For many parents, the prospect of leaving the children with a babysitter is overwhelming. Not to worry. Finding a sitter is a lot like dating, which you have probably done before.
Though you may have been driving a car that wasn’t covered in Goldfish crumbs the last time you were on the prowl, finding a sitter and dating have more in common than you think.
The types of sitters you meet are actually just like the kinds of people you date.
The One You Hope Looks Like Her Picture
It’s the 21st century, so if finding a sitter online makes you uneasy, remember: Google is your friend. Study her Facebook timeline, troll her Instagram feed, and order a background check. Even if she’s perfect on paper, an IRL meeting could be a different story. Maybe she wears excessive cheap perfume or swipes through Tinder when she thinks you’re not looking. So, keep it light the first time she comes and grab a drink. Save that fancy dinner for when you’re more comfortable with her. And don’t be afraid to use a nannycam, especially if you met on Craigslist.
The Older Woman
She’s raised her own kids. Maybe she even has grandkids. She has tricks that make your head spin. Her ability to soothe even the most difficult child with a loving touch and sweet whispers will blow your mind. She will be focused on your kids, not sexting or Instagramming #OOTD pics while she’s on the clock. Unfortunately, her experience and maturity could come at a high price. You may have to remind her that just because she lost her virginity the same year you graduated preschool does not make her an expert on everything.
You hit it off immediately. You spend 20 minutes crafting the perfect text, then wait 24 hours to hit send. When she comes over, you do your best to appear breezy. You explain you’re not looking for anything serious, just occasional dinners.
You show her your house. You ask her questions about herself. She seems interested. When you try to schedule, she says she doesn’t see it working. Was it something you said? Was it the track marks in your otherwise pristine toilet bowl? Were your kids acting like… kids? Your husband keeps you from texting her after you’ve had a few drinks, “WHY?”
She’s never babysat, but she has younger siblings. She’s eager and genuine, so you give her a chance. You come home to chaos. Dirty dishes are piled high. Toys litter the floor. The baby is on the changing table. Unattended. You wonder if this girl has ever met a baby, let alone cared for one. When you change the baby’s diaper, you find traces of leftover poop in every crease. This girl is just as sloppy as she is clueless. You gave her a shot, now she can practice on someone else’s kid.
The One Who Got Away
You meet at the gym. Your heart leaps if she’s working Kids Korner. She has an instant connection with your kids. Soon, she’s at your house constantly. She spends entire days there while you’re working, returning after bedtime so you can go to dinner. You brag about her to your friends. Then she says she has to be free, to travel. She doesn’t know if she’ll return. You wish her well while holding back tears. Sometimes you Facebook stalk her. She’s riding an elephant in South Africa, partying with hot Australians in Southeast Asia. You’ll lose your mind if you never see her with another family. You hope she’s happy, but God, sometimes you miss her.
Between sips of her margarita, she makes faces at your baby. The chemistry is unmistakable. When the check comes, your husband whispers, “Should we ask if she babysits?” For once, he has read your mind. She always texts back immediately. She plans fun activities, like walks to the park and the library. She makes hanging out at home fun, arriving with hand-picked library books and a potato (for making stamp art, of course). Her devotion is pure; she rocks your sick child to sleep and volunteers to take her to the park when your second baby is born. She is the first non-family member to watch your kids overnight. You are convinced that whoever says you can’t meet quality people at bars has no idea what they’re talking about.
As my mom said, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince. I came home to a soaking wet baby in a backward diaper countless times before I found The One. You just have to keep putting yourself out there and trust that the right sitter is out there somewhere, waiting for you, too.