In order to help parents find babysitters, student couple István and Réka Bordás have created a local program using Google Docs to coordinate times for other couples to voluntarily babysit.
The Bordás, both seniors from Hungary, shared their struggles as parents while in school. István Bordás, a hospitality and tourism major, shared, “Last year when both of us were in school, we had felt that it’s really hard to find someone to take care of our daughter. Moreover, we don’t have family here. We were looking around, and we realized it was basically a struggle for everyone else.”
The Bordás Family started the babysitting program last year and said the goal was to help the small community of parents in Laie. Réka Bordás, a peacebuilding major, said, “It’s basically a fair babysitting swap. We were able to coordinate with a few families to have them watch our daughter when we were in school. In return, we would watch their sons or daughters when they were in school or at work. We don’t pay each other, and we just want to help each other out since we are in a similar situation.”
Réka Bordás shared how the program is a great opportunity for children to have play days. “Kids can improve their social skills if they play with other children. It will affect their lives very positively and help them learn how to behave among their peers”
Sister Kathy Edgar, a senior missionary from Utah who is a registered nurse and international board certified lactation counselor, said, “There are so many babysitting needs with the students. Moms are juggling their schedules with their husbands’ work and schooling schedules. Some of the students actually bring their babies to class because there is really not a babysitting plan.
“I thought to myself, ‘It would be nice if maybe some of the students who are working on their education degrees, if they could have some type of day care available where they are not just babysitting, but also working on developmental tasks, mental milestones. Perhaps students have some early pre-school education. That would be a nice way to have a day care–to allow students maybe to have some experience working primarily in early childhood education.”
When parents choose babysitters, Sister Edgar advised they look for people who are patient, compassionate, don’t get angry or stressed out easily.
“I think it’s good if babysitters understand sleep safety,” she said. “They should know how to put babies to sleep on their backs without blankets or pillows that will potentially suffocate the babies. When they are bottle feeding babies, they should hold the babies and not prop the bottle because babies need that close contact with someone when they are bottle fed. I think babysitters also should have had some basic first aid knowledge in case of choking.”
Tea Segi, a sophomore from Samoa majoring in social work, said, “I thank them [babysitters] for being willing to take care of my baby. It’s a special job. It’s not easy and it takes lots of responsibility.”
According to parents’ comments, they prefer to have people they know take care of their babies. Segi said, “The reason why I picked the babysitters I have now is one of them is my close friend and the other one is a mom who also lives in TVA. It’s different when you have a mom watch your kid. Every baby is different, and there are certain things I was worried people wouldn’t know about my daughter, but a mom has that motherly instinct.”
Ashleigh Liu Pu, a junior majoring in elementary education, said parents can be closer with their babysitters by genuinely extending friendships and being curious about the babysitters’ family backgrounds.
Not knowing the babysitters enough is one of the Bordás’ primary concerns as well.
István Bordás said he wants to turn the program into an app so more parents can sign up for babysitting and get to know each other through profile sharing. The couple said they are now sharing a Google Doc with other parents to keep track of time, but they hope an app will be done by next year so things can be done automatically.
New parents’ physical and mental well-beings have caught Sister Edgar’s attention. She explained, “New parents have interrupted sleep usually and this will last about six months. Since babies wake up every two hours or so, the parents are lacking sleep. Physically, they are exhausted. Emotionally, they are going through hormone changes that can lead to postpartum depression and anxiety.”
Having very little personal time is the biggest challenge for new mothers, said Okalani Cheng, a Taiwanese senior majoring in social work. “They will do homework at midnight, get only a couple of hours of sleep, and wake up at 8 o’clock in the morning to go to class or work.”
Cheng said she loves babies and has many years of babysitting experience. She is a good friend to Liu Pu and babysits her baby. Cheng said, “After moms gave birth, they need physical recovery. Therefore, the school should give them longer breaks.”