It’s not easy or always reassuring.
You’re on the road for a family vacation. You’ve done lots of family-friendly things and now you and your significant other want a night out.
Or at least a dinner in the hotel’s much touted dinning room.
But who’ll watch the kids?
Hotels will often provide staff sitters or the names of agencies that they do business with, who’ll sit for children while the parents are out.
But the question nags: How safe are your kids in the hands of a stranger …and how do parents choose a sitter they can trust when they’re on the road?
Many good hotels and resorts offer kids’ clubs and baby-sitting services for vacationing families, giving mom and dad a badly needed night out. But not all.
And the majority of child care providers are reliable and trustworthy.
Still, some precautions are necessary.
In some cases hotels offer their staffs as babysitters. Most now recommend two or three outside agencies.
But how good are they?
A New York Times article quoted hotel officials as saying how surprised they were at how trusting parents were about the sitters they recommend.
One San Francisco mother admitted she didn’t do her homework.
“I never really checked with the hotel to find out how they came up with their referral,” she said.
She used baby-sitting services recommended by several high-end hotels, and assumed that if they recommended someone, then they had to be good.
Many parents go directly to the hotel’s concierge for an agency referral, not a recommendation, since recommendations are too subjective.
The National Association of Child Care and Resource Referral Agencies, recommends that travelers take advantage of the service Child Care Aware which connects parents to agencies that make referrals to child-care providers.
Some experts say ideally don’t leave your child in the care of just one adult.
But since sitters don’t come in pairs, what to do?
• Be sure the potential sitter has worked at the hotel before and sat for staff members
• Check to see that the agency screens and fingerprints sitters
• And always ask for references
Of course you’ll leave instructions, cell phone numbers and check back frequently.
You’ll also want to check prices because the costs vary with the number of children, their ages and the length of time.
Giving one of your kids one of your cell phones (if they don’t have their own) can be reassuring, and try to be back in time to put them to bed.
Then, relax. It’s your night out.