Hi! As everyone who has noticed my lack of employment has surely realized by now, my little Lamb is out of town for the month. And while I'm back in the saddle with all my writing stuff, I've also been babysitting a sweet lil guy, (we'll call him Pumpkin) and it's been interesting to start the process of bonding with a new baby again. It can be super stressful for parents, especially new parents, to leave their babies with a new sitter, but you should know that kids adjust really quickly to new adults and it's actually great for their development!
We've already been through childcare options in the past, so once you've decided what is best for you, remember that even if you hired Mary fuckin' Poppins that there will be growing pains. Your baby will probably cry when you leave. If this is the case, the best thing you can do is leave quickly and with the least amount of drama. More often than not, babies stop crying and are back to their old selves again within three minutes. Don't be afraid that you are traumatizing your baby or that he may feel abandoned. As soon as you're out of there, they'll be just fine. And as a babysitter, there is seriously nothing as irritating as a parent who just won't get out the damn door when their kid is losing it. Let me do my job, people!
If you have older kids, have a casual chat about their new babysitter. Clue them in on their name, what time they are coming, if they're making them dinner, etc. Having this information helps kids feel in the loop and empowered. It also helps them see their babysitter as their parent's friend and someone who will help their parent be happy, so they are less likely to torture their sitter. If your sitter is cool with it, ask them to send a selfie before they come over so your kids can see what they look like. I always send a picture of myself with Maeby, because what's better than a little white furball?
If you have a baby, there's obviously less you can communicate to them about what is going on, so it can be helpful to spend a little time with parent and babysitter together, or to start with shorter stretches of time. I've found that accompanying a baby to the park or on a walk helps get them adjusted to my presence. If you're only just going back to work after maternity leave and it's possible for you to have a few shorter days in the beginning then it's even better. That way your baby gets used to having the sitter around before they're thrust into 8 or 9 hour days parent-free.
All in all, I'd say that it takes a baby around a week and a half to fully get used to a new sitter and for a sitter to really be in sync with a new baby's rhythm. After about 9 days I feel like I'm familiar with a baby's particular cries, their schedule, what soothes them the quickest, and feel fully comfortable with them. In the grand scheme of things, that isn't very long! Keep lines of communication open with your sitter, and if your kids are old enough, with them as well. Everyone should feel comfortable with their childcare provider, kids and parents alike!