Today’s guest post was written by Pauline Osena – a food allergy advocate and mother of 3 young kids, 2 of which have multiple food allergies. She is the founder of HypeFoodie, a resource to help families live and eat well with food allergies.
Finding a babysitter has always been a point of pain for myself and my husband. We have three children under the age of 6, and two of our kids have multiple anaphylactic food allergies. We’ve only allowed close family members to watch them in the past. And unfortunately, we don’t live close to our parents, so we don’t have the luxury of having trustworthy childcare from grandparents very often.
My youngest is almost 2 years old now, and I’m newly motivated to find a regular babysitter so that we can actually go out on dates again.
Initially, I had no clue how I was going to find a trustworthy babysitter to handle three young children AND manage food allergies. First, I tried the old fashioned way and reached out to friends in my neighbourhood for any referrals or leads, but no one was able to help. Then I considered posting an ad online, and quickly decided that would be a BAD idea.
So I did the next best thing: I started complaining about my babysitter woes to pretty much anyone that would listen. A good friend and fellow allergy-mom shared how she had found amazing babysitters through the Datenight app. I was intrigued and a little skeptical, but I wanted to see if this app could actually provide a solution for my family.
It definitely did. I’ve only been using this service for two weeks, and I already have a roster of qualified babysitters that have agreed to work with me and take care of my three littles.
I’m amazed at the wealth of high-quality experience that most of the Datenight babysitters have. It’s so convenient to be able to search through a database and easily find someone you’re interested in meeting! Datenight includes short babysitter bios, hourly rates and credentials such as police check, CPR or first aid certification, ECE designation, and nanny experience right up front.
Once you’ve completed your search, the first step is an interview with the babysitter by phone, Skype video conference, or in person. Screening babysitters to see if they’re a good fit AND to gauge their level of food allergy awareness can be difficult and a little awkward, but certain topics need to be discussed before you allow someone to be responsible for your child and their well-being.
Here are some tips on interviewing babysitters for your child with food allergies:
- Quiz them on their food allergy knowledge.
Start your interview by learning a little bit about their experience or knowledge about food allergies. Ask them, straight up: “What do you know about food allergies?” This is a great open-ended question that will help you determine whether they have any pre-judgments or misinformation you need to be concerned about. This might also be an excellent way to educate open-minded caregivers about food allergies. If the interest is there, a great resource to suggest is the free allergy aware course for caregivers.
- Discuss how your household manages food allergies.
Be transparent and go into detail about your food allergy situation. Tell the babysitter about all of the allergens your household avoids, explain your household policy on outside food and drinks (if you have one), and your expectations in terms of washing hands upon entering your household.
- Talk about what to do in an emergency.
When considering babysitters for children with medical needs, it’s nice to hire someone with First Aid training, but it’s not always necessary. The most important thing to know is that the candidate is willing to act in a medical emergency. Ask the babysitter if they have ever needed to call an ambulance or deal with an emergency in the past. Discuss the role of epinephrine, and find out if they are comfortable administering the EpiPen in the event of an allergic reaction.
It’s a good idea to give a quick refresher on how to properly use an EpiPen at the beginning of every babysitting session. A practice EpiPen allows you to give a quick hands-on demonstration. If you don’t already have one, ask for a free EpiPen trainer from your pharmacist, allergist or order one directly from the website.
- Don’t forget that your kids are kids.
It can be easy to focus so much on food allergy management that you forget to ask standard questions that would apply to all children. Make time to ask about what kind of activities the babysitter likes to engage in with the kids and what their disciplinary tactics are.
- Trust your instincts.
A babysitter may be the perfect candidate on paper and might respond with all of the perfect answers during your interview, but if a little nagging voice in your head tells you that they will not be a good fit for your family, then don’t hire them. The beauty of Datenight is that the database of qualified babysitters is large, so you can start the interview process with several candidates and look for a babysitter that suits your family.
Once you’ve decided on a sitter, you’ll have 3 other big decisions to make: which night to go out, what kind of restaurant, and what outfit to wear!
This post was brought to you by Datenight Babysitting — Toronto’s leading mobile app connecting parents with experienced, local babysitters — with thousands of dates booked in the GTA. Try Datenight Babysitting FREE for a month! Use the code “FREEPROMO” when you register to take advantage of this offer!