I recently asked a question on a Facebook group about babysitters, and whether people use them at all. The responses were a very mixed bag with everything from ‘yes, all the time’ to ‘no, never’.
As a working parent, and more specifically a work-from-home parent, I often find myself with a different need: someone to be at home with the children, while I’m there, but working. It can be really hard to get in the ‘flow’ of work when you’re constantly interrupted for a glass of water, or because someone looked at someone else for a second longer than was acceptable! Having someone who can keep the kids busy, do art and craft with them, and generally just fill my role for a few hours a day or week, makes a huge difference.
In fact when Ameli was 2 I had a client that required a big article every Friday, so I had a lady who came round with her daughter to look after Ameli for three hours while I worked. It was such a relief to hear her happy laughter coming from the garden while I got stuff done. As it happens, that lady became a good friend and we are still in touch.
For me the thought of hiring someone off a list is very intimidating. What’s her experience, her background? How do I know she’s safe, not going to invite her boyfriend over? (Yes, I have every bad Hollywood babysitter-movie running through my mind right now!)
When it comes to hiring a babysitter, I ask myself some very basic questions: would I give this person the keys to my car? Would I ask her to feed the fish while we’re on holiday for a week? If I am doubtful about a “yes” in either, why on earth would I leave my children with her?
But how do you start? Personal recommendation? Sure. What if you don’t have any, though? Going through a reputable source, like Sitters childcare agency in the UK or Toddle if you’re in Australia, helps, because it gives you a starting point of already vetted people, who have already been reference checked and experienced sitters already have reviews from other parents too.
For a working parent, this is particularly useful as you can often find Ofsted registered childminders for regular bookings, which means you can get some of the money back through Child Tax Credits if you’re in the right income bracket, and for many work-from-home parents, that’s a god-send!
Whether you use babysitters or not, whether you use them so you can have a social life, some grown-up time with your partner, or so you can get work done without interruption, choosing the right people to look after the most important people in your life is essential, so making the right decision is too.
How do you go about choosing your babysitters and child minders? What questions do you ask?