Babying the Buddha: Leaving the Children

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Where to find your own Mrs. Doubtfire.

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All parents need a break now and then. As the holidays approach, there are bound to be parties, events and celebrations that require you to leave your child with a sitter. If you don't live near family, finding someone you trust can be especially daunting. Travel can be another babysitting dilemma. How can you and your spouse enjoy a romantic dinner in an exciting new town when you don't know a soul with whom you feel comfortable entrusting your child's life and care?

Ultimately, friends, family and those who are closest to you are the best resources. Neighbors, fellow parents whose parenting styles you admire and members of your church or other like-minded individuals may also have trustworthy recommendations.

Online services connecting parents and sitters are abundant. By providing your zip code, you can get a list of potential sitters in your area. ResumÈs, basic information and the number of references can be seen upon an initial surf of the website. To receive contact information, you must pay a fee that averages around $30 for the first three months and $6-$9 per month beyond that, less expensive than using an agency. They also provide some good guidelines for the parents such as how to interview a potential sitter, how much to pay, babysitting checklists, and frequently asked questions. Sitters can also get babysitting training and certification information through these sites. Local American Red Cross chapters also offer babysitter trainings.

As I read through some of the babysitting candidates, I found people whom I would want to know as a friend simply based on their bios. Regardless of how good you feel about a candidate, it's always recommended to have the new sitter watch your child while you are at home, too. This way you are able to observe their style, how your child interacts with them, and get an intuitive sense of whether this is a good match.

It's never easy to leave our children, but the truth is that occasionally it's best for both them and us. Mommies and daddies need time to just be people. Children need to feel safe with other people beyond their parents. Having a list of qualified sitters that you come to know and trust benefits everyone. Parents who nurture their own needs have the energy to be more available to their children. So if you don't already have a good babysitting network, take the initiative and get a few good names in place.  u

Resources

  • Salt Lake's childcare referral services is: Child Care Resource and Referral Metro, 124 S. 4th East St., Ste. 400. Tel. 355-4847. www.cssutah.org/childcare

  • You could also call the student employment service at a local college or high school, or post an ad in the newspaper or on a listing such as Craigslist. Always interview and ask for many references. Babysitting agencies can be found in the yellow pages.

  • Babysitting swaps with other families can be a blessing; there is no cost and you know that your child is being taken care of by someone with plenty of experience. Parent/child classes or mother's clubs provide great opportunities to meet new friends for both you and your child. It also opens up a world of possible babysitting trades or trusted referrals

  • When traveling, most hotels and resorts can provide a list of prescreened, qualified babysitters. We have friends who have used this service often and rave about it.  The websites below are national or international, so you can research, interview, and choose a sitter before leaving for your trip.

  • To find a nonprofit childcare referral service in your neighborhood, go to www.childcareaware.org and type in your zip code.

  • For more information on babysitter training: www.redcross.org/services/ hss/courses/babyindex.html

  • On BabySitters.com, every sitter profile is updated at least every 3 months.

  • Sittercity.com sitters are over age 17 and often skilled in areas such as pre-med, early childhood education, CPR, and first aid. The sites includes sitters nationwide. Background checks are available on all consenting sitters.

  • Callforsitters.com offers a comprehensive database of babysitters throughout the country which helps parents quickly locate and screen local sitters in a secure online environment without hassle or headache.

  • 4sitters.com can help a family find the right match, whether a family is seeking a babysitter, nanny, pet sitting provider, tutor, home daycare service, senior caregiver, or house sitter.

  • PhoneaBabysitter.com  puts parents in the United States and Canada in touch with experienced qualified babysitters.

  • 4nannies.com helps families find nannies, long-term babysitters and household staff.  They provide a nanny screening service, including background checks.

  • eNannySource.com lets you search from over 7600 up-to-date, affordable U.S. nannies, offers a comprehensive, helpful online interview designed by a professional nanny agency to help you quickly and safely make the right choice. They offer a free preview search.

  • NewAuPair.com's aim is simple: to provide the best choice for host families looking for help with childcare services in your home – wherever you live in the world. AuPairCare.com is a leading agency providing dependable, live-in childcare.

  • Guardianangelbaby.com, located in Park City, Salt Lake, and Provo, has been providing sitters with CPR/first aid and fire safety training since 1993. They bring their own supply of babysitting items to help entertain the children they spend time with. Each angel has three reference letters on file.