Let us guess what a typical Saturday night in your home looks like. Exhausted after a day of soccer, gymnastics, or playdates, you tidy up the house and feed the kids dinner, get them off to bed, and settle onto the couch with Netflix and takeout. OK, we admit that on many Saturday nights, this does seem like an appealing scenario! But occasionally, it’s nice to get out, see the latest movie in theaters, or enjoy your favorite restaurant with your partner and without little hands and voices around you! But in order to work a regular date night into your schedule, first you need a rotation of babysitters to rely on!
Start searching. Your first stop should be friends and other families from school or daycare. Send a text or email asking your fellow parents for babysitter recommendations. Referrals are a great way to build a list of babysitters you feel comfortable with. Sites like Care.com and Sittercity.com can bring a slew of interested babysitters your way, and allow you to conduct background checks.
Now you’ll want to interview your potential babysitters, and give them a chance to meet your children as well. Make sure to ask about the sitter’s relevant childcare experience, and ask about the ages of children she’s watched in the past. If she’s mainly had experience with older kids, she may not know what to do when confronted with a messy diaper change or an infant who needs soothing before bed. Talk about any specific needs your kids may have, and ask her about her comfort level in dealing with those needs. Ask for her hourly rate and for two or three references. And schedule the interview for a time when your spouse can entertain the kids in another room while you interview, and then bring the kids in to meet their potential sitter. Seeing her interact with your kids will make you feel more comfortable with her, and will get your kids used to a familiar face.
Now it’s time to make dinner reservations and put a date on the calendar! Gather any information your sitter will need for her night with your kids, and write it down. What time do they eat, and what can she feed them? When do they go to sleep? Are there any specific bedtime rituals she should follow? Leave your contact info, and a few emergency numbers for her. And your kids might appreciate being told in advance what to expect from their night with a new sitter. You might even want to let them watch a favorite movie with her, or buy a treat for dessert that will make the night feel special.
Do you have a reliable list of babysitters to call on Saturday nights? How did you build that list? Let us know in the comments section!