Leaving your baby in the care of someone else can be extremely stressful for some parents, particularly me! So I thought I would put together a list of tips to make you feel more comfortable about leaving your children in the care of someone else. Whether you are leaving your child with a family member, a friend, a neighbour or a relative stranger here are some ideas to make the whole process go smoothly.
If you are hiring a babysitter there are a few steps you should take:
* Ask your friends for recommendations of who they use, or look out for advertisements in your local paper. You can also use a nanny/babysitting service who have done all the hard work for you.
* The general rule of thumb is the younger your child, the more mature a babysitter you want. A 16 year will probably not be mature enough to handle a newborn or toddler (unless they have them in their family), but will be great with a child over the age of 8-10.
* Have a phone interview, check their rates, their availability, and ask for some references. Discuss what you expect of them when they look after your children and your parenting style (gentle parenting vs. hitting, naughty corner, etc.). Ask them about their experience with children of a similar age. Ask if they have had first aid training, and if they have a working with children check. If their answers don’t match your expectations move on to someone else. Remember this is the time to ask as many questions as you want to assess their suitability to look after your kids.
* Make sure you check references. Ring other parents and see how they like the person you will be hiring. If something doesn’t sound right, move on to someone else.
* Have a face to face meeting at your own home so you can see how your child interacts with the babysitter. It is very natural for your child to be a bit shy at first so this meeting will help bond your child to their new babysitter. If your child really isn’t bonding with this person or the babysitter seems disinterested you have two options, ask them if they would be willing to come back and try again, or move on to someone else.
* Discuss the rules you expect them to follow – in particular anything on drinking, smoking and having guests over (this is particularly important if you are hiring someone young).
* If you are happy with all of this confirm with them their rates (take into account the number of children they will be looking after and extra fees for after 10pm or midnight – depending on the babysitter) and the first day and time you would like them to look after your child/ren.
On the day of babysitting (whether it be a babysitter or a family member):
* Be organised!
* Make a list of emergency contacts and leave it somewhere accessible (fridge or by the phone).
* Write your routine down so that they know exactly what should be happening and when.
* Charge your mobile phone so your contactable in case of a problem and so that you can ring to check in if you need to.
* If you are going to be gone for meal or snack time, put out what you would like your child/ren to eat.
* Leave out any clothes that they might need (eg. sleep suits, change of clothes in case they get dirty if they will be doing activities or playing outside).
* Make sure you leave water bottles and/or milk bottles in an easy to find spot.
* Leave any special toys, blankets or dummies out.
* Let your babysitter know if your child is unwell, teething or is just out of sorts. And any strategies to deal with it!
* Tell your babysitter where you keep your first aid kit (if you don’t have one, where do you keep the childrens panadol, bandaids, etc) and if they need to call you before they administer it.
* Any lastly reinforce any rules on bed time and TV watching with your child in front of the babysitter before you leave – that way everyone is clear.