Your children are the most precious thing in the world to you, so leaving them in the care of somebody else can be tough. When you get to that point where children are old enough to be left with others, it’s time to start thinking of the options. Who do you trust enough to care for your baby? How can you tell if they are the right person?

It may seem like a great leap of faith to engage someone to look after your child, but comfort yourself in the knowledge that this is the natural way of things and has been going on for thousands of years. Don’t overthink it – or you may end up just never going out ever again. Miserable parents with zero social life don’t make great role models and aren’t much fun to live with for the kids – so get out there and re-connect with the big wide world again.

What to look for

A babysitter needs to be someone who is reliable, calm, sensible and mature, preferably with some basic First Aid training and knowledge of CPR. They must be a non smoker and have an awareness of the dangers that lay in wait for babies and children (small items to choke on, cables, plug sockets, slippery rugs, unattended medications/cleaning fluids, baths, heights, stairs, animals, unsecured windows etc). Reading that list is enough to put the most laid back parent and babysitter into a panic, but that’s the whole point – the best babysitters are the ones who have a comprehensive over-view and understanding of the perils, and can deftly manage them in a calm, controlled way.

Babysitters should be positive in their conduct, giving directions using positive language that kids will respond well to. Positive speech is more encouraging and even when babysitters need to criticise, they should do it in a positive way – let kids know what they are supposed to do instead of what you’d rather they didn’t do. When good behaviour is encouraged with verbal praise or a high five, this makes them feel empowered and keen to continue in this vein.

Babysitters are role models and as such should be mindful of the image they project to young people. Being patient, kind, calm and gentle combined with listening well and laughing and smiling a lot will win young fans. Leading by example should result in kids that behave better – that’s the theory anyway!

A focused babysitter is a good babysitter. Watching the children at all times, knowing what they are up to will limit the chance of problems arising. Don’t spend all evening on your phone texting or otherwise distracted – children get into trouble quickly and you need your wits about you to react speedily.

Different types

By far the safest, most reliable and efficient answer to babysitting issues is to secure the services of an agency dedicated to childcare. For finding a good babysitting agency London is a great place to be living and you’ll find a lot of choice on offer. A babysitting agency London style will be able to offer you a level of confidence, flexibility and choice unheard of in the amateur sector. Professional agencies with fully vetted, medically trained and intensively interviewed staff offer the peace of mind and high level of service you would expect with quality childcare providers.

The neighbourhood teen

Ask on the local grapevine to see if there are any local teenagers who do babysitting. Although not the perfect solution, it is usually easy to get a good handle on somebody’s capabilities simply by talking to other parents. Always interview these babysitters beforehand, establish the house ground rules and introduce them to your kids to see what the chemistry is like. Relying on a combination of gut instinct and friend’s recommendations isn’t perfect, so giving sitters a short, trial run in advance is a good idea.

Nearest and dearest

Doting grandparents or loving aunties and uncles are a good option for babysitting because the children will be familiar with them. The downside of having relatives take care of your kids is that they often spoil children, letting them get away with behaviour that non-related babysitters wouldn’t tolerate. However, they usually do it for love not for money, so can be the cheaper option. That said, if you belong to a large family, securing the services of willing relatives on a regular basis might in reality, prove difficult.

Having children is a beautiful thing, but so is going out and letting your hair down occasionally. Stop telling yourself you can’t leave the little cherubs, enough of the guilt, already! Pick up the phone and get sorting out your social schedule and your babysitting bookings. And remember, happy parents make happy kids!