There comes a time in every new mum’s life where you poke your head out of the fog of endless feeding, lack of sleep, and constant nappy changes, and start to remember that you used to be a non-mum person and do non-mum things. And you realise that, while you love your child dearly, you wouldn’t mind doing those things again from time to time. But how? Here's Elaine Farrell with some tips, with some help from our friends at bubble, the genius app for connecting parents with great babysitters their friends already know...
As great – and vital – as it is to spend time without your child, the first time you leave them with a babysitter can feel a little strange. Here are some tips to help you through it...
Spend time selecting a sitter you feel comfortable with
By the time your kids are eight or nine, you’ll be grabbing strangers off the street to sit with them while you dash to the pub, but those first few times can be a source of stress and worry. Look through profiles, read reviews, contact connections you have in common, and arrange a chat with the sitter on the phone before they come. Once you’re happy with your choice, the rest will be easy.
After months of not drinking much through pregnancy and early motherhood, you might want to head straight to a bar and drink shots all night until you’re sick, but for the first time away from your baby, you might feel more comfortable with an hour or two in a local café, drinking coffee and reading the papers in peace. This will gently introduce your baby to the idea of a new person looking after them and will be easier for you too, as you’ll almost certainly find it weird the first time you step out of the house without your child.
Choose an experienced sitter, and let them get on with it. You can leave a few instructions of anything specific to your child, e.g. allergies and the comforter they absolutely won’t sleep without, but you don’t need to write a 20-page instruction manual. If anything, this could be counterproductive as you wouldn’t be letting the sitter follow their instincts and get to know your child themselves.
Banish the guilt
It’s perfectly normal to have a life beyond your child, and it’s healthy for both of you. You will benefit from the time to yourself, while they will learn that they can trust other adults besides their parents and that, while mum and dad might leave from time to time, they’ll always come back.
For the first time with a new sitter, book them to arrive at least half an hour before you need to leave. This will give you time to show them around, pass on all the information they need, and settle your child with them before you head out.
When it’s time to leave, get out of the door as quickly as possible. Tell your child you’re leaving, that you’ll be back later, give them a kiss, and leave. Whatever happens, even if you’ve forgotten something, DON’T GO BACK INSIDE. Your little one might cry a little bit as you’re leaving, but will almost certainly stop pretty quickly once you’re gone. The longer you linger, the longer they’ll cry, and it will make things harder for both of you.
Ask for pics
Ask the sitter to send you photo updates rather than simple texts. When you see your little one’s happy little face for yourself, you’ll know they’re fine and you can stop worrying.
Relax the rules
You might like your child to follow a specific routine, but prepare for the fact that your sitter might not do things in exactly the same way as you or may take longer over certain tasks. Remember that, as long as they get the important things right, and your child is happy, it doesn’t really matter if, just this once, naptime is half an hour later than usual.
When you’re out, turn your ringer up to full volume and then put your phone down. You don’t need to call the sitter every 15 minutes. Let them get on with it, and trust that they will call you if they need you.
Do it again!
The more often you book a sitter, the more relaxed you’ll feel about the whole thing. Parents use bubble to book sitters so they can go to an exercise class, get a haircut, go to the dentist, or even just have an extra hour or two in bed. Once you get into the habit, you’ll be enjoying time to yourself whenever you want it!
bubble is an app connecting great parents to the great babysitters their friends already know. Get it on iOS & Android.