Working and Parenting – Part Three

Finding the Right Caregiver

Before you start the search for a specific caregiver, formulate the qualities you want — keeping in mind the realistic fact that your clone doesn’t exit. As a starter, consider that you want one substitute parent. Consistency of care is the least you can offer your baby. The same caregiver with the same mind-set as you is idealistic, yes; but it’s a place to begin. Next, try the following sources for possible leads.

Baby’s doctor. Pediatricians often have bulletin boards of child-care positions; be sure your doctor knows and recommends the caregiver (although this does not replace your thoroughly checking this person out yourself). The doctor is likely to know mothers who run a mini-day-care center in their own homes, rather than those who will come to yours. Consider putting up you own help-wanted notice on the doctor’s bulletin board.

Resource and referral agencies. Training in how to find quality care is provided by these agencies. They also maintain a referral list of licensed day-care houses and facilities in your community. If no agency is available in your area, contact your local social service agency.

Also consider these sources:
* your church or synagogue
* senior-citizen organizations
* hospital auxiliaries
* your local La Leche League group
* newspaper ads — best to write your own
* nanny, au pair, and baby-sitting agencies

Interviewing Candidates

For those of you who have to sift through resumes and conduct interviews trying to decide to whom you will entrust your precious baby, here’s how to make the decision process less overwhelming and the selected caregiver less of a stranger.

Make a list. Before starting the selection process, make a list of questions you need to ask (see list below). Put the most important questions at the top so if the answers aren’t satisfactory you don’t waste time covering your whole list.

Screen first. To save time and fruitless interviewing, ask applicants to send you resumes and references. Select from these whom to telephone interview. Begin at the top of your question list and, as you get a phone feel for the person, either complete the list or gracefully terminate the conversation. If uncertain, by all means get a personal interview. Don’t let a good person get away. Phone interviews, while time saving and helpful, can be misleading. Beware the person reluctant to provide references. The right caregiver expects to be asked for references.

Your first impressions. First by phone, then face-to-face, impress upon the prospective caregiver how you value substitute care and the importance of her nurturing your baby the way you want your baby mothered. But don’t get too specific, since you want to find out her own nurturing values before you reveal yours, lest she simply parrot what you want to hear. Besides the usual name, age, address, phone number, and so on, try these probing questions.

* What will you do when by baby cries? How will you comfort him? In your experience what comforting techniques work best for you? What do you feel about spoiling? (In these openers, try to get the person to talk about baby care — while you listen and see if you match mind-sets. Is she basically a nurturing, sensitive, and responsive person?)

* What would you like to know about my baby? (Get a feel for her flexibility. If you have a high-need baby, can she match her giving with baby’s needs? You may need to offer more pay for this kind of baby care.)

* How do you feel about holding a baby a lot?

* What do you feel a baby this age needs most? (As you are getting a feel for her nurturing abilities and her flexibility, you’re also getting a sense of whether you can work with this person and trust your baby with this person. Also watch how she interacts with your baby during the interview. Is it forced or natural? And how does your baby interact with her?)

Now it’s time to get down to the specifics:

* Why do you want to look after babies?

* Tell me about your last job. Why did you leave it?

* How will you play with my baby during the day?

* How will you handle feeding my baby? (If you are breastfeeding, does she understand the importance of offering your pumped breast milk?

* How will you put my baby to sleep?

* If my baby throws a tantrum, how will you handle it? How will you discipline him if he seems defiant?

* What are the most common accidents that you feel he is likely to have? What precautions will you take? Have you taken a CPR course? (If yes, ask to see the certificate. If no, would she be willing to take a course on her own time?”

* What would you do if my baby was choking on a toy? (As this to test her knowledge.)

* What factors may interfere with your being on time? Do you travel a long distance By care or by public transportation? (Was she on time for your appointment? — a question to ask her references also.)

* Do you drive? (Ask this only if driving is a requirement for your caregiver.)

* Tell me about your previous child-care experience.

* Do you have children of your own? What are their ages? (Determine if the care of her own children may compromise her availability for the care of yours. If she has school-age children, what alternate care does she have if her children are sick? If she has a baby or preschool child and wants to bring her child along, discuss this option. Meet mother and child together to see how they inter-relate and get a feel for the temperament of her child. Do you want your child also to spend the day with this child? Realize that there will always be3 a “her child — my child” compromise, and if her child is going through a high-need state at the same time as yours, guess who will get the attention.)

* How long do you plan to do child care? (Consistency is important for your child to build up an attachment.)

* Are you willing to do some housework? (Ideally have the caregiver do some household chores while baby is sleeping, which give you more time with baby after work. But a person who will keep both your baby nurtured and your house immaculate is a rare find.)

How is your health? What is your physician’s name, and could I check on the date of you last examination? Are you a smoker? (Smoking and babies don’t mix.) Do you drink? How much and how often? Do you use other drugs? (While you are unlikely to hear a yes answer, get a sense of her level of comfort or agitation at answering the question.)

Ask yourself if she is a physical match for your baby. While frail grandmothers, so soft and patient, may wonderfully rock a three-month-old al day, they may not have the stamina to keep up with a busy toddler. During your interview get a feel for this person’s mannerisms, and consider your feeling for the overall person. Is she kind, patient, flexible, nurturing, with an overall presence and mannerisms that are contagious in a healthy way? Basically, is he a person you want your baby to form an attachment.. Caregivers agency

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