My husband and I live far away from family. When it comes to childcare, this makes things a bit difficult for us. We don't have the luxury of being able to drop our daughter off with family. I am a stay at home mom, so (for the most part) we are not in need of childcare. There are some instances, however, that I simply can't bring Caroline along with me. And, in the event of an emergency, I would like to know that we have a backup plan and somewhere that we can take her if we need to.
In most cases, if I have an appointment that I can't bring Caroline along to, my husband tries to take off of work for a couple of hours and help me out. There are times that he can't do this, however, and it is pretty much off of the table during the summer months (when his work load picks up to full force)! Aside from taking Caroline along, or just not scheduling my appointments, we haven't had any other options at our disposal.
As a result, we have decided to find and use childcare on a regular basis. Not only did we find a childcare program, we found a backup option!
Our childcare options:
1. Weekly childcare
Before I could find/schedule/use the above options, I had to accept a few things mentally first!
- Just because I am a stay at home mom, doesn't mean I should never have an opportunity to have time to myself. It is not only healthy for me, it is a great learning experience for my daughter to be around other people and not with Mama!
This brought on a bit of guilt at first, but once I decided to admit this statement to myself, things got easier! It's hard, though...I mean I'm home, so why not watch my own child!?!
- I simply can't take Caroline everywhere. I can't watch her if I am at the chiropractor's office. I can't get a root canal done if I'm chasing my daughter around the office or if she's crying in a stroller. Some appointments are just not kid friendly.
- My husband and I are allowed to have a moment to be together without our child. Our marriage needs attention too!
About Childcare Options
There is most likely an organization in your area (often a church), that has what's called a "Mother's Day Out" program. Sometimes preschools offer a similar option as well. These programs are a few hours each week, and give your child a chance to learn social skills while being away from you. We started a program like this at the beginning of the school year (when Caroline was 9 months old). I have 4 hours each Friday all to myself. It gives me a chance to schedule appointments, run errands, or simply have some "me" time. I was hesitant at first, but now consider it to be one of the best things we've done! It gives me a chance to get so many things done. Caroline is also doing so well with this experience. Check out this post on Caroline's weekly program. It talks a lot about WHY I enrolled her. This is her "halfway" report on the school year! We have already signed her up for next year, and found a summer program (since her current one follows the typical school year).
This option has taken me awhile to do, but it is also very important. Most of the people that we know in the area use family to watch their children. So, we didn't have a recommended babysitter. I was hesitant to go online and hire someone, but the reality is that there are great avenues in which to do so. We chose to use care.com (there are several sites out there). I reviewed profile after profile until I found a couple of babysitters that I wanted to contact. From there, we scheduled an in person interview. I have to admit, I was very impressed.
When I conducted my search, I searched for an age of 40+. I was not looking for a high school student with little to no experience with children. I was looking for a former stay at home mom, or perhaps a mom/grandma that is retired and looking for some side work. I got lucky and found a mom with 10+ years of experience, AND her high school daughter as a backup.
The great part is that she has valuable experience raising her own children, as well as looking after other children. I am fully expecting to learn from her, bounce ideas off of her, etc. I walked away from the interview feeling comfortable and like I'd have someone to talk with as well.
I am so glad that we finally decided to take the plunge and find a babysitter. We have 3 dates scheduled with her already: 2 date nights with my husband (Caroline will already be sleeping), and 1 appointment that wouldn't fit into the above weekly childcare time slot.
I feel much more comfortable knowing that we have someone to call in case of an emergency as well!
Interviewing the Babysitter
I had a couple of things that I wanted to make sure I asked the babysitter during our interview. I also knew that I would get a feel for her just by spending some time with her. I didn't want it to be a formal interview, but more of a casual meeting.
We had her come to our house. My husband was home, and Caroline was just getting up from her nap. I wanted to see the babysitter interact with our daughter. I wanted to see how our daughter responded to her.
Questions I was prepared to ask:
- Are you ok with dogs?
- What is your availability during the week and the summer?
- What is your pay rate?
- What discipline are you comfortable with?
- Are you comfortable keeping with a schedule?
After that, I knew I'd figure out more questions along the way...
The amazing thing was that this babysitter was experienced enough that I never had to formally ask my questions. She asked me questions. This gained so much respect from me. I knew that she knew what she was talking about. She asked about discipline before I could bring it up. She asked about schedules. She asked about what we felt comfortable with if our daughter woke up crying. She was comfortable (and seemed to agree) with ALL of our answers. I felt good that we were on the same page, and that she wouldn't be out of her comfort zone.
We also just had some hang out time. We chatted here and there, and came up with more questions and topics to discuss. In between, we let Caroline play and interact with her. We showed Caroline that we were comfortable with the babysitter, and the babysitter had chances to interact with her. The setting was relaxed and comfortable, and I feel that we got a very good feel for how this woman will interact with our daughter. I did one interview with one person, and didn't feel the need to interview anyone else! Trusting my Mama gut!
Take the First Step!
If you are in a similar position with no family in the area, I highly recommend that you consider both the weekly childcare option, and having a babysitter! Take the first step and do your research to find a good program and a reliable babysitter. Pick up the phone and schedule that tour, or interview. You deserve a few hours a week to get things done, and it is incredibly stress relieving to know that you have someone to call! You do not need to feel guilty. Again, this is a healthy step for mama and child!
Today is Pinterest Day for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network and the ladies in the group are covering anything and everything to do with babysitting and childcare options! Be sure and check out our Pinterest Page and check out the other posts today!