Your children are precious to you. Here are some tips you could use to help you search for the caregiver you will need for them. A referral service is a good place to start your search. Local day care centers, pre-schools and other child-care resource centers may be able to give you contact numbers of people who have a good record with them. A church bulletin is one likely way to find a reliable caregiver. Put a notice in the next issue and have the names and numbers of respondents forwarded to you. Network, network, network to find the support you need. Tryto find a local La Leche League and/or a local baby sitting co-op. You will not only find caregivers, but also friends. Do phone interviews first, to weed out those caregivers whose experiences donít fit your needs. Include your husband in the interview process so you can compare viewpoints and make a joint decision. Trust your instincts. Even if a caregiver has excellent credentials, find someone else if you or your spouse feel uneasy about her/him. Communicate as one parent to another when you check a reference. Ask, "Do you like her?" How did your child respond to her? What would happen if you came home late from work? Finally, say, "Your opinion really matters to
me. Is there anything else I need to know about this person?" Be extra cautious and ask candidates for Social Security and driverís license numbers, proof of CPR and first aid training, and references from people who are not relatives. You can also visit her house, bring your child, and watch them interact. Start your child out slowly with a new caregiver; one hour the first week, and one and a half the next, or pay a surprise visit. Remember, you are the boss. If you arenít allowed this much freedom, find another caregiver. Donít show your anxiety about being away. That will only make it harder for your baby to make a successful adjustment. You can limit your own fears by not getting caught up in the media hype about isolated cases of child abuse. Stay in the house with the caregiver for the first couple of days, but make yourself busy doing other things. This way you can see or hear any problems that might arise and be able to give the caregiver specific directions and advice. This will help make you feel more at ease once you do actually leave the caregiver and your child on their own.