I’ve always been a lucky person. On our honeymoon in Vegas I literally made money in every casino we hit and, trust me, we went to a lot. I’m the person who always wins something in a raffle. Another way I’ve hit the jackpot? My mother always watches our daughter. She watches her during the day while we are at work, and on the weekends for the occasional date night.
Lately though, our “after work” and weekend commitments started increasing and I began to get the creeping feeling that it was time to alleviate some of the baby duties from my mom. This meant it was time for the daunting task of finding a babysitter. The questions and fears started building up in my high-strung brain.
Who could possibly watch our daughter as well as we could? Who could be trusted? What if she didn’t like them? What if she thought we abandoned her? What if they were offended that I didn’t offer them a high enough rate? What if they fell asleep and she stuck her fingers in an outlet? What if she cried all night and they ignored her? What if they were a human trafficker and stole her away to some far off place?! WHAT IF?!?!?
While most of these possibilities seemed highly unlikely, these thoughts did cause me to start compiling a more coherent list of questions to ask a potential new babysitter. I reminded myself that this would not be a nanny position, and that this person would be in our home for just a few hours here and there.
What experience do you have with children?
Are you certified in infant CPR?
Do you have any references for children you have babysat previously?
Do you charge by the hour or a flat-rate for the evening?
Do you have flexibility if an event goes longer than expected?
I also made a short list of people I knew who I thought would be strong, potential candidates. The idea of having someone I knew seemed a lot better than starting from scratch with a stranger. That list was made up mostly of friends with kids who might be interested in taking on another for a few hours, along with a couple 18-25 year olds who appeared to have their life together much better than I did at that age.
I decided to also talk to my other mommy friends—although that made some of my anxiety return as many of them shared that they, too, struggled with finding a reliable sitter. People not showing up, not answering check-in phone calls or texts, questionable decision making. Some had utilized agencies, while others went off the recommendations of others.
After going back and forth, we ultimately landed on utilizing someone we knew and already had a relationship with.
I was able to narrow my list and settled on my niece-in-law. She had babysat as a teenager and is currently working on getting her Master Degree in Occupational Therapy. She has a car, doesn’t drink, has a steady boyfriend, and for all intents and purposes seems extremely reliable. Best of all, my daughter likes her.
Having someone we trust has been invaluable because we also know how important it is to have those dinner dates, or game nights with friends; to take time for ourselves amidst our jobs and family time.
If you’ve started to get that feeling like I did, that it is time to find a babysitter, start with the basics. Make your list of important questions, weed out the irrational fears, talk to other parents, and weigh your options. It may take some time, but finding someone you like and trust with your little one will be worth it.
I know my niece doesn’t plan on staying in this area after graduation so I’ll be back to square one, but right now, having peace of mind with a reliable babysitter is one lucky break that I’m so grateful to have.