Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Babysitter Dilemna: Monitor your Caregiver

One of the most difficult things I've ever had to do was hire a full time babysitter for my kids when they were young. I found it incredibly difficult to be sure that the person I chose was trustworthy and reliable. Sometimes I made bad choices and had to quickly rectify them. It was always stressful.

One summer I was at our local swim club where a young child, probably about three years old, was accompanied by a babysitter. The little boy splashed in the baby pool while the caregiver lounged nearby. The trouble was, she paid no attention to him. She read a magazine, gabbed on the phone, and even napped. I was horrified.

That evening, I called the child’s mother at home. I explained that I knew this wasn’t my business and I was sorry to pry, but she needed to know what I had witnessed at the pool.

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child. Neighbors, friends, family members and teachers may have more interaction with your babysitter than you do. Ask them periodically what they think of your caregiver. Is she devoting an appropriate amount of time to your kids? Is she respectful toward them, kind, caring?

To me, that’s the role my kids’ teachers served with my babysitters. Now, as a teacher, I make sure to let the parents know how wonderful (or not so much) their child’s caretaker is. There's no greater peace of mind than knowing that your children are in great hands when you arent' there.

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