We needed a babysitter; my mother’s friend’s daughter was looking for pin money. It seemed like a neat enough arrangement. The fact that she had no experience with babies didn’t bother me so much because, heck, up until a few months prior, neither had I!
We’ve found most of our babysitters this way. We only required an occasional minder when I needed a break or to do non-child-friendly chores, so it didn’t bother me that the candidates didn’t have degrees in Child Developmental Psychology or Early Childhood Education.
Unqualified VS Unreferenced
We looked at au pair agencies but the idea of leaving our baby with a stranger – however well-qualified – didn’t sit well with me. I like the security of knowing, and often loving, the person taking care of my child. I also love the flexibility of being able to go out at the drop of an sms.
A relationship or personal recommendation means more to me than a piece of paper with a qualification.
Most adults (yes, even young adults) have the common sense not to let the kid play with knives and to keep him away from electrical sockets – and just in case, we go over a checklist with them before we leave them with our child.
“Godforbids” can happen on anyone’s watch
Of course having a first-aid qualification is great for anyone – parents and sitters alike – but most mishaps are solvable with a heap of love and a Winnie the Pooh plaster or two.
For worse than that (and this has never happened with our sitters), my number is on speed dial and the emergency room is a four-minute drive away. Because I know and trust our carers, I trust that no accident will happen with them that couldn’t have happened on my watch.
All you need is love
My minimum requirements for a babysitter are love, reliability, and a willingness to learn. Ingenuity is a distinct bonus – one sitter got my kid to eat pesto; another taught him to identify animals (and imitate their noises, which amused us no end!)
And I don’t really mind that the sitters sometimes take my child bra shopping (true story!) or for coffee with a mate because, admittedly, I do the same. The only problem is that he comes home singing Lady Gaga. And he’s tone-deaf, so it’s even worse than the original!
Love in the time of colouring books
Sure, we’ve had a few sticky situations. We’ve had babysitters who’ve put nappies on backwards, and who’ve allowed non-bathtime toys into the tub (poor Teddy will never be the same). We’ve found peanut-butter paw-prints on the cot sheets and the pages of storybooks stuck together by what I can only assume were peas, once upon a time.
But we also have a little boy whose face lights up with joy when his sitters walk in the door. And that, for me, is the best testimony that he is loved and well looked after while I am away.
How do you choose the person to care for your child when you go out?
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.