Friday, 7 February 2014

This week: babysitter angst

My husband and I don't go out all that often but when we do, we rely on a  babysitter as we don't have any family nearby. It's always taken our son some time to get used to a babysitter. There have been tears the first few times we have left him with someone but after some time, he gets more comfortable with them and perhaps they both start to learn what each other likes doing and start having more fun together.

Since moving to the house where we live currently, we've used someone who works as a nanny to a friend of our son's. She has lots of experience, she seems fun and she's pleasant and courteous. Our youngest child has always been in bed when she comes over and it's usually been shortly before our son goes to bed so he has only spent short periods of time with her.

This week, I had a rare invitation to join my husband at an art gallery event, through his work. Before children I spent a fair bit of time going to art galleries and museums, viewing exhibitions and have always enjoyed art. Since having children, that has almost completely disappeared from my life so I decided to take up the invitation and we planned to go to dinner afterwards. It meant I would need to leave the house around the children's dinnertime and for the first time ever the babysitter would both be looking after our daughter as well as our son, and also putting her to bed for the first time.

As a bit of preparation for my daughter, I asked the babysitter to come over one afternoon earlier this week while I went to an appointment and she was to play and give them dinner. It went very smoothly with my daughter, she didn't get at all upset when I left, she had fun and was completely at ease.

My son on the other hand, was distraught and crying when I left them! It has been a little while since he had spent some time with the babysitter, as I think the last couple of times she has come after he was in bed but still, she has looked after him quite a number of times and we were both shocked to see him upset. My two-year old daughter looked on in surprise and was hugging and kissing her older brother to cheer him up! He was fine in the end and it didn't last long of course.

Later in the week came the day I was going out at their dinner time and the babysitter was putting them both to bed. My husband and I had talked to our son about trying to put on a brave face and being helpful with the babysitter putting his younger sister to bed, as it was the first time anyone other than us had done so. He nodded in agreement and said he would do his best.

I made a nice dinner and some little cakes for pudding/dessert so the babysitter would be giving them something they both liked and something a bit more fun than usual. As soon as she arrived, the tears started again and my son became almost hysterical. I spoke to him and did my best to calm him down, my husband called and spoke to him on the phone, trying to do the same but he was still a mess! I left, not wanting to stay and prolong or worsen the situation for the babysitter but it was hard leaving him like that.

Thankfully after I left the babysitter started sticking stickers on her face and that got him laughing and stopped the tears! He was his usual happy self then for the rest of the evening and she said he was very helpful showing her everything when putting his sister to bed and he read his sister a bedtime story :-).

I'm glad it all worked out ok in the end and am proud of both my children - my daughter for being so great, trusting and happy with a new person looking after her and my son for coming through and being the fabulous big brother he is to his little sister. It does make me a bit sad though that we had to go through the tears and upset at the beginning. My son never shed a tear on his first day at nursery or school, he goes off to friend's houses without me quite happily so I find it hard to understand why he gets so upset in his own home. My husband thinks there probably is no rationale to it and that we almost need to do it more so he can get used to it. He is probably right....

What are your experiences of leaving your children with a babysitter? Did they get upset but were fine after you left? Did one child react very differently to the other, like mine? Do you have any advice for making my son more at ease from the start next time?
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