Finding that special someone to take care of your kids
If your number-one reason for lack of a social life or regular break from mommyhood is that you can’t find a good sitter, then help is on the way! There’s no reason you can’t see that new film, eat at that hot new restaurant, or even go on a date just because you have kids. I know they make it hard for you. They grab your leg as you head out the door, and beg and plead with those effective “please don’t abandon me” faces.
You’ve done the whole leave-your-kid-with-the-neighborhood-teen only to arrive home to find her Snapchatting while your kid plays dolphin in the unguarded pool. You’ve also left your baby with your mother, who insists that adult Tylenol is the exact same thing as Junior Tylenol, only cheaper. Never again!
If you could just find one good trustworthy babysitter, you could finally feel confident about leaving your precious loved ones at home. You could muster the strength to peel your kids off your legs and head out that door knowing you’ll come home to happy children and a house in good order. But where can you find this special someone? Here are some ideas for your consideration:
Your child’s classes. Whether they are found at a Mommy and Me class, preschool, or grade school, teaching assistants are a veritable gold mine of underpaid, overeducated, baby-crazy professionals who will be happy to make some cold, hard cash to supplement their low income. They already know the games and songs that will keep your kid entertained for hours. And how starstruck will your child be when his or her favorite “teacher” walks through the front door?
The Internet. Never in the history of child care has it been easier to point and click your way to getting a better sitter. Hey, it worked to find those perfect shoes, and it can certainly work to find that perfect child-care expert. Reputable websites are filled with local sitters. You can see what they look like, check out how long they’ve been in this field, see how high they’re rated, read reviews from former clients, and even send them a message so you can get to know them before you book them.
Your local college. Most colleges and universities have child-development and teacher-education classes in which students would love more one-on-one time with children, as well as the extra income. Because most universities generally require people to be well rounded and high achieving in order to be accepted into the school as students, your sitter will likely be smart, responsible, and have good problem-solving skills. Plus, because students’ schedules often are less rigid than a nine-to-five employee, you might have more flexibility to dash out when your kids are driving you cray cray!
A nontraditional route. If you restrict your search to only females, you’ll be missing out on a lot of good sitters. A male caregiver, or manny, can offer plenty of other things that a female cannot besides facial hair and an Adam’s apple. If you have a handful of active boys (or girls) who can benefit from hours of physical activities and sports, a guy’s point of view, and the knowledge of all things superhero, then a manny is for you. (Disclaimer: I know a lot of female sitters also enjoy physical activities, sports, and superheros, so please don’t write me a letter.)
Your friends. If you have a friend who raves about her sitter, ask her if she’ll share. Explain in no uncertain terms that the only time you’ll use the sitter is during the times your friend won’t need the sitter. Keep in mind that any other scenario is considered “poaching” and is punishable by being excluded from future birthday parties and barbecues!
On average, great sitters have a shelf life of only a few years at best—they go away to college, get a full-time job, or get poached away from you! For many of you, that will be long enough till your kids are in school full time or grow old enough to actually use adult-strength Tylenol so your mom can help out once again!
Joanne Kimes, ESME’s Parenting Resource Guide, is the writer and creator of the best-selling Sucks book series (some titles include Breastfeeding Sucks, Potty Training Sucks, and Teenagers Suck) and coauthor of The Stay-At-Home Martyr. She has contributed to numerous blogs and magazine articles, and has appeared on NBC’s Today show, Life & Style, and KTLA news.
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