Finding a caregiver for your baby for the first time is very scary, since we are flooded with the tales of people who abuse children in their care. Even during the days when such stories were not as common, my husband and I carried our first baby with us until he was nine months old. My thinking was if the child was old enough to have a little language and if he could express himself at least to a degree, the threat could be less.
Later on, we found a nice grandmother type who used to take care of one of our friend’s children. Our friend was very happy with the lady, but since she had recently hired a live-in maid, she didn’t need her. So, Mrs. Crowley became our first tried and true baby-sitter. Of all the other babysitters we had in later years, in my heart, Mrs. Crowley still holds the pole position.
Today, parents are very lucky if they have family members around to take care of their children. They are even luckier because of modern technology, since they can monitor the events in their home even from a distance. If we had today’s technological means back then, I would have wired and equipped my house with all the monitors and hidden cameras I could get my hands on.
Although we may feel machines cannot compete with a mother’s intuition, they can surely add to it. To our advantage, with the advent of digital technology, modern monitors provide clearer signals and a wider range of operation.
Certainly a babysitter’s greatest asset is a good reputation, but you need to consider a few more important points before you do the hiring. When you interview someone for either a daily care-giving situation or for a few hours when you go out, ask yourself these questions: Is the babysitter an alert person? Will the babysitter be able to make quick and proper decisions in case of an emergency? Is the babysitter paying enough attention to you while you are showing her where things are? Is your child willing to stay with this babysitter?
Once you’ve decided to hire the babysitter, watch how she interacts with your child. Her style should match yours at least to a degree.
Then, make sure the babysitter has all the information. It is a good idea to fill her in as to the child’s medical, emotional, and any other special needs; what is expected of the babysitter as to the feeding, cleaning after, or if it applies, giving baths to the children; where you can be reached and your cell phone number; in case you cannot be reached, another friend or family member’s phone; the child’s doctor’s phone number; and the phone numbers of a local poison center, police, fire, and ambulance.
Show the babysitter where everything is in the house that the child may need and where the first aid supplies and emergency exits are, and check that she understands the rules of the house as to the use of the phone, the TV, bedtime, snacks, and people coming over.
Then, make sure you have everything written down and within easy reach of the babysitter. No matter how carefully the babysitter seems to listen, chances are she’ll forget or mix up most of the things.
When you return, talk to your children about the babysitter with a relaxed, chatty tone about the time they spent with her. Your children will give you a correct account if they feel they are not being drilled.
If your children are safe and at ease with the babysitter, you will be happy, too, during your time at work or when you go out in the evening. So make sure to take necessary steps in choosing a suitable babysitter. It may be for short amounts of time, but you and your children will be depending on her.