With all that we have going on it’s not possible to be with your child 24/7 so you’ll have to trust others to watch them at times. This can be one of the scariest and frustrating parts of parenthood. With stories coming out about things happening to children when you’re not looking and knowing how our children can be hard to manage ourselves placing them in the care of others is just a difficult thing to do. Not being able to find and start trusting a babysitter shouldn’t be a reason for you to cancel your plans, miss going out or having a date night, or feel that you can’t live your full life outside of motherhood.
So where do you start trusting someone to watch your child and trusting a babysitter?
With anything related to my children I like to evaluate what I want out of this relationship. I look at what we would expect from a babysitter or caretaker. This way I know what the person should know or when they will need to be available.
I know for our family we prefer to keep our circle of trusted people smaller so this person has to come from our circle or closely related. There are certain qualities that we’d like the person to have.
If there are circumstances where we need to hire a new person we start a few places:
Daycare or school
We’ve been fortunate that one of our first teachers at the daycare where our boys used to go babysits on the side and weekends. We can trust her because we know her and our boys are comfortable with her already. Saying goodbye when we leave for date nights is easy because they are already preoccupied. It’s like they are seeing an old friend and don’t even know we’ve left. We also know she’s certified in CPR and can handle two children since she works with children all day.
Friends are using babysitters all the time also. Just like I would recommend our sitter, a few friends have trusted people that they use. We like to reach out early to make sure we can talk to the person and get a feel for them before the day arrives.
When getting to know a new person or getting to know someone you’ve identified better it’s important to interview them. It doesn’t matter if they are a recommended person or someone you’ve interacted with briefly, there shouldn’t be any hesitation to ask them as many and whatever questions you feel are necessary to be comfortable leaving your children with them.
Some of the most important interview questions to start trusting a babysitter are:
What is the most challenging aspect of watching children for you?
This helps you know where they feel their strong and weak points are. You can then decide if this is a deal breaker for you or not based on the personalities of your children and your parenting style.
Do you have any background missteps that I should know about?
If you have the means or justification to complete a background check, do it. However, sometimes giving them a chance to explain whether they have a record or general issues you need to know about is a good starting point to developing a trusting relationship, and better than finding out later or assuming there are no issues.
Have you ever handled a childcare emergency? How?
Hopefully this is not going to be necessary, but things happen. People who are taking care of your children need to know how to handle various situations, and knowing that they can calmly do something or have had that experience will help to ease your concerns.
What are your hobbies?
Getting to know the entire person is important to me. They are working in my home and I want to really know them and be able to treat them like family – especially since they are taking care of my family. Treating them not like an employee, but a regular person will also establish in their minds a familiar tone and allow them to open up to you and help to build a relationship. I find I like to do whatever I can to stay in good relationship so that we can use the same person over and over.
What is your availability and rates?
Some people forget to ask and then find out the person they want the most is booked every Thursday night, the exact night they need. So, find this out first. Be ready to talk payment. Don’t assume you know anything, how they work, what their expectations are, and make sure to be clear about yours. Over communication is better in this situation.
Is it ok if I have to come home late sometimes?
If you’re anything like us, our date nights sometimes go longer than planned. We try to estimate our time frames as best we can and do our best to respect that, but we’ve also been stuck in traffic on the way home or hit with a delay. Again, communication in this area prevents problems and we keep them updated if we are going to be late. Having the discussion before hand is another way to build relationships and understand how the person feels about a flexible time schedule. If they are not super flexible because of other commitments or they just don’t agree, then it’s best to know this up front.
Lastly, do not neglect the feeling in your gut.
If you believe there is something off but you can’t explain it or you don’t feel comfortable, then go with it and move on to someone else. I don’t feel bad about broken relationships or friendships just because I refused to ignore the feelings I had. As parents, we get to and have the responsibility to choose what’s best for our children and a woman’s intuition is a special gift that we need to tap into and then listen to.
I completely get why you might have trouble trusting someone to babysit – our children are our world. Letting them be in the hands of someone else can be tough. When we are not living near family and haven’t built a connection to someone to fill this role we sometimes don’t know where to start.
These tips can be a stepping stone to building a community and tribe of people who can be there to support you in the parts of motherhood that take you away from your children, because we deserve to have breaks and lead full lives in addition to raising our children.