I haven’t had a first date in 12 years, a fact that is a huge source of relief to me. My husband and I began dating when Facebook was in its infancy and flip phones were as cool as you could get. I’ll forever be grateful that we met and got to know each other before texting and social media exploded.
That doesn’t mean I don’t still feel similar anxiety. I do, only now those feelings are directed toward the hell that is finding and keeping a good babysitter. Every time I do that first-time-babysitter dance, I’m reminded how comparable the experience must be to finding a good date.
Are all the good ones taken?
You know, there are still good babysitters out there. After all, you see plenty of evidence in the form of Facebook acquaintances living it up on the weekend, sans children. There must be qualified, responsible babysitters in existence — and you want one for yourself. Is that too much to ask?
No blind dates, please.
In an attempt to find your own freedom-granting angel, you turn to friends and family, hoping they can hook you up with someone. That can be tricky, though, because this isn’t the time for a blind date situation. You don’t want your sister’s neighbor’s cousin’s mailman’s niece. You want someone they trust so you can trust them too. “She said on Facebook she’s looking for babysitting jobs” is not the recommendation you’re after. We’re not talking blood tests and background checks here, but is it too much to ask for this person to be personally known and trusted by someone you personally know and trust?
Manage those expectations.
Let’s keep our wish lists reasonable. Searching for a sitter who will tackle all your household chores after the kids are in bed? That’s probably not going to happen (and if we’re being honest, it’s a little weird too). Settling for someone who puts your kids to bed at all and doesn’t leave your house looking like a scene from the end of Home Alone? You can work with that.
How soon is too soon?
So, the babysitter arrives. You give hurried instructions as you scramble out the door, promising to be available by text or phone call. While part of your mind is already thinking ahead to the menu at your go-to date night restaurant, the other part is still back at home.
Did the baby stop fussing? Did I thoroughly explain the bedtime routine? Does the sitter need the Wi-Fi password? You desperately want to shoot her a text to get answers to all those questions (and more), but you don’t want to come across as needy or overbearing. You don’t want her to feel smothered or pressured, and you certainly don’t want to risk being turned down next time you want to schedule a night out.
To follow or not to follow.
When is it acceptable to follow these people on social media? If you follow too soon, like before the first time she watches your kids, you risk scaring her away with your eagerness. And if you follow her after, will she think you’re just doing it to judge her for that selfie she posted while she was at your house? Maybe the employer-babysitter relationship isn’t one that lends itself to social media following at all. Maybe you don’t know each other well enough for that.
It turns out that, while I won’t have to experience first date nerves again, I’m still all too familiar with the jitters and self-doubt those interactions bring. They’re worth it, though, if the result is time alone with my last first date.