Looking after a child is hard work – not only because of the physically strenuous jobs involved like feeding, changing, bathing and playing but also because this cycle goes on 24/7. You are doing this today, the next day and everyday. And one of the first things to suffer is the quality of the relationship with your partner. But even when you wish to spend more time together as a couple, doubts arise about where and with whom to leave the baby with. It can also be expensive to hire a babysitter. If you find yourself in such a position too, here are a few ways to find an inexpensive babysitter so that you can have some romantic time off with your partner more often.
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One of the most effective ways to find a babysitter would be ask your friends and neighbors if they know of anyone reliable. However make sure that these are people you implicitly trust or else the recommendations that come from them may be dubious. And if you get several names of potential babysitters, follow up on those which are suggested to you by parents in your situation – that is couples who don’t need babysitters for the whole day but only for watching their kids for a few hours’ maybe couple of times a week. This way you will know that the recommended sitters are willing to work for shorter hours and for lesser pay. On the other hand those babysitters who are recommended by working couples will be used to working full time and thus for higher pay.
Look through classifieds
An easy way to find babysitters would be to look through the classifieds section in your local newspaper, weekly periodicals or on the internet for agencies which offer babysitting services. You can also search the yellow pages under sections like “child care” or “babysitting”. The telephone directory of your city or town can be another useful resource for looking up names of babysitting agencies. Upon contacting these agencies, it is important to specify the kind of hours you want a babysitter for and the rates you are willing to pay.
Get in touch
Don’t schedule interviews as soon as you get the names of potential interviews. Rather prune the list of potential babysitters to those candidates who come closest to meeting your requirements. For instance use the phone to get in touch with them and then ask about their rates and experience. Enquire how long they are willing to work for. If you are looking for babysitters so that you and your partner can have more time to yourselves, you don’t need to employ a sitter daily who would stay throughout the day. A few hours on specific days in a week should suffice. This means that your rates too would be lesser as compared to what is offered by parents who need a fulltime babysitter. Then again don’t forget to ask the babysitters about any special training they may have received like CPR or first-aid, as well as references from previous employers. You can do all this over the phone so as to save time and effort on both sides – yours’ and the babysitter’s. Finally cross check the references before making a shortlist of the candidates who seem promising to call over for an interview.
At the interview with a potential babysitter, make your requirements and the rates you are willing to pay very clear. If your rates don’t match the interviewee’s expectations, ask if her rates are negotiable. If you cannot afford to pay inflated rates and yet the candidate seems to meet standards of trustworthiness and maturity, offer other conveniences which may make up for your inability to pay high rates. For instance you could offer to have the babysitter pick up from her home and then drop her again after her hours are over. it is equally important to look for traits like maturity, a respectful manner and a calm demeanor which is essential in handing a crisis. Also see if she is willing to adjust to the family’s routine and whether she would serve as a suitable role model for your children. Ideally, she should be comfortable about answering any “what if” questions you ask – like what if your child was behaving badly or what if your kid got hurt. If possible, let your child interact with the candidate for a while so that you get a clear idea of the dynamics between the two persons involved. Choose one with whom your child is more comfortable – for instance someone to whom your kid start telling stories, showing his toys or asking about her. Finally trust your gut instinct when choosing a babysitter especially when you are getting mixed signals.
Look closer home
If you are still not able to find a babysitter, look in places where older girls may be willing to babysit for some pocket money. The local high school or church could be useful resources in this matter. Alternatively you could even ask teenage girls from your neighborhood if they are willing to babysit for a few hours a couple of times a week. However make very sure that the person you choose has the emotional maturity and experience to look after your kids and that you know her family well. Indeed you could even ask someone from within your family to babysit your kid if you are not going out every other day with your partner. An older niece or a young cousin who lives in your town could be ideal for this purpose – not only you will be saving on high babysitting rates but you will get a trusted family member to look after your kids. The only catch with this option is that the person might not be free to babysit on a regular basis.
In the end you need to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of a hiring an inexpensive babysitter. The main advantage of your situation is that your timings are flexible and limited while on the downside you cannot pay higher rates to tempt a better qualified sitter. The best way would be start off by leaving your child with the sitter for a short while when you are not far away; you can take on from here depending upon the outcome of the experiment.