Having a child that has special needs can be overwhelming and, at times, exhausting. One of the most difficult things about being a parent to a special needs child is finding a babysitter. The thing that makes finding a babysitter for your child is that most special needs children take a lot longer to feel comfortable with new people. Most children will take to whoever you hire pretty quickly, and they will understand that you are coming home after you go to work or have a date night. However, it can be more difficult for children with special needs to become comfortable with strangers. If you are in the market for a babysitter, here are some ways to find the perfect fit.
1. Don’t Be Shy About Your Child’s Needs
When you are looking for a babysitter, it is best to be upfront and honest about everything your child needs. If they are nine years old and still require pull-ups, that is something you should tell them before they arrive to babysit your child. There is nothing wrong with a child having different needs; it is just best that everyone is on the same page. Your child might know they need their medicine at a specific time, but the sitter may not. This could lead to a lot of unnecessary frustration and aggravation. You may even want to leave a list of what ways work best to communicate with your child.
2. Figure Out What Matters Most About Your Sitter
Do you want a sitter that is available all the time? Or maybe one that has been trained to deal with children that have special needs. Maybe you’d like to have one that can deal with numerous children at once. Before you start interviewing to find the right one, you will want to figure out what is going to be the biggest selling point for your sitter.
3. Do Plenty of Research
There are some not very nice people in the world, and you want to make sure you are not allowing them around your child. Regardless of how you meet your sitter, you must be doing your research. If a friend recommends them, they may be a bit bias. If you found them through a website, they might not have done their research.
4. Know Where to Find Sitters
Finding the right babysitter will require a lot of research. The best way to find the perfect fit is by knowing where to look. There are a lot of different places that you can look for a sitter. You can try to ask friends who also have children with special needs. If you don’t have any friends that can recommend one, you can look at specific websites that offer sitters for kids with special needs.
5. Provide Detailed Instructions
Just like with any other babysitter, you will want to provide detailed instruction. Although, with a special needs child, you might need to provide even more in-depth instructions. You may need to include times they eat, what they eat if they take any medication, or anything else. A lot of children can say that they want chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese for dinner. However, a child with special needs may not be able to communicate this to their sitter.
6. Start With Short Windows of Time
Instead of taking off for a weekend trip and leaving your child with their new sitter, start with shorter windows of time. For example, introduce them over lunch or dinner. Then, have your sitter stay with them while you go to the grocery store. This will show your child that they will be okay with this stranger, and you are always going to come back. It might take a few times before they are completely comfortable. After a while, your child is going to start enjoying their sitter and will be disappointed when you come back.
7. Don’t Expect Many Extra Services
Some babysitters will gladly watch multiple kids, make dinner, and clean the house. However, if you are hiring some specifically to watch your special needs child, you should not be expecting this kind of service. Children with special needs require a lot more attention and effort than other children. Sometimes they will need certain medication at specific times. At the same time, others might not want to relax around a new sitter. Or they are just overwhelmed and require a lot more effort than other kids that would be content just to watch TV. So, if you are looking for someone that will clean your home while watching your child, you may need to hire a housecleaner.
8. Be Prepared to Pay More
Since watching a child with special needs requires more work, it will cost more. It is unfortunate, but if you are expecting someone to follow every instruction precisely, then you should be ready to pay the price. This might mean that you won’t be getting a sitter every week. However, it is a small price to pay to be able to go to the grocery store alone or have a date night.
Every parent needs a break at some point. There is nothing wrong with that. More and more parents are starting to work as well as run the household. This means the regular date nights are to keep your marriage healthy. If you are the parent of a special needs child, you know just how hard it can be to find the right babysitter. The best way to find the perfect fit is by following these tips. It can be exhausting, but once you find the right babysitter, it will all be worth it! They will probably even become someone that your child considers a friend.