I’ll admit, I can be an overprotective mother. So I’ve always been a little picky about who I leave my kids with. When my 2-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer, “a little picky” turned into a babysitter interrogation process followed by intense training.
Here are a few things I looked for in a babysitter—and what I recommend looking for when you have a child with cancer:
1. Understood Cancer—And The Importance Of Following Instructions
If Cooper had a fever, our instructions from the doctor were to immediately take him to the closest emergency room. That can seem ridiculous to a person who doesn’t understand cancer treatment. After all, it’s just a fever, right?
Wrong! Due to his cancer treatment, Cooper’s immune system was very weak. Illnesses could go from bad to worse dangerously fast, so it was important to get him to a hospital at the first sign of a fever.
I made sure I had a babysitter who understood our situation. The people we left Cooper with had been reading his online health journal, following our story, and knew just what a fever could mean to our little man.
2. Responsible And Reliable.
Before Cooper was diagnosed, we typically had high school kids watch our children. My husband’s a teacher, so he always had the inside scoop on who was the most responsible, and I felt like we were getting the best of the best. But when Cooper was on treatment, we basically only hired adults to watch him.
With a child with cancer, a normal moment can turn into a medical emergency in a split second. No matter how responsible a high schooler is, I felt it was too much pressure for a teenager to be responsible for chemotherapy, fevers, and remembering to wash her hands every time she turned around. So we hired adults.
3. Great Communication Skills
The select few adults who made it through the babysitter interrogation process then had to go through my rigorous babysitter training. I taught them about chemotherapy administration and proper hand-washing practices, and, no doubt, made suggestions about the correct way to breathe. (Kidding about that last one…)
I needed to know the person who was caring for my child was capable of understanding my many instructions. So sometimes, I even asked them to repeat back to me his medication schedule or what they needed to do if he got a fever. I didn’t want to take any chances the babysitter hadn’t understood my instructions.
We live a couple hours from family. Grandparents helped out whenever they could, but there were still many days when we relied on those few, chosen adult babysitters. I am forever grateful for the people who took such great care of Cooper and helped keep him safe during his cancer treatment.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.