It is when all parties involved cry…. as the babysitter leaves for college….. that you realize you hit the jackpot with your childcare provider.
Friends often ask me where I find my babsitters. While I don’t have one particular answer, I have observed I have a “theme” in my approach. And, as last week’s tears attest, it’s been a successful one.
Most of our most fabulous, kids-running-into-her-arms, personality-plus babysitters have come from me initially observing them in their setting. Whether it’s at church, the gym, or camp, I’ve noticed the ultra special gals who seem to genuinely love children. And then I simply ask,“Do you by any chance babysit?”
I’d like to share a few of the times this has happened in hopes of inspiring you to do the same.
Think Camps and Classes – Our oldest child had a fabulous summer camp teacher when he was preschool age. I noticed that she had seemingly unlimited patience and truly got a kick out of our son. I also knew she was a teacher by profession, so I hesitated to even ask if she babysit. So…I didn’t. The last day of class came and went and we were loading in our car. Then I realized we left our umbrella in the classroom and went back, and, being alone with just her, I got the gumption to ask her THE QUESTION. To my surprise, she said, “yes” and she became one of our most treasured babysitters until she left for the big city. Keep this in mind as you sign up for classes and camps and observe the teacher in her setting.
Think Organized Babysitting Services – My husband and I were part of a couples Bible study that lined up babysitters to watch a gaggle of kids. There was one in particular who always had a smile on her face and such a sweet tone of voice when talking with the kids. I asked THE QUESTION and she said yes! Keep this in mind as you drop your child off at gym daycare, church childcare, or MOPS type groups.
Think Park Benches – It isn’t just old retired men who sit on park benches and observe. It’s moms too. We observe children’s behavior, count the number of moms wearing yoga pants and notice good (and bad) childcare providers. Whether its coming from a parent, a grandparent or a babysitter. Last summer, I started a conversation with a lovely lady who seemed to have the adoration of the kids she was watching. It turned out she babysat for multiple families in our neighborhood and also had 3 grown daughters who babysit. Can you say “jackpot?” They’ve been a wonderful family to get to know and our kids have really enjoyed them.
Think Inflatable Bouncy Houses – You read that right. One of our most fabulous babysitters came about because I watched her in action running a carnival game in front of a giant bouncy house. Normally, I really wouldn’t advise this. It did, after all, involve me going up to a complete stranger However, in our circumstances, we were at a fundraiser for a precious boy with Batten disease and I knew anybody who was volunteering for this event must have a good heart to begin with. I watched as she patiently gave my daughter the ball to try again and again and again and talked so sweetly to her. I asked THE QUESTION and actually the answer was no – she didn’t babysit but would like to start. I met her mom and ultimately we not only hired her as our beloved sitter but became friends with the entire family.
These are just our stories. I share them to encourage you to think outside the box of going to a website to find a babysitter. Good old fashioned “asking around” goes a long way too. I encourage you, even if baby is still in your belly, to begin to look around with perked ears and eyes for that gem of a personality who could potentially become a special part of your family.