I remember dreading leaving my baby the first time. I worried about him the whole time I was gone! Nearly 10 years later, it’s not such a big deal to leave the kids for a few hours (or even days, but I’ve only done that once.)
Nursery (at Church)
Nursery has always been a pretty smooth transition for my children. We do a couple of things to get them ready for their first time:
- Prepare by talking about nursery. Let your toddler meet the leaders.
- At 17 months old, and with permission from the leaders, let your child go to nursery for part of the hour to get used to the other kids and new environment.
- Once it’s time to go, say goodbye and leave quickly. Kids whose parents stay for the whole hour never get used to being without them. I know there are special cases, but I’m talking about kids who don’t have attachment issues.
- If you move wards (congregations), prepare for the transition by introducing your child to the new leaders and nursery room, just like with the first time. The first few weeks may be difficult, but it will be okay after that.
- Bonus: If you have 2 kids in nursery at once, the transition is easier. Your toddler will see a familiar face, even if it’s a sibling that he/she fights with at home. My children tend to behave better for other adults and don’t usually fight with each other in nursery.
Using a Babysitter
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at this. I hate contacting people to find childcare arrangements, even if it’s just for a date for a few hours. However, the effort does pay off.
My first choice for babysitting is always family members, but since we don’t live near any, we’ve had a few “established’ babysitters over the past few years. The perfect babysitter will be old enough to be responsible but young enough not to be involved in too many things that don’t give her any spare time. And yes, I believe babysitters should always be girls.
I have a printed piece of paper on the fridge that details the kids’ needs and schedule. It’s in a clear piece of plastic so I can fill in what’s for dinner or any special notes for the day. I put our phone numbers at the top.
I try to work out payment with the girl’s parents. There are many opinions on how much is enough, but I think that comes down to how many kids and where you live. I bet babysitters make more in New York City than small-town Utah.
Leaving for Longer
My husband and I took a trip last October and were gone 3 nights. I’m not sure I’d have anyone but family watch our kids for that long. I made sure to type our daily schedule (an expanded version of what the babysitter gets) to put on the fridge.
I traveled out of state just this past week while my husband stayed behind with the kids. At first, he wasn’t crazy about my leaving a paper for him too, but I reminded him that he’s not usually here during the day. If I were to take over his classroom for a day, I’d want several pieces of paper telling me what I needed to do to keep things running smoothly!
Being able to leave the kids for a few hours is a great blessing. When you find a good babysitter, keep her forever! Or at least until she moves away…
See the rest of my parenting posts here.