Elite Advice: Kid-Sitting Can Be Fun

By Anthony Adler

Q: My husband and I would like to travel more with our kids, but sometimes we would like our vacations to also include at least one romantic dinner at a nice restaurant without our children. I feel our kids are too young to leave alone in our suite. Our son is nine and our daughter is only six. What are your thoughts on baby-sitting at hotels and on cruise ships? Leaving my children with strangers scares me!

- Terri Rothstein, San Jose, California

This is one of the questions we get asked most often. As terrific as it can be to spend time with kids, sometimes a romantic dinner for two on a tropical island is exactly what parents need. Fortunately, you don’t have to be denied.

Most luxury hotels have expert concierges who know the best baby-sitters in the city who are fully bonded and licensed. Since the hotel’s reputation is on the line, the staff takes its recommendations most seriously and usually can suggest a specific baby-sitter by name who fits your exact situation. High-end properties tend to offer high-end solutions you can trust.

When our two boys were just a little younger than your children, the concierge at the Four Seasons on Maui suggested we call the owner of The Nanny Connection, the top baby-sitting agency on the island. We told her that we envisioned our boys having pizza on the beach, playing in the sand and ending the evening watching a movie in their room. She recommended a local college boy named Nick, who spent his vacations away from his Ivy-league university earning money taking care of children. Nick arranged for the pizza delivery, took our kids crab hunting and turned out to be the best baby-sitter ever. We used Nick’s services on many occasions, including five nights on one trip. Our kids corresponded with Nick for several years and he left quite an impression on our entire family. The current rate is only $18 per hour for the first child and $3 more for each additional child. What a bargain for the peace of mind!

Parents hire day nannies or sitters for a variety of reasons that go beyond an evening out. For example, a bike trip down the volcano might be too strenuous for the little ones. You might want to visit some museums while in Paris, but your children might be too young to appreciate the cultural experience. It’s no problem when they can be with a responsible “friend” who is there specifically to make sure they are well taken care of and having fun.

We employed the same strategy at home in Los Angeles when we were having trouble finding a baby-sitter. We actually called the concierge at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills to find out who they recommended for their famous guests. It worked out perfectly. We ended up becoming a regular customer of the agency because we knew they thoroughly screened their sitters.

Most cruise lines offer supervised kids’ programs for children in all age groups. They might participate in scavenger hunts, karaoke, computer game competitions, pizza parties and so much more. Often the kids are hard to pull away because they end up having more fun than they ever dreamed possible. For infants, baby-sitting is usually available for a fee with at least 24-hours notice. Check out the specific programs offered for children before booking your cruise.

There are a few things that can help ease your mind when hiring a baby-sitter on land or at sea. First, be specific about what you want for your children. Do you want them to stay in their suite or have an adventure outside? Do you want a young sitter who might relate better to older children or a more mature motherly type for younger children? Do you want them to enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant, have room service or have a pizza delivered? If so, don’t forget to offer the sitter dinner too. It may not be required, but it’s a nice gesture to someone you are entrusting with your children to. Don’t be shy about asking questions of the agency and giving instructions to the sitter. They are used to it!

You’ll have a wonderful evening out, provided you’ve made arrangements for your children to have a good time too.

By | Published in: Anthony Adler

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