Date Night Done Right for Parents
Finding the time and energy to find a quality babysitter so you can have a successful date night doesn't need to be so taxing.
Since having our first daughter over five years ago, my husband and I are guilty of not making time for date night. Up until a few months ago, we had no family living nearby and we didn’t know anyone who we’d trust to take care of our daughter. Personally, I found the task of searching for a good sitter to be daunting and as a busy working mama, I couldn’t fathom having time to do the research. It’s safe to say that my husband and I haven’t had many date nights since becoming parents. My mother, who now lives near us, would even schedule her visits around our anniversary, which happens to be Valentine’s Day, so that we could have a date night to ourselves. Yet, really having more date nights in our lives would be better all around. We need a break, after all, from this parenting gig.
Katie Bugbee, Senior Managing Editor and Global Parenting Expert for Care.com, stresses, though, how important and easy it can be to have date night done right. I had a chance to ask her some questions on how to feel comfortable and confident as you search for a quality babysitter you can trust. And it’s perfect timing as Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!
Do you find that parents are reluctant to hire a babysitter who isn’t a close friend/family member? Why is that so?
It might feel intimidating to hire someone you don’t know. But once you do find the right fit, it can be freeing. We have enough Mom Guilt. We don’t need to add on the fact that we’re asking our cousin, mom or friend to babysit another Friday night—especially on Valentine’s Day weekend which is busy for everyone.
Hiring someone creates a boundary you might not want to cross with a friend or family member. You can set rules for bedtime, dinner options, TV time—and expect these to be met. With family (especially in-laws!) who love to spoil your kids—it’s harder to be strict with what they want to do.
Also, with Care.com’s review system, you can easily access babysitters and nannies who have been evaluated. Of course, you’ll do your own screening, but reading thoughts from other parents can bring you a little closer to knowing your applicants.
Why is it so important for parents to take the leap and leave their children in the hands of a babysitter?
I can’t tell you how much it helps your relationship, as a couple. As a mom of 2, I remember the days of thinking a date night out could be replaced with a date-night in. Ordering from our favorite restaurant—but take-out this time, and cuddling on the couch watching a movie.
The reality? Bedtime lasts longer than expected. It’s too late to watch a movie. And by the time you come downstairs, your food is cold. Plus, you’re still in your stretchy pants with kid-boogers on them (somewhere!) and you don’t have the energy to change.
The repetition of these weekend nights in can become monotonous and sad—even if you don’t feel sad. In fact, you really just feel exhausted. Going to bed at 9 PM sounds like the best night ever.
But the reality is a second wind strikes when you have dinner plans out. You are forced to get out of your comfy clothes, do your hair a little and strike up some fun conversation.
You might wake up a little more tired, the next morning. But also a little more revived. Your duo is back!
How much time should parents expect to invest in researching and hiring a sitter? Contacting former families? Background checks?
I’d recommend you start at least a week ahead of time for date nights, sometimes longer for dates like Valentines, but it can also be done in a day if everyone returns phone calls on time. You’ll want to interview the person (can also be done over Skype) and get a sense for experience and maturity. Then call about three references and make sure they can provide examples of how your applicant responded to certain tricky situations (baby who is crying, toddler who won’t eat). And then run one of our background checks.
For a longer term child care need, you’ll want a nanny, and so this process is different. I would suggest allowing 1-3 months since it’s a more permanent and integrated part of the family.
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