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My husband and I have been accused of being a bit too protective of our son. Since our kiddo was born, we have been on a combined total of less than 15 dates (not counting the ones that grandparents stepped in to watch). We have had a total of two sitters we trusted enough to leave him with and that was only after an extensive vetting process and requiring sitters to be CPR certified. I have been accused of being a helicopter mother by my own mom – and I am completely OK with that fact.

It helps that my husband and I like to stay home and play card games or video games or readbooks instead of heading out. Whenever there is an Upstate event, we would rather attend it as a family, but even we like to sometimes escape for an adults-only dinner or evening show without having to worry. Since Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, we will be heading out to have a romantic meal together knowing that we made the best choice for our family on who to leave our kiddo with in our absence.

Upstate Mom Nikki Thompson only allows her children to be watched by people she personally knows.

“The first time out after having a kid is stressful to begin with, so we stuck with family members who had been around the baby before so it increased our comfort level,” she said.

More: Valentine’s Day date night tips for finding a reliable sitter

She admits if she were ever stuck in a position where she had to hire an unknown sitter, she would prefer to use a service where the sitters were vetted and background-checked.

If, like us, your family members are too far away to leave your little ones in their loving care, it can become a challenge the first time you want to get away on a date. Many of our neighbors and friends use a sitter they have hired from online resources. Others use the time-honored tradition of reliable neighborhood teens. Several couples we know have worked out a kid swap where they switch with other couples – one couple gets a few hours off one night and the other couple takes care of the all the kids. Depending on the age of your youngster, some organizations and fun play places in the Upstate offer Parents Night Out events.

If it is the very first time you have been away from your baby, former babysitter and college student Rebeka Fadgyas says, “It is a good idea for the new sitter to come over for an hour or two to play with the child while the parents are still at the house.”

Getting to know the parent expectations and the personality of the little one goes a long way toward everyone having an enjoyable night.

Have a written list of emergency numbers and a routine list that you leave with the sitter. We like to have our son fed and dressed for bed before we leave so only fun ensues once we leave. My husband even goes so far as to notify a few helpful neighbors so the sitters have someone in the neighborhood that can be accessible should the need arise.

Admittedly, we might have been over-the-top the first time we went out, but I have never regretted being over-preparedfor the sitter. At the end of the night, a little one who knows that mom and dad “always come back” after he has his own independent adventure means we come home to a happy boy and not one who never wants us to leave.

First date after a baby

Finding a reliable sitter when you want to get away from the house with your spouse can be a Herculean task, but with a little work ahead of time, you can leave your little one knowing they are in capable hands.

1. If it is the first time you have used that sitter, consider having them come over for a supervised play date with your tot a few days to a week prior so they are a familiar face on the day of the big event.

2. Go out for a noon date instead of an evening date so your little one is not facing a change of pattern at night when tired and hungry.

3. Leave high interest toys and activities to use while you are away. Pulling out the play sand and the play dough only when sitters are there can turn a date night into an event to look forward to instead of one your small one dreads. This holds true for older kiddos as well with board games and paints as entertainment.

4. Encourage your sitter to be CPR certified by offering to pay them slightly more once they are qualified. It guarantees you are getting a higher quality sitter, provides them with a skill they can use for other jobs (especially if you use neighborhood teens) and gives you peace of mind.

5. Build up the time for you and your baby. It is okay to pay a sitter for an hour of their time and only spend 20 minutes running to the store. It gives you and your new one time to adjust to being apart. If you spend just a little longer away each time, by the time an actual evening date opportunity comes up, you will both be comfortable with the separation. Just keep in mind you must pay your sitter for the entire hour of time whether or not you are gone.

 

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