If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a whole city to help raise a Type 1 toddler– @type1diabetic_life
Whether you’re looking to hire a babysitter or nanny, I hope you will find this guide helpful. We all know that good help is hard to find. It can especially be a nerve-wracking experience as a parent to a young child with a chronic autoimmune disease. Below you will find some tips in hiring and qualities I typically look for in a babysitter for Coral and possibly even my four-month old baby Kaila.
What to look for in a T1d sitter
When searching for a T1d sitter, it’s important to note that certain qualities and skills are non-trainable. Meaning, you cannot typically teach someone these skills – it has to be nurtured from their own childhood and/or lifestyle. That person has to have a natural instinct for survival and adaptation. They need to be able to think and act quickly in times of urgency like when your child is low and needs fast-acting carbs. This personality trait is generally hard to find in someone especially if only interviewing them for about 30 minutes while at a playground or coffee shop. Therefore, you may want to ask him/her interview questions pertaining to their upbringing and how they handle stressful situations. Ask them what was the scariest or toughest situation they’ve ever been in and how they got themselves out of it.
Frankly, people who know real struggle and have had to learn things quickly on their own just to survive are going to be a better fit than someone who feeds from a silver spoon and doesn’t really need the babysitting job. If you can find an adult who is T1d themselves or a fellow pancreas momager to babysit your Type 1 child, then that would be more ideal. It will take less time to train them compared to a non-diabetic to watch your Type 1 child since they’re actually living with and managing this autoimmune disease every day.
Other important skills/qualities to look for include:
Punctuality, good communication, cheerful personality, able to listen and coach your child, encourages & rewards child’s good behavior; and willing to care for your child based on your management style. If the sitter’s on a text-basis and call-for-emergencies, then that’s a plus for me. She should always ask me what to do in a difficult situation should Coral’s BGs be a little whack (aka “glucoaster’) instead of guessing and making an irrational decision that could be detrimental to Coral’s well-being.
Where to look for a T1d sitter
A fellow pancreas momager referred me to these effective sites for online searching of a babysitter, but they do incur a fee so read each of their terms before signing up:
Sittercity – we signed up for this and received many applicants, most who were unqualified, but at least we got some “hits.”
Care.com – it wasn’t worth it to us to signup for both of these sites, but see which one works best for you and be sure to cancel your membership once you’ve found a match. Typically, if a sitter is willing to take the time and effort to write a good listing with no grammatical errors, than hopefully they’ll be worth your time too.
Safesittings – an affiliate site for Beyond Type 1 that isn’t quite up-to-date with their listings as some of these sitters have either canceled their job wanted ad or moved out of your particular state. Also, the UI and algorithm could use some work since it doesn’t always apply the filters in the search engine. Otherwise, it’s my third best site for searching for T1d sitters. You can also create an account and list your families profile in the prospects section here. I did this and didn’t get any replies so, just remember to be proactive and keep checking your emails.
How much experience do they have?
It is of utmost importance to me that whoever is going to be watching Coral has at least 1-2+ years previous experience babysitting other T1d children. Fellow pancreas momagers have also suggested hiring a nursing student – which we have and it has been working out great the past three weeks! Again, this saves some time going over the basics of T1d (insulin for highs and to cover extra carbs, juice for lows…). Otherwise, they aren’t worth paying the typical asking hourly wage of $25.00+. It’s apparently a competitively priced market babysitting in Los Angeles compared to Hawaii.
If they’ve never had any prior experience babysitting a Type 1 child, then I don’t waste either of our time. I wouldn’t want to leave my non-D child with an inexperienced stranger and even more so with Coral for their safety. Also, it isn’t worth training them from “scratch.” As a busy momma to now two young children and T1d being that A-hole who’ll never leave, I can tell you it is not worth my time and effort to train someone and pay them for my free education.
Be upfront with payment & terms
Thankfully, the nursing student who I’ve hired through a referral from another pancreas momager and dear friend, agreed to a tiered hourly wage where she’ll receive an increase once she’s fully capable of managing Coral’s T1d independently without me and again [second raise] when she’s able to care for both my girls so hubs and I can actually have another date night sometime. Some sitters will accept Venmo for payments and others may still use PayPal. Be sure to discuss your payment terms with a suitable candidate once you’ve decided you’re a good fit for each other.
I like to do a paid try-out where they can meet with Coral and me and I see how well they handle normal child care with bits of information on how to use her pump and reading the Dexcom BGs and trends under my direct supervision. If they seem overwhelmed or under destress with minimal T1d information, then I pass and move on to the next candidate.
This typically goes without saying, but you can never be too trusting of certain individuals. It’s perfectly fine to do a background check on someone you don’t even know who’ll essentially be coming to your home and watching your child(ren). Pay the fee and get the background check done for some peace of mind. If you’re extra careful like some of us, you’ll even install a [hidden] camera in the house so you can monitor remotely with your smartphone. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Checkout some of these hidden camera’s on Amazon.
Grow your diatribe
Fortunately, we’ve met so many amazing families ever since moving to LA in 2016 and have became really close friends with some of them. Hosting meetups has allowed us to grow our diatribe even bigger and gives others an opportunity to meet and connect as well. I’m very thankful for all of these special people in our lives who actually have gone above and beyond to help us out whether it was for a date night or late night texting in a group message of support and venting. We all need that diabestie we can rely on in times of need. I truly hope everyone in the T1dcommunity is able to find that same connection with another Type 1 family in their neighborhood. Reach out to someone on Instagram or Facebook. That’s how our diatribe started – with a simple, “Hi! We live in LA and my son is type 1 too!” I’ll never forget you @diabadassmomcandice. Much love forever. You can also sign up for Beyond Type 1’s Snail Mail Club here if looking to just build a connection with a fellow Type 1 family.
Important Note About Social Media: Take everything like a grain of salt. What works for one T1d might not work for another. Everybody’s different and so is their diabetes. Everyone has different management styles when it comes to this autoimmune disease. Always educate yourself and contact your diabetes nurse educator or endocrinologist for consultation and assistance to better manage your or your child’s diabetes. Social media should not be your first go-to for any type of insulin treatment or diagnosis. This can lead to life-threatening consequences for those who are not educated or too young to know any better.
Keep your head up
If you’ve tried all the above and still haven’t found a suitable sitter for your child yet, keep making connections and continue your search. You deserve a much-needed break and it’s bound to happen someday. After Coral was diagnosed, our first date night didn’t happen ’til over a year later. Then, another year passed by until we had a 2nd date night. Both nights were for our wedding anniversary. Have faith and stay strong. There are still good people out there and sometimes the best ones are through other referrals by fellow Type 1 families.
I’ve made some charts to help with training others on Corals T1d for how to treat her lows and correct her highs. Feel free to download, save and provide to your sitter, family, friend, and/or child’s school. Edit and add your own BGs to meet your individual needs. These charts were inspired by @Type1basics and you can find more downloads on her site here.
If you have any questions or would like to add your own friendly advice to the list, please leave a comment below. I’ll be adding to this series of educating others soon so be sure to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our blog for updates. Much mahalos for your support and live well diabuddies!