The only babysitter you’ll ever need

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Before I had kids, I just assumed getting a babysitter would be no big deal. After I had kids, I realised that it is a very big deal indeed, particularly when they are still very young. I am not a very relaxed parent, and I have found it absolutely nerve-wracking to leave my babies even with close friends and family members.

The first time I left my eldest, he was about 6 months old and I had tickets to see Tom Daley compete in the 2012 Olympics. I have a friend who lives near the Olympic Park, and she kindly offered to watch him. I’d known her for many years and trusted her completely. However, I still made her a TWO-PAGE LONG list of instructions about how to look after my precious boy. So, you can trust me when I say I wouldn’t choose a babysitter lightly.

The next time the need for a babysitter presented itself, a friend was getting married. The wedding was in a hotel, and we had a room near the reception, so I decided to book a babysitter to come to our hotel room so I could enjoy the party. I booked with a babysitting service called Sitters. I did a lot of research on the company first, and figured there was nothing to worry about since I was only going to be across the car park from where the babysitter would be looking after my son.

The way Sitters works is you have an online account and pay a very small quarterly membership fee and fee per booking, then you pay the babysitter directly in cash on the night of your booking (the price varies depending on region and timings, but is always a very reasonable rate).

The Sitters website tells you which babysitters are near your location (you can book at home or in a hotel/holiday home). You can request a particular one based on reviews, and once you know a babysitter or two, you can request to have the same one each time. You can also request not to have a certain one in future if you find one you don’t get on with her (but this has never happened to me).

All of the babysitters on Sitter’s database are carefully vetted, so you can trust that your children will be looked after by someone safe and qualified. Their checks include:

  • All have completed a detailed application form
  • All have passed an interview with a member of their experienced recruitment team
  • All have at least 2 years’ professional childcare experience
  • All have provided at least two childcare employment references which are checked and verified in person
  • They collect Photo ID and proof of address for every childcarer
  • They obtain copies of DBS certificates and childcare qualifications
  • All agree to Sitters’ Code of Conduct and Terms and Conditions
  • All are issued with a Sitters ID Card

The proof is in the pudding, and I have been so impressed with Sitters from my very first booking. The first Sitters babysitter I had during that wedding came in confidently and immediately established a rapport with my 1-year-old. She had even brought her own storybooks. I left her to put him to sleep and was amazed to find that he went to sleep for her readily, despite at that age refusing to ever sleep for me!

I have now been using Sitters for about 4 years, and have never been disappointed. Near my home, I have a small group of babysitters that we use regularly, and my children look forward to seeing them. My eldest sometimes asks me when I’m going to go out so he can see the babysitter.

Having a reliable babysitter makes a huge difference to someone like me, who has no family nearby. My husband and I have been able to celebrate special occasions like grownups, and look after our relationship. Recently, we were even able to go to a black tie event in London, and we had a babysitter from Sitters from 5pm until 1am. She played with the kids, put them to bed and, as usual, they were more well-behaved for her than they ever are for us!

I highly recommend giving Sitters a try. I was so pleased when they asked me to write this post, because it’s easy to write about a service I already use and know so well. To learn more and sign up, please visit http://www.sitters.co.uk/find-a-babysitter.aspx.

Do you find it difficult finding a reliable and trustworthy babysitter? Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions about Sitters!

I received compensation for publishing this post, but my experience of the service and opinions are genuine.

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How to go on a date with your partner when you have young children

Recently, my husband and I really, really wanted to see the latest Star Wars movie together. In order for us both to be away from our children long enough, we both had to take a day off work. And by the time we added on a modest lunch at Nandos, cinema tickets and some popcorn, we’d spent around £50.

On special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries, our dates are even more expensive. We’ll hire a babysitter, go to a decent restaurant and have a few drinks. By the time we’ve paid for the babysitter, the meal, the drinks and the taxi, we usually spend in the range of £200.

Having quality time with your partner when you have young children gets expensive and is often inconvenient too. I always worry about leaving my kids with a babysitter. Which is why “date nights”, for us, only happen a few times per year.

So I was excited when I was approached by Date Delivered to review one of their dates-in-a-box. They send you supplies for a fun and creative activity to do at home, ostensibly after the kids are in bed and actually sleeping. The boxes cost £33.95, which sounds expensive at first, but when you think back to how much you spend on going out, it’s a bargain.

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You can sign up for a subscription to receive a box every month, or every 3 months. Or you can just buy it as one-off. There are options to send them as gifts as well – a great alternative to a more traditional hamper. There is a fun quiz on the website about what you like as a couple, which helps determine what sorts of boxes you will receive.

The cocktails

The best sort of date for my husband and I turned out to be alcohol-related. Fancy that! So Date Delivered sent us a rum cocktail making kit. It came with the cocktail recipes, the rum and other special ingredients, some snacks and a list of conversation starters. It all looked so pretty and enticing in the box.

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And indeed out of the box. Yum. Rum.

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At this point, I should probably caution my readers who are planning on trying the cocktail-making kit that you really do need to read the instructions before you start. There is extra stuff you need to find. Ice, for starters. Luckily we had some ready in the freezer, but it was depleted because my 4yo son has a serious ice-water habit. We also needed some lime and grapefruit juices, a cocktail shaker and something to measure out the ingredients.

Luckily because we’re a boozy sort of household, we had all this stuff on hand. Although it would be good if the kit could include something to measure the booze. Because my husband is a scientific type and makes his own beer in his spare time, we used a graduated cylinder. Like total geeks. Maybe we’re a bit uptight, but we had to get it exactly right!

My husband also will divorce me if I don’t mention that the cocktail recipe card said you could make 4-6 cocktails with what was provided. He pointed out that the measures were exact and therefore you could only make precisely 5 cocktails with what was provided. Whatevs, though – 5 was definitely enough!

The conversation

So the cocktails were super tasty, as cocktails usually are. The salted caramel popcorn that we had with it was delicious as well. But surely the important thing about this product is whether it actually made for a romantic date night. Did we reconnect? Did we feel amorous?

Yes! We were both a bit surprised by how much fun we had. It was funny because I was spectacularly bad at making the cocktails. So we bickered a bit and then laughed about me not knowing how to shake a cocktail shaker. Here is my husband demonstrating while he laughs at me:

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The conversation starter card that came with the date was also surprisingly good. When I read them on my own, I thought they sounded pretty cringey and that we’d be too embarrassed to try them. But once we had a couple measures of rum in us, we went through all of them and enjoyed laughing about old times.

One of the questions was, “if you could recreate one of our dates, which one would it be?”. My husband wanted to replicate our very first date, but not for the reasons you’d think. He thought it was funny because I ordered a filet of fish at the restaurant but then sent it back because it had bones in it. As far as I’m concerned, the word “filet” means “bones have been removed”. Some men would have been turned off by my diva-ish attitude, but apparently my husband found it endearing.

Another fun one was, “If you could name a cocktail based on me, what would it be called?” That was a tricky one. He named my cocktail “The Clumsy Wife” and I named his “Mr Know-it-all”.

It was great to flirt and tease each other. We didn’t discuss the kids or household admin for a change. We just had a fun chat with no mention of the washing up or who needed to go where the next day.

The verdict

We had a great time! It’s a fantastic way to ensure you and your partner make time for one another without all of the hassle and expense of arranging a date outside the home. And it is so exciting to receive a mysterious box and find out what your activity is going to be this time. I think I might actually sign up to receive a quarterly box myself.

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Win one for yourself!

Date Delivered has very kindly agreed to provide one of the cocktail making date boxes to one of my lucky readers.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY.

Giveaway terms & conditions

  • This competition will open on 2 February and will close on 18 February at 12am GMT.
  • One winner will be selected at random.
  • The winner will receive one cocktail-making date-in-a-box, sent directly by Date Delivered.
  • UK entrants only.
  • No cash alternative will be offered.
  • The winner will be announced on The Mum Reviews’ social media outlets, not the blog.
  • The winner will have 28 days to respond to their winner’s email.

Disclosure: I received a Date Delivered box for purposes of this review, but all views are my own.

Listed on The Competition Database and Loquax.

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