Being a parent is great, but sometimes you really need to have some time just being ‘you’. A night out with friends, conversations with grown-ups that don’t revolve around potty training and sleepless nights, maybe even some drinks… sounds like heaven, but what about childcare?

Look no further. Welcome to the ultimate guide to finding childcare when you really need a night out. Read on to find out more.

Start your search

The first hurdle is finding a suitable person who can provide childcare. You may want to think about whether there are any friends or family members who might be able to help out. Grandma may welcome the chance to spend some time with her grandchild. Or maybe you have a friend who just loves babies.

Do you have friends who have children of a similar age to yours? You could consider a mutually beneficial childcare arrangement. One of you looks after all the children one evening whilst the other has the chance to go out. On another evening you can swap roles. So, you both get reliable childcare and an opportunity for some free time.

You could also think about people who have looked after your child before. Perhaps there’s a fantastic playgroup leader who gets on well with your child. It could be worth asking if they are available for extra work in the evenings.

Professional sitters

If family and friends are not an option, then you can always consider a professional babysitter. Personal recommendations are great for finding someone reliable and trustworthy. But just because your mother in law recommends them doesn’t always mean that someone will be right for your family. So, make sure that you always meet with a potential sitter first.

There are websites that you can use to find professional child carers available for babysitting. Often these child carers have plenty of experience. An added advantage of this approach is that the companies often conduct thorough checks in advance and provide references. This gives you peace of mind that your sitter is trustworthy.

What to ask when searching for childcare

Before you leave your child with a new sitter, it is a good idea to meet with them and find out more about them. Things that you may want to consider asking are:

  • What are their qualifications?
  • Do they have a DBS check?
  • What experience do they have of looking after children?
  • What would they do in an emergency?
  • Do they have any safety training, such as CPR or First Aid?
  • What are their ideas for engaging with your child?

Financial matters

It is important to agree on how much you are going to pay your babysitter in advance. Ask them how much they get paid by other families and agree on a fair price that you are both happy with. It is best to discuss this beforehand. Disagreements about money are not a good way to start your evening.

Staying at home or sleeping over?

A key decision is about whether you want your sitter to come to your house or whether you want to drop off your little one elsewhere. Usually, the sitter will come to your house. This is often the best approach. Your home is a familiar and comfortable environment for your child.

If this isn’t possible, you could arrange for your child to be dropped off at your sitter’s house. This is probably easiest if your sitter is a friend or family member. If not, then it is important that you visit the home beforehand. You need to make sure that it is a suitable and safe environment for your little one.

As long as your child feels comfortable and confident with the sitter, then they may well find having a sleepover to be an exciting experience.

Be prepared

Make sure that you leave your sitter with all the information that they will need to keep your child safe and comfortable whilst you’re out. Emergency contact numbers are essential. Ensure that you, or another emergency contact, are available at all times in case your sitter needs to call.

Medical information is also important. Think about whether there are any allergies or medical conditions that your sitter needs to know about. If your child has any existing health problems, such as a nappy rash, make sure that you let your sitter know.

It is also worth talking to your babysitter in advance about the types of food and drinks that your child is allowed. Your sitter needs to be aware of any foods that may cause a choking hazard or could be a potential allergy risk.

Your child will feel most comfortable if they are able to stick to their usual routine. Let your sitter know what time bedtime is. Tell them about any favourite toys or comforters. If there is a favourite bedtime book, make sure you leave it out somewhere easy to find.

Enjoy your time off from childcare

You’ve gone to all the effort of securing a reliable and trustworthy babysitter to ensure that your little one is well looked after. Now make sure you make the most of your time off and enjoy your night out. After all, you deserve it!

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Last updated by Robert Edwards, May 2022

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