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June 6, 2013

Signs of a Good Babysitter

For a parent, there are few things as refreshing and glorious as a good babysitter. Luckily (and sadly, because we’re moving in two months) I think we’ve found one of the best.


Not only was she highly recommended by a friend, has professional experience with young children (as a dance teacher!), and is so wonderful that she once stayed a full hour after we got home just chatting with us, she has the same food allergies as Jacob! Never before has someone’s life-threatening food allergies elicited an alleluia from me!


Allergies aside, there are a couple of things about this lovely young woman (she’s a whopping four years younger than me) that I’ve gleaned from our experience with her as criteria for good future babysitters. I’d love to hear other people’s takes on these as well! We’re always learning.


1. She listens to our instructions. And remembers them. Especially with Jacob’s food allergies, it is essential that a sitter pay attention and follow our directions on what Jacob can eat. We have had another sitter stray, and while Jacob was fine, it was terrifying to find out later.


I’m pretty strict about sleep too (or I was before Henry was born). I love that even with a month between one sitting and the next, our beloved sitter remembers what time he goes to bed and what his bedtime routine looks like. Knowing that she follows our schedule as best she can means an easier tomorrow for us.


Full disclosure, I don’t always remember to tell her every detail of how we do things. On one of her first stays, I forgot to tell her that Jacob was in a stage where he needed to hold his stuffed monkey and have it turn out the light in his room. She managed to decipher that, which is impressive considering how much he was talking then!


2. She gives a full report when we get home. When we ask, “How was he?” we get all the details—what they did, what he ate, when he went to sleep, what phrases or songs we might hear repeated the next day (all appropriate!). It takes almost no prompting and is complete.


3. She genuinely has fun with Jacob. Jacob loves anyone who comes to our house and plays with him, and he expects that anyone who enters our home is, indeed, there to play with him.


What’s special is that it’s clear from the way she talks about him that she really enjoys the time she spends with him, too. She laughs at/with him. She thinks he’s adorable without just being interested in watching him do stuff because he’s little.


4. She cleans up! I don’t expect a sitter to leave our home cleaner than it was when we left, but if Jacob’s in bed, I do expect toys put away and dishes manageable in the sink.


5. It’s not weird if we’re home while they’re playing together. Last weekend, I had our sitter come over before John got home from his test, in part, because I wasn’t sure when that would be and I wanted to surprise him (Month of John!).


She played with Jacob and Henry while I made Jacob’s dinner and did some other things around the house. It was another set of arms to hold Henry and it was good to not feel like I needed to tell her everything about the evening in the two minutes before we left.


I was in and out of the room where she was with the boys—she watched both! the first non-family to do that!—and it wasn’t weird at all. Well, for me at least. I remember being the sitter while the parents were home once or twice, and it was awkward. This sitter? Not at all.


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Though we’re moving to a house full of babysitters, I really am going to miss this one. She’s one in a million, and I am so grateful to have found her. Hopefully the good things she’s taught me will help me find another (almost) as good, when the time comes.

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