I understand the challenges between wanting to find a babysitter and yet being terrified of actually leaving your baby with the babysitter (even once you’ve found one, she’s perfect, couldn’t ask for better). It took me until my girls were about 1-year-old to leave them with a babysitter.
So I understand the not wanting to leave the baby, I do. I just got a lot more relaxed by the time my third daughter came around.
WHERE TO FIND A BABYSITTER
If you don’t have family in the same city, or same part of the city, it’s hard. You should, however, make the effort to find a babysitter. Even if it’s just for the occasional night out. Just think, you could actually eat a meal, while it’s still hot, on a white tablecloth perhaps, not worry about nursing half-way through appetizers, and enjoy an adult beverage. Fancy that.
Don’t be afraid to ask
You buy groceries, right? Ask your grocer if she knows any babysitters in the area. She is either a mom, a grandma, or a student herself, so she may very well know someone. This works with hairdressers and local boutique staff as well. Just ask! I found my first babysitter by asking my hairdresser. If you belong to a church, they may have a list of members who are interested in babysitting.
Babysitting swap or co-op
Your best mom friends, your neighbors, your church group. My neighbour popped over to introduce herself to me because she saw a diaper box in my recycling pile on garbage day. We ended up becoming great friends, but also did a babysitting swap on a very regular basis for a long time. I would look after her girls for one night, and the next month she would look after mine! I also did this with a fellow pre-school mom one summer for a few hours per week – one week off, one week on. It was perfect!
It’s okay to put an ad on Kijiji or Craigslist. I have found most of my favourite babysitters using Kijiji. There are other websites as well – google ‘babysitter + your city’ for babysitter/nanny websites. These sites cost money to register, require you to post your ad, arrange your own interviews, screen the applicants and so forth. It works! The other way to find ‘strangers’ for babysitting is to attend one of our Modern Mama Mama Needs a Babysitter events. We bring the sitters to you to meet several in one evening. This is a great way to avoid all the steps and stress of the hiring process and meet a few in one night. Plus there is no awkwardness of in-home first-time meetings (for you OR for the sitter).
So what next? You now know where to look for a sitter, next step …
HOW TO HIRE A BABYSITTER
1 | Think about age and if you would prefer a teenager, university student, or experienced childcare professional.
2 | Is it important that your sitter has her own transportation or are you willing to pick up and drive home at the end of the date?
3 | Do you require your sitter to have special training such as CPR/childsafe, the babysitter course or early childhood education?
4 | What type of experience is important to you: infants, older children, multiple children, bedtimes, bathing and how much experience?
5 | Think about your expectations: changing diapers, play/interact, feed meals, bathing, basic supervision for older children?
6 | Are up to date immunizations, such as flu shots or chicken pox vaccinations, important to you [for the babysitter to have]?
7 | Ask for a reference, at least one character reference or family she has babysat for in the past.
8 | What are you willing to pay? The average rates are anywhere between $10-15/hour. The rate you decide upon with your babysitter can vary depending on her age, experience, number of children, and times required (i.e. late nights). I find the younger, more inexperienced sitters are happy with less, but the University students or full-time childcare professionals expect more and it’s important to align your expectation with what you’re willing to pay. You can’t expect to pay a childcare professional or late-twenties sitter with a ton of experience $10/hour. Chances are she won’t return your calls next time .
Still unsure about taking the plunge to create your date night? Experts will tell you it is well worth it for your own well-being and for your marriage. Next post in this series, we’ll cover date night ideas on a budget and/or while nesting.