What Are the Best Options for Parents Looking for Babysitters?
Parents looking for babysitters often find themselves in a bewildering conundrum akin to staring at the pictorial instructions on how to assemble a multi-level treehouse. There are a myriad of options, and for the inexperienced parent who is often pressed for time (and sleep), this can be bewildering. Let’s explore the options for parents looking for babysitters, and discuss the pros and cons of each.
The Pros: Having family babysitting means that your child already knows their babysitter. The arrangement can be informal, and done with love. Grandparents may readily give up their evening for coveted no-mums-or-dads time with their young grandchild. It may also be at zero cost.
The Cons: If you’re not paying, through a formal relationship, it’s harder for you to dictate the framework and boundaries. Granny may forgo the routine for a lovely long cuddle on the sofa, or decide sweets instead of dinner are fine, for example. This may have knock-on effects for you and your child. You may also feel guilty about needing to use them, or be met with a sense that you are a burden.
The Pros: Establishing a babysitting circle, or a reciprocal arrangement with friends, can mean everyone in the group gets the chance to go out. You’re likely to all be in a similar stage of parenting, or have been recently, so you feel that your child is in good hands. There is usually no cost.
The Cons: The babysitting circles of yesteryear are extremely hard to sustain in modern circles where parents are drastically time-poor. Using a babysitter will always come with the expectation of returning the favour. This can create a sense of burden, and that you owe something. Additionally, expectations can differ, and this can put unnecessary strains on friendships. You also face a problem if these are the very friends you’d like to go out with.
Word of Mouth
The Pros: Reputation carries immense weight when you’re considering a babysitter for your child. Knowing someone is reliable and caring for your friend’s children, or knowing that your neighbour’s teen is backed up by your neighbour themselves, can be enticing. These relationships can prove invaluable for meeting babysitting needs. They can be relatively low cost.
The Cons: These relationships are ad hoc and therefore subject to change, and difficult to establish. Teens leave or move on, or have a conflicting social life to yours. There’s no guarantee your word-of-mouth sitter will be available when you need them. It can be difficult to establish boundaries and be sure you are paying a fair rate.
Finding a Babysitter Online
The Pros: Finding a babysitter online through a local Facebook group, or sites such as Gumtree, can mean you’re able to get in touch with those offering babysitting in your area that you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
The Cons: You will be in a tough position vetting these babysitters, and your peace of mind may be compromised. You may strike lucky, but it really is down to good fortune, rather than careful planning.
Your Child’s Childcare Provider
The Pros: Your child will already have a good relationship with their nursery worker, preschool leaders, or childminder. You can also be sure they have a DBS check, and have a proven track record with children.
The Cons: You may find it difficult to blur the lines between the two different relationships, and jeopardise the important day care option. You may be inadvertently putting your child’s childcare provider in a difficult position where they find it hard to say ‘no’ – in fact, many childcare providers, such as nurseries, will have policies in place to prevent this. You may also confuse your child with regards to their childcare boundaries.
The Professional Babysitter from Sitters
The Pros: You will be able to access vetted professional babysitters, who whilst having a childcare background, are choosing to make themselves available for babysitting work. You know that someone will always be available who is reliable and trustworthy. You will know the clear boundaries of the relationship as it is a professional one, where the babysitter will follow your instructions. You have a clear picture in advance of the fees and rates. You will not need to reciprocate and burden yourself with another commitment on your time.
The Cons: Your child will not initially know your chosen babysitter, but this problem is quickly overcome. There are membership and administration fees, but these are minimal for the benefit you are receiving in terms of trustworthy, vetted, reliable and professional babysitters.
Whichever babysitting option you choose, parents looking for babysitters need to find the right one for them and their child. To find out more about the babysitters in your area or for a hotel/holiday let, register for free today, and browse your local babysitter’s profiles here.