As a relatively new parent, I feel like babysitting is a lot more complicated than it used to be. When I was growing up, my parents knew all of our neighbors; we interacted with them on a regular basis in a very “neighborly” way. Our family knew and trusted all of the young adults in the neighborhood, and the more entrepreneurial ones were always willing to take on babysitting roles for a reasonable hourly wage. My parents certainly didn’t need to see their references before giving them the job. Back then, it seems like finding a sitter was so much simpler. Things have certainly changed since then, at least for my family. We don’t know our neighbors like my parents knew theirs, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable trusting a stranger to watch my 2-year-old, Bennett. Although finding babysitters is definitely more complicated today, parents aren’t totally on their own. Here are some options to consider when you have an itch to step out a little, sans stroller and diaper bag.
Friends and Family
My wife and I are fortunate enough to have family close by who can watch Bennett for us in a pinch. We have leaned on our good friends a time or two as well as our respective parents. Sometimes I feel guilty relying on Bennett’s grandparents, but they enjoy spending time with Bennett and he relishes the largesse with which they attend to him.
Hiring a Professional
Somewhere along the way, I – like many of us in the 21st century – became more mistrustful of others, and I have a difficult time finding a young person I know and trust enough to take care of my child. And thus, finding a high-quality, professional babysitter has turned into a bona fide industry, which emerged to fill the demand that used to be served by the neighborhood kids. These professional babysitters can be found through childcare companies that connect babysitters who are already vetted, with parents in need of childcare. This is a great option for parents who are willing to pay a little more for the peace of mind that comes from knowing your babysitter has been certified and background-checked by a third party.
Another great option for parents who don’t have family nearby is to grow relationships in your community where you are already putting in time. For instance, if you’re an active member of a local church group, you may consider using that network to find a trustworthy teenager who’s interested in babysitting. Depending on the culture of your workplace, it may be appropriate to reach out to younger coworkers who don’t yet have families of their own and might enjoy looking after your child on the weekends. This is a great opportunity to get to know your colleagues on a personal level while ensuring your child is in the care of someone you trust.
No matter what your personal situation is, it is important that you have at least one go-to person whom you can call on to look after your child in case of an emergency. Blog contributor and safety expert, Sarah Thompson, shares tips on asking someone to be your emergency contact here.