Need a sitter for your exceptional kiddo? Give these saintly sitters a call.
There are few aspects of exceptional parenting more exciting – or terrifying – than finding a sitter. Once you get past the hurdle of locating a reliable, engaging stand-in whose hard-earned fees won’t cause you to pull out a second mortgage or spend the next six month’s rent, the process should be pretty straightforward:
- Leave instructions for dinner
- Post numbers where the sitter can reach you
- Pat the kids on the head, say “be good, we love you, listen to the sitter,” and
- head for the door; run like wolves
Only for you, it’s not that simple. It’s a vexing conundrum, on par with solving an advanced mathematical equation from that undergraduate course you didn’t mean to take. Because when it comes to the typical babysitter procurement process, the most relatable part of the whole shebang is more akin to Jack-Jack Attack – the short following Pixar’s The Incredibles:
“The baby was exploding!!! Have you ever seen an exploding baby, Mr. Dickerson?!?”
Here’s the thing. Your kids are different.
They’re pint-sized scientists who literally climb the walls. They’re doyennes of stage and screen with a flair for the dramatic exit (entrance?). They’re MacGyver-esque ninjas who disappear without a trace, smuggling out the toaster, the iPad, and that five-pound bag of emergency Twix.
Finding a babysitter is supposed to be fairly straightforward.
For exceptional families, it is NOT.
But what if – what if? – you could enlist the services of an elite, specialized sitter crew. A cadre of competent caretakers so capable they should be nominated for sainthood.
What if they already are?
13 Saints Perfect for Babysitting Your Exceptional Kids
Sts. Zelie and Therese Martin; Servant of God Leonie Martin: sitters to the strong-willed and highly sensitive
Hands down, the Martin women are the best option for your strong-wiled, stubborn, I’m-not-moving-from-this-spot-even-if-you-make-me children.
As the mother of exceptional children herself, St. Zelie had an intimate understanding of children with a propensity to exhibit death throes on the steps. Don’t you imagine she’s well-versed in tantrum-taming techniques (you know the ones: toting the surfboard, bandying the bag of bones, and bear-hugging-till-you-calm-down, kiddo)?
Zelie’s daughters, Therese and Leonie, would be excellent sitter picks, too, especially for older, slightly more rational ragers with self-reflection skills. Their wise counsel and assurances of, “Hey, I’ve been there” will go a long way toward quelling meltdowns at the start.
Blessed Teresita Quevedo: guardian to the passionate, dramatic, fun-loving (exhausting! terrifying!) wild-at-heart.
You won’t have to worry about wild parties or window escapes when Teresita is in charge. Known for her charisma, extroversion, and propensity for driving Dad’s car a little too fast (top-down, music up, ladies?), Teresita was a delightfully popular girl with a heart devoted to God.
Yes, Teresita was a partier. And yes, she loved her friends. But because she loved them, she made sure each one lived to know, love, and serve our Savior.
No doubt she’d do the same for your kids.
St. John Bosco: the fun-loving conscience of the charming rogue
If you have a mischievous charmer, you’re probably keenly aware as to why this pairing’s a good fit. The charming rogues are the kids whose sparkling eyes and dimples wheedle their way into and out of everything, leaving you (and the sitter, and grandma, and great aunt Bessie) feeling pretty good about getting tricked.
This won’t be the case with Don Bosco, however, who was once a delightful charmer himself. His talent for reaching even the most rascally of street gangs steered all manner of lost boys back to the Heavenly Father, courtesy of his creativity and wit. He had a talent for reaching even the most rascally of the lost boys and street gangs he encountered, using love, humor, and pure entertainment that drew them home to Christ.
St. Zita: role model to the daydreamers lost in clouds of dust and stuff
Exceptional kids have a hard time cleaning up after themselves. It’s not that they don’t want to help you clean – not always. It’s more that they don’t see the mess or the chaos or the general need in the first place as they are entrenched in their interior thoughts.
As the patroness of cleaners and laundry workers, St. Zita would have no trouble whipping these kids into shape. She’d not only help them learn to clear the space but also open their eyes to it from the beginning. Coming home to a clean house and happy kiddos seems like a date night win to me.
St. Benedict: caretaker of the executive dysfunction in your highly unorganized life
In much the same way that exceptional kids don’t see their messes, they have trouble with the old organize and sort, too. They get distracted or hyper-focused and suddenly everything they own is everywhere.
They don’t mean to be messy or chaotic. They just can’t help the way their brains react.
Fortunately, though, St. Benedict has a talent for organization. Originally developed for those in the monastic life, his Rule of Life has since won over many an unorganized heart. It’s been used for centuries as a way to order one’s mind, body, and spirit.
An afternoon or evening with St. Benedict will give your chaotic kiddo an organizational head start.
St. Moses the Black and St. Nicholas of Smyrna: for kids who struggle with emotional regulation
Got an explosive, fiery kiddo on your hands? Give Saints Moses and Nick a call. Not the type to shay away from confrontation, both of these men have extensive experience in the skills involved for emotional regulation.
They each had to learn how to handle necessary confrontation while keeping a handle on themselves.
When you leave your explosive kiddos with Moses and Nicholas, they’ll learn by example – and quick. Your children will learn that it’s with God’s strength – not fists – that they conquer difficult battles.
They will learn to think and pray for wisdom before they act.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and St. John Paul the Great: trail guides for impulsive, highly physical kids
Whether you’re raising a sensory seeker, a kinesthetic learner, or an impulsive “Look at me, mom!” kid, your busy kiddo requires lots of physical movement to channel that energy to the right place.
Who better to hang out with your children than Blessed Pier Giorgio and John Paul the Great? Consummate outdoorsmen, these two gentlemen would lead happy excursions to Jesus while on safari, snowshoeing Alaska, or hiking in the Alps.
(Oh, you need round trip tickets to Austria for four? Please! Take the credit card! Wear them out!)
St. Hildegard of Bingen: companion to the creative, inquisitive, quirky child
Maybe she’s got scores of rare succulents holding conference in her room. Or, maybe he’s illuminated the margins of his favorite books series (and also, used Sharpie on his closet and walls). A creative, quirky, and inquisitive person in her own right, St. Hildegard’s an excellent choice for your curious genius’ heart. They can illustrate, compose, and create till the sun comes up (or until bedtime, generally whichever comes first).
Now I know what you’re thinking: it’s not physically possible to enlist a saint’s help with the kids when you’re away.
And yes, technically you’re still stuck with the problem I mentioned at the beginning of this article: finding a sitter for exceptional kids is HARD.
But try to think of it this way – you’ve still got heavenly help. And if you can pick one, or two, or a whole boatload of saints to act as spiritual babysitters? Definitely a bonus.
Here’s to finding great mentors for our exceptional kids.
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