Four friends in a bar, smiling and raising their drinks in a toast, with bottles and glasses visible in the background.

For many parents, a carefree night out is rare, or perhaps even a distant memory from before you had children. It's only natural to worry about your children when they're not with you, even if a trusted babysitter is looking after them. The slightest sniffle or a recent run of bad dreams and night terrors can leave you feeling unable to leave the house, just in case your baby needs you. However, it is essential for your sanity that you take a break every once in a while.

Every parent needs some 'me' time, and every couple needs a romantic evening together without regular interruptions to settle sibling disputes, get food stains out of the carpet and do endless loads of child-size laundry. You work hard and are an amazing parent, so you deserve a social life. So, what's the answer?

Finding the right babysitter and how tech can help

The solution to having a worry-free night without the kids is finding a babysitter you can trust. Some lucky parents have a family friend or relative they've known for years and put the utmost faith in. If you dont and you're looking to hire a new nanny, how do you find someone you can trust?

The worst part of searching for a new nanny is those first few hours when you leave your kids alone with someone who is practically a stranger. You can do extensive interviews, seek references and all kinds of other checks, but the best test will always be on the job. It's inevitable you will eventually have to give your prospective new babysitter a chance to do the job and look after your kids. Don't worry; you don't have to leave your children alone with this new person and hope for the best. Technology, such as surveillance cameras or a nanny cam, is on your side.

Is it ethical to spy on my babysitter?

Using a nanny cam can be quite a controversial issue. Some parents swear by them, as they couldn't trust a near stranger with their children without using such a device. They read horror stories about neglect and abuse in the papers and can't sleep at night worrying about the same thing happening to their children. Knowing that a nanny camera records everything that happens when the parent is not home can provide enormous peace of mind. On the other hand, other parents feel that it's unethical to spy on your babysitter without their knowledge. To help you make a decision that leaves your conscience clear but protects your child, here are some things to consider:

Awareness of the law

The last thing you want to do when using surveillance cameras is to break any laws or violate anybody's privacy. This is why it's important to research how you are and aren't allowed to use spy cameras. The good news is that it is perfectly legal to use cameras inside your home and on your property, as long as the footage is for your eyes only and you don't share or upload it online. You have a legitimate security concern for the safety of your children, so this is adequate justification for the use of surveillance cameras. However, it would help if you remembered that your home is effectively his or her workspace while your babysitter is on the clock. Their privacy must be respected, so you mustn't place cameras anywhere where they may have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as the bathroom or a room they use to get changed.

To conceal or not to conceal?

This is the biggest dilemma do you hide the cameras and hope your babysitter won't discover them or tell the truth from the outset? It's completely up to you, but remember that it will likely ruin your relationship if your nanny finds out you've been secretly filming him or her. They may be embarrassed, hurt and feel you don't trust them, and they may even resign. The best course of action may be to be upfront and honest about why you're using cameras, at the interview stage preferably, and make it clear that it's about concern for your children rather than a lack of trust. Some people will be ok with it, and some won't, but at least the situation will be clear from the very start.

Using Spy Cameras for a trial period

If you decide to use cameras and tell your nanny about them from the start, you could make the pill easier to swallow by saying that it's just for a few weeks to see how it all goes. This trial period gives you peace of mind that you've got a nanny you can trust and is a more understandable and reasonable situation for the nanny to put up with. If you go ahead with nanny surveillance cameras, go for good quality products and pay careful attention to their placement.

Motion-activated spy cameras are a good choice for saving battery power and making the footage easier to view, as you won't need to fast forward through the hours of the film where nothing happens. Some Wi-Fi surveillance cameras allow you to view the footage in real-time from a mobile device, wherever you are in the world. So, if you're out for dinner and you cant relax through worrying about the kids, you can take a quick look at your camera footage on your phone and feel much better.

Once you've found your perfect new nanny, you can still use your cameras to watch your kids when you're not in the room. You may even learn some fascinating things about your children and their development through the footage that shows what they get up to when no one is around!