Have you ever hired a babysitter to watch your kids? I have a few times and it’s been great. I am lucky to have family nearby who babysit my kids, but we find ourselves saving these asks for when we’ve got an obligation. Somehow, asking family to babysit for us on a date night seems frivolous when it’s anything but! I like that hiring a youth has no strings attached – it’s not about doing you a favour and they probably don’t care why you’re going out.
The real reason why I hire a responsible young person is because I believe in community, and I believe in supporting our youth. Hiring a youth means you are helping them to develop a sense of responsibility, purpose, a connection to the community, and you are helping to increase their developmental assets. I also think it’s great for my kids to have the experience of being babysat. They get a responsible youth as a role model and they’ll probably have a great time!
I babysat often as a teenager and loved it. I used to say that the kids behaved best when their moms and dads weren’t around! Nowadays, I can’t believe I used to put four little kids to bed without tantrums. Remembering this makes it easier for me to leave my own kids with a sitter.
Finding a youth sitter:
Look within your community!
- Get to know teen neighbours.
- Ask around for references from other parents, friends and family.
- Is there a youth you see in action? (such as walking kids to school) Ask if they babysit.
- Maybe your child’s friends have an older brother or sister.
What to look for:
- Are they responsible?
- Have they completed a babysitting course with first aid?
- Do they have experience with children?
- Talk to their parents to find out if they have their support.
Start with an hour or two during the day. Have the sitter show up early and take the time to show them your home, where things are, and any safety concerns they need to be aware of. Share the rules of the house and go over your kids’ routines with the sitter. Provide your contact number (plus back up number in case you can’t be reached) and what time you expect to return home. If you decide to have the sitter while your kids are sleeping, have them watch and join the bedtime routine to help everyone get comfortable with each other. If your kids wake while you are gone, the sitter will then be a more familiar face.
My four-year-old was pretty ambivalent about having a babysitter, and didn’t say much after the sitter went home. But just the other day my daughter said to me, “What was her name again, Maddy? We should have her back over and you and daddy can go out.” I will definitely take her up on that! 🙂
Have you hired a teen babysitter? How did it go? Share with us:
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For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.