This is a continuation of Adventures in Babysitting that chronicles a ridiculous evening of babysitting that I experienced when I was a teenager. This installment focuses on some of the interesting people who have watched our kids over the past 9 years.
The old saying, “good help is hard to find” is 100 percent true when it comes to finding and retaining sane part-time babysitters. Notice, that I say part-time. I think there are quality people out there interested in pursuing careers in childcare, but many of those are interested in full-time nannying gigs that include a set salary and benefits. However, for those who do not need or cannot afford a full time Mary Poppins, things can get tricky. We realized this the hard way when I returned to work when my first born was a few months old and we needed to find someone to watch him. Fortunately, my husband works in the house and was able to intervene when needed.
Sitter 1- She was awesome! We loved her! However, she left us a few weeks later to pursue a career in landscape architecture.
Sitter 2- This was an older lady who shared with us during our interview a sad story about her own desire to have children that never materialized. She had been a foster parent to a baby boy and had hoped to adopt him. Her dreams were shattered when he was eventually returned to his biological parents.
On day 1 of watching our beloved first born, she took him on several long walks. Every time he would cry, she would leave the house with him and walk, sometimes returning more than an hour later. Part of the problem with this was that this was during July in Charlotte. It had to be over 100 degrees. I worried about my baby overheating in his hot stroller. My second concern was that she was going to walk off with him to replace the baby boy that she never had a chance to adopt. After this eerie first day, we informed her we were no longer in need of her services and sent her on her way.
This sitter came highly recommended from a friend. She had experience as a nanny, but was in between positions. She, however, did not seem to have a clue about how to relate to a baby. She spoke to our 7 month old as if he was an insolent teenager, who was intentionally not behaving, rather than a baby who didn’t really know what he was doing. “What on earth are you doing? Why are you doing that? Crawl over here! Put that toy down! Stop that!,” she was overheard saying. When my husband later left the house for an appointment, we came back to finding the baby in his crib surrounded by dozens of toys and snacks. We had a feeling, she dumped him in the crib and left him to fend for himself, once my husband left the house. Next!!!
This young woman came to the interview very prepared. She came with a portfolio with a list of references and certificates indicating that she passed a babysitting & CPR course. Also included in this portfolio was a sample contract with an extensive list of requests that needed to be fulfilled if we were to hire her. These included-
A. 10 days of paid vacation
B. 10 days of paid sick leave
C. Contributions toward her retirement plan and health insurance
D. A rate of $25 an hour
My job didn’t even provide the majority of those requests! I’ll give her credit for being prepared. However, it was a bit much to ask for given that we only needed her 2 days per week. I truly hope she found what she was looking for, but she certainly wouldn’t find it with us.
This incident occurred years later when my second son was an infant. This time, both boys were watched at the sitter’s house, with her own kids. This went well for awhile, until she casually mentions that she has been keeping my son in the pack- n- play in the closet during nap time, so he wouldn’t be interrupted by the older children. Wait, what? Nobody puts baby in the corner, I mean closet! I had so many concerns about this in regards to SIDS and potential suffocation due to lack of air circulation in a stuffy closet. I spoke to the sitter about it and she agreed that she would stop. Phew! Fast forward, a few months and my older son casually mentions that the baby is napping in the closet again. The end!!
There were a multitude of other sitters along the way. Many of who stayed for a few weeks, some who lasted a few months. Several cancelled last minute and left us high & dry. The stress of finding consistent, quality care was intense!
As the kids got older, they were able to attend a wonderful, nurturing preschool that eventually offered extended hours of care that accommodated my part time work schedule. We have been there for 9 years now and my youngest is thriving there today!
- Don’t move away from family who can watch your kids while you work.
- Win the lottery, so you can hire Mary Poppins or the Super Nanny.
- Forget about paying your bills and pursuing the career you love, so you can stay at home with your precious children.
- Pray! Drink! Meditate! Hang upside down! Engage in whatever form of stress relief that will get you through this challenge and any other challenges that life throws at you!