A big part of our Sanity Plan is getting help with the kids. With very little help from our families, we are forced to hire a caregiver to help us balance the workload. Over the past month, we have been interviewing part time babysitters for our 4-year-old daughter and 20-month old son.
While we much prefer word of mouth referrals, we had to resort to using a web service. We received 41 applicants, and reached out to at least 10 individuals who didn’t directly apply.
The process has been painstaking and has taken much longer than any other time that we’ve done it. The applicants have a wide range of skills and experiences. Some are moms, some are in school, some work several jobs, some are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives (aren’t we all?).
On the bright side, the lengthy process has afforded us the time to really consider what we need and would like from a caregiver.
More Like You or Less Like You?
I landed on less like me. Our children get plenty of me. And while they love spending time with me, bringing another adult into the house allows them the opportunity to interact with a different type of person.
I’ll explain. I am a pretty strict disciplinarian, and I tend to have high expectations. I err more on the side of tough and impatient than sweet and calm. This, coupled with my children’s strong wills, can be very challenging. I try every day to be a better, more patient mom, but hiring someone who is more naturally able to do this alleviates the stress for all of us.
Secondly, I have pretty low energy (as Mr. Sanity would say: that’s a nice way of saying I am the most sedentary person on the planet). It means that I am not jumping up and down to run around outside and play catch and climb all over the playground. And my kids, especially the boy, need just that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a long way, but it’s not my natural state and even harder to do when I’m summoned for duties each morning at 5:30 a.m. Therefore, I am looking for someone who is active, likes to be outdoors, and will wear my kids out so that we can all be couch potatoes in the evening. Maybe they will even sleep through the night!
Lastly, I am a dreadful housekeeper, so it’s important to me that the person be willing to clean up after the two messiest kids on the planet (since we are handing out awards).
What Areas Should the Caregiver Focus On?
I have always had a big agenda of all the fun things I would show and do with my kids. I think I **may** have hit approximately 10% of that list. Since we are hiring someone to devote 100% of their time and attention to the kids, they can now accomplish some of those goals. Thank God I’m over the phase of thinking I had to be the one to do everything!
For the 4-year-old: Feed her love of learning with exploration and discussion. I need her to be encouraged to clean up after herself. Continued efforts to teach her independence for self-maintenance tasks. She must not be allowed to be rude or demanding.
For the 20-month old boy: I need him to be encouraged to speak instead of scream for things. I would like him to be taken out almost every morning to the park, library, or local attraction. Work on self-feeding and undressing.
For them both together: reinforce what they can do together, and encourage time apart when they are having trouble getting along.
The incredible opportunity to hire a caregiver has given us a reason to reevaluate our family goals for our children. We definitely want a person who has similar values, but we can also pursue traits that can complement our parenting skills as well.
What do you look for in a caregiver? Please share with someone you know who is going through this process today.