Adventures in Babysitting


A babysitter playing blocks with a little boy.We are fortunate to have family nearby. One set of grandparents lives next door to us, and one just an hour away in New York City. Since my son was born almost fifteen months ago, we have left him with family members several times. Whether it’s to run a quick errand, attend a bridal shower, or even celebrate our anniversary with a dinner out, they are ready, willing, and able to sit with our baby.

As it turns out, this is easier for me to do than I thought it would be. A large part of this is because of how much our parents adore our son. I’m positive they won’t take their eyes and hands off of him for a moment. The other part is that my husband and I know first-hand that our parents have excellent child-care skills. We are proof that they can nurture a child to adulthood!

A couple of weeks ago, I had to attend an event for work on Saturday night. My husband worked until five, and I had to leave at three. Usually, I’d have my mother-in-law make the long five-minute trek from her home to mine to sit with my son. But she had a full house of visitors, including her three other grandchildren. My parents were out of town.

The moment I’d been dreading had arrived: we would have to find a babysitter.

On a side note, I’d like to say this was one of those “Oh, how I’ve aged” moments. I honestly feel like it was just yesterday that I was babysitting. And the parents were always so adult. When had I become the grown-up mom hiring the sitter?!

I was terrified. As previously stated, I am a control freak and a professional worrier. The thought of a “stranger” caring for my baby was very scary. What if she let him fall off of the couch? What if she let him choke on a piece of apple? And what if she couldn’t find his blankie when he needed it?

I started with my first piece of anxiety – the fear of the unknown. Rather than ask a friend for a recommendation or hire a co-worker’s daughter, I asked around daycare to see if any of my son’s teachers babysat. As it turned out, one claimed that she was a pro.

She is in her early 20s and one of my son’s favorite people at daycare. She is someone I have come to trust a great deal. I also felt good knowing that our daycare center performed background checks on their staff, trained them in first aid and ensured employees had a high level of comfort with stuff that might throw your normal teenage sitter (spit up, a blowout diaper, fussiness). We were on.

I did have a fair amount of anxiety leading up to the afternoon I would be leaving my son. I tried to find things to do that made me feel more in control in prepared.

When I worried about a medical emergency, I drafted a full “Emergency Contacts” sheet that included everything from our medical insurance info to the names of our son’s doctors to the number for 911. She probably could have figured that last one out on her own!

When I worried about choking, I cut up my son’s afternoon snack of fruit myself so I knew he’d be chewing on small enough pieces. And when I worried in general about all that could go wrong, I took deep breaths and reminded myself that he would be OK.

The afternoon went as smoothly as possible. The babysitter was receptive to my detailed “orientation,” not even laughing at me when I reminded her about how to call 911. My son was thrilled to see his pal from school in our house and was sitting happily in her lap reading a book when I ducked out the door.

They played for a few hours, ate some mango, and my son didn’t shed a tear (until he had to say goodbye to his sitter!). Overall, I could not have asked for a better experience. Next time, I might be ready to let the babysitter stay for a couple more hours or even try bedtime. Baby steps, right?

What was your first experience hiring a sitter like?


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