· Monday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Tuesday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Rachel Norman, A Mother Far From Home
· Friday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood
This week has already featured several great posts about the importance of some time “away” for yourself and your marriage. It doesn’t matter if you follow a certain parenting method or work/stay at home, time to yourself is vital. It is vital for a healthy marriage and a healthy family. Your children need to see that you place priority on taking care of yourself. They need to see that you do not revolve around them (are you seeing a common theme this week ?!). They will not remember that you cooked 7 suppers each week instead of 5-6. They will not remember that you waited until they fell asleep to go out on any dates. What will stand out in their mind is that you cared enough about them to take time to feel refreshed and renewed and come back with even more patience and kindness than before. They will know that your marriage was important enough to dedicate regular time to it.
Sounds great! Not so easy. You feel guilty for leaving. The last thing you want to do when you feel unbalanced is to take even less time away from tasks at home or from your family. You just do not have the energy to go back out or to deal with the repercussions from someone else putting your child to sleep…or not follow directions. Your baby is finally sleeping through the night and you are terrified they will still be awake when you get home. You don’t have the extra money to hire a babysitter on top of the cost of dinner, movie, etc.
I have used all of those excuses but I have also realized the importance of not letting those excuses stop me and my husband from having time alone, individually and as a couple. I could spend a whole post only on the importance of overcoming those reasons! However, today I really want to focus on how to find sitters that will be more compatible with babywise methods. Although most of these could be applied to other parenting philosophies, but due to the focus on sleep training and the importance of avoiding disruptions, I hope that you will find these very babywise-friendly.
- Care.com and sittercity.com are two notable sites for finding caregivers. You may not necessarily find babywise-friendly sitters right away, but most of the applicants are young girls with an interest in childcare. Very few have hardcore ideas about how things have to be done, and you should be able to find someone that can follow your directions. You will know right away the pay rate the prefer, their availability, and many other demographic sort options. We have found all of our full-time nannies through these sites, and every time we go through the process I notice how many babysitters and part-time sitters are listed.
- The downside with these sites is cost and screening. We tend to only screen 20+ years old for nanny positions but I would consider younger for babysitting. We usually plan on screening 4-6 candidates with 4 or so backup candidates. Plan on having some time for them to come (after the initial interview) to actually play and interact with your children prior to the date/time you need them. Have pre-planned questions ahead of time so that you get a consistent feel for each candidate. Ask everything from how to handle emergencies to organization to cooking (more so for regular sitting, but this will give you a good feel for their experience and personality). You can search for sitters but you can also post a position and be more detailed about exactly what you need and your requirements.
- Ask neighbors and mommy-groups who they use as babysitters. Ideally, you want to ask other like-minded parents but this could also give you a feel for who not to ask. Personal references are usually more ideal, and babysitters are often more consistent and dependable if they know they are babysitting for families that know each other.
- Don’t be afraid to leave a list of instructions or a schedule. Make sure you include contact information, emergency contact, and estimated return time as well as where you will be.
- Don’t leave a page of instructions or list a lengthy routine. The goal is for someone to fill in for a few hours and keep your baby happy. It is not to copy exactly everything down to the letter of the law. I PROMISE…even if your baby is awake when you get home it will not wreck all of the hard work you have done. Children often do better for others so don’t fret that your children will necessarily wake up every hour of the night if they go to bed a little late. My kids have even completely broken routine and slept with lights on and doors open so give your sitter some grace and freedom to make their own decisions. Find a few allowances like an extra show or pizza night to make it easier on everyone.
- Swap with another family. You could even put all the kids down together and move (often my kids go right back to sleep after waking up as they get older) or your spouse could put your kids to sleep in their own beds. Either way the goal is to make it fun and give the gift of babysitting to each family.
- For daytime or regular sitting, I usually leave a log for the sitter to fill out. It includes times they were feed, fell asleep, woke up. You can even include things like potty training attempts or foods given. Again. do not be too exact but for a regular babysitter this can be helpful for you and her to follow. I usually forget to ask everything I wanted to ask right when I return so this is a nice way to see what happened overall. It can also help with troubleshooting or trends if you are gone more than a few hours.
- Leave a copy of Babywise laying out. I have had a few sitters actually open it up while the kids are napping and they almost always remark on the good ideas in it. I do not require them to read it (even our nannies). See below.
- More than anything, find a compatible sitter for you and your children and go with your gut. Finding a babywise-friendly sitter is a blessing but should not be a limiting factor. One of our best nannies was not familiar with babywise or extremely structured, but she was quite willing to follow directions and abundantly patient with our toddlers. She was hands-down the most amazing sitter we have ever had. I even asked her for advice on how she put my daughter down to get substantially longer naps. She was the one that started putting my son down 15 min earlier on school days and fixed short naps on those days.
While I think having a babywise-friendly sitter is important, I think the hardest part is knowing where to look. Hopefully I have given you a few ideas to get started, but you never know where you might find a trustworthy person to watch your children. You do not want someone to undermine you or ignore directions, but remember the goal is for you to have some time to focus on yourself. Forget about schedules down to the minute and perfect routines. Make it fun and flexible. Your kids will have fun which will make it easier for you to have fun!