Caring for a child is a lot of work and sometimes you’ll need a break. A night out with your loved one, or a lunch date with a friend can go a long way toward re-energizing you for the most important job you’ll ever have – raising a happy and healthy child.
A trusted babysitter is a valuable resource, and will give you peace of mind when you’re away from your child. “Ideally, a babysitter is a person with whom your child already has a relationship and someone who can support your values and routines while keeping your child safe,” says Missy Carson Smith, Parent Liaison for Great Start Collaborative of Traverse Bay.
Think of asking a trusted family member to spend a few hours babysitting. Also, reach out to family and friends for references. They may already have a babysitter they’re willing to share. Some family friends with children of their own may be open to trading babysitting duties as well. Consider asking teenagers in your neighborhood to babysit and ask their parents if they can handle the responsibility. Local colleges may also have a list of students available to babysit.
Once you have a few names, Carson Smith suggests taking time to interview any person who will spend time alone with your child. If possible, have them over to meet your kids and pay attention to how they interact with you and your kids. Are they happy and smiling when meeting your child? Do they seem comfortable with the idea of being alone with your child or children? Are they open to listening to your rules and precautions?
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, these are top considerations when choosing a sitter:
- Meet the sitter and check references and training in advance.
- Be certain the sitter has had first aid training and knows CPR. If you like the potential sitter, help them find a class.
- Be sure the babysitter is at least 13 years old and mature enough to handle common emergencies.
- Have the sitter spend time with you before babysitting to meet the children and learn their routines.
You should also ask about the ages of other children they’re babysat, how they might handle an emergency, and activities they like to do with children.
If your kids are nearing their teenage years, you’ll need an older babysitter who your kids will respect, and who can enforce the household rules if needed.
If you and your child have met a possible new babysitter, ask your child what they think of them. Respect your child’s thoughts and feelings and remember, trust your instincts about if the person will work out as a babysitter.
Once you’ve decided on a babysitter, be sure to communicate all the household rules, from screen-time, to visitors and food. Make sure your babysitter has the following before you leave:
- Access to a working phone (especially if you don’t have a landline.)
- Your contact info
- Your neighbors’ phone numbers
- Poison center
- Your Home Phone Number (if you have one)
- Your Home address
Once you’ve found a trusted babysitter you and your child likes, use them as often as needed to keep you refreshed and focused on providing the best possible parenting.