I have yet to meet a mom that doesn’t feel some level of anxiety and/or guilt when leaving their young children at home with babysitters. I write this as I sit alone at a bar inside a WholeFoods, trying to get some personal work done, as my daughters are at home with our new babysitter. My husband is traveling, which means I am home with the kids by myself 24/7. So, getting this break is much needed, as it becomes impossible to get anything personal done when I’m around them.
This mommy guilt comes from a good place, but it can have negative consequences that fuel common insecurities I have as a mommy. I wish I had time to get it all done and make everyone happy (including myself). But ultimately I only have enough time in the day to care for others, frequently putting my needs on the back burner.
I often wonder if this mental break from being a mommy will have a negative impact on my daughters. Will this damage our bond? Will they resent me later in life for being away from them? The answer is a resounding, No!
After a few years of putting myself last, I am beyond confident that I would have mommy meltdowns on the regular, if I didn’t get this time to myself a few times per week. Operating under the assumption that being with your kids 24/7 equals good parenting is not correct. It may be for some people, but not for everyone– and it certainly doesn’t make you a less-than parent for needing time away.
I have always been an ambitious person and I pride myself in being able to do it all. However, I would need be awake for 20 hours a day, to give my undivided attention to my daughters, spend time with my husband, dedicate time to my physical and mental health, while also keeping the house from falling apart and doing other things that bring me personal satisfaction. Clearly it’s not only unhealthy, but also not sustainable to do this for a long period of time.
Of course being with my children is the happiest time of my life, but the need to stimulate my mind didn’t just vanish the day my daughters were born. My mind is still craving mental stimulation that comes from continuing to grow myself as an individual. This ambition and desire keeps me motivated to succeeding at motherhood, as well as the different facets of my life. I’ve come to understand that letting go of myself and forgetting who I was before children, hinders me in the pursuit of being the best mom I can be and of being an overall good person, period.
Every family has to do what they have to do to survive some of the most demanding years of their lives. It really does take a village to turn these babies into amazing little human beings, and some of us have to employ the members of that village.
So if you’re still feeling mommy (or daddy) guilt about hiring babysitters/nannys to care for your children, here are some things that might help ease those feelings a little bit:
Vetting– obviously trusting the person is essential to feeling more at ease.
- Prepare a list of must have skills and experiences before embarking on your search (i.e. CPR training, educational background, etc).
- Be realistic with your demands relative to your desired pay rate. If you want someone with lots of experience, credentials and certifactions, expect to pay top dollar for it.
- Speaking of hourly rates, have a range in mind before you begin your search.
- Rates vary depending on your location, work hours, number of children and their ages, along with job responsibilities and your candidates’ credentials.
- Ask your friends about their experience with babysitting rates and/or do some research online.
- Speaking of hourly rates, have a range in mind before you begin your search.
- Conduct your candidate search on reputable sites. I have nothing against Craigslist, but it may not be the best place to post an ad searching for a babysitter.
- Personally I’ve had success with care.com, Nextdoor and local Facebook mommy/nanny groups.
- You may want to also ask your mommy friends if they could share they sources as well. FYI- some moms may be hesitant to share their babysitters with you in fear that their availability might change.
- Pre-screen over the phone- so you don’t waste each others’ time. If they sound awkward over the phone, they will be awkward in person.
- Interview pre-screened candidates in person with your children present.
- For me, it helps to see their body language around my children. If they say they love to play with kids but make no efforts to engage with my children, chances are they will not be coming back.
Trial Run- after you’ve hired him/her, have them come while you’re home and stay with them so you start to build trust.
- I recommend at least a 2 hour period so the kids have time to open up.
- We like to invite the babysitter over for dinner a few times before we let her fly solo, it just feels like a more natural invitation.
- Allow your child to slowly start to get to know them, at their own pace.
- This is a good way to show the babysitter around your home and get them acquainted with where to find things they might need.
- Use this time to begin walking the babysitter through your routines. I recommend writing/printing out a schedule if your kids are used to following a set routine.
- Go over any rules, such as screen time or sweets/snacks.
Babysitter=Fun- said in other words, we want our kids to associate the babysitter coming over with fun.
- In the beginning, reserve some special activities for the babysitter to do with the kids so they start to associate her with fun.
- We plan for them to watch a movie/show they don’t get to watch often, go to a park, eat a special meal like pizza and cookies for desert, or do a fun art project.
- Pep talk your kids on how much fun they’re going to have with the babysitter.
- After the babysitter leaves, ask them what they did with her and be enthusiastic.
- Continue to weave her in your regular conversations, so they don’t forget about her.
Never sneak out without telling your kids you are leaving- this might seem like the less traumatic option. However, I am inclined to believe that doing this will start to break the trust with my children. We’ve actually tried it a few times and it just caused them to be even more clingy, making it harder to leave the following time.
- Keep your goodbyes short and sweet. Give them a big hug, tell them you love them and that they are in good hands while you are gone. Tell them you will be back home soon. Leave.
- Don’t linger. My husband used to have a hard time with this one. After he said his goodbyes, he would go back and hug them again, and then go back inside to grab his jacket or his shoes. This made them more emotional, and perhaps gave them hope that we decided to stay home after all.
- Kids will do anything it takes to keep you home. So if you stay longer after they cry, they will cry even harder and longer the next time.
- A good way to ease them into it, is to tell them the babysitter is coming about an hour before she is due to arrive. Our kids usually cry and say they don’t want us to leave, but luckily we have a whole hour to work them through it and give them the assure they need.
- Kids mirror will your feelings. So if you’re anxious and nervous, they will act the same exact way. Remember, you’ve vetted through all the candidates and you hired the best one, so leave confidently.
Check in after 15 minutes of leaving- if you must.
- We like to text the sitter to ask how they are doing. Over time they seem to be upset for less time. The crying seems to only last as long we’re in the house, perhaps in an effort to change our minds.
- Camera- we also have a nest cam that we take a look at here and there to make sure everything is ok, but we try not to use it.
Recap with Babysitter when you come home- so you can decide if you need to tweak your strategy for next time. Each child is different so your approach will be a little different than ours.
Good Luck! 🍀
❤Be Healthy Mami