Finding a dependable babysitter can be challenging, whether you require full-time daycare while working or just want an occasional night away without the kids. You will almost certainly feel anxious the first time you leave your child with someone new, but following a few simple recommendations can make the experience much less traumatic.
Choosing a Babysitter: What to Know Before You Hire One
We know how difficult it is to entrust your precious bub to someone else other than yourself, like a family member, let alone a babysitter who you just met. However, this transition can be less stressful if you make sure that you’ve hired the best person for the job.
Here are some reminders to take note of when looking for a babysitter for your child.
1. Consider what you require
Your criteria will differ depending on whether you want a babysitter for one or two weekends per month or every weekday after school till you get home from work. When you know what you need, it will be easy to know where to look.
2. Inquire around
The best way to choose a babysitter is by word of mouth. If you have a friend who adores their nanny and only wants a sitter on occasion, they could be an ideal match. Ask your friends to recommend people they have trusted with taking care of their children. Also, try looking for nannies on nanny agencies or other classified listings.
You can also inquire at your child’s preschool or enrichment program. Some of the caretakers may be looking for supplementary jobs. Home daycare centres and teenage babysitters may offer more time-flexible childcare options, but they are more likely to change as individuals move or change jobs.
3. Set up an interview
Set up an interview once you have some leads. Be sure to conduct an interview in person. Ask specific questions and state your requirements (such as house rules and working hours) upfront.
You should inquire about their babysitting experience as well as any training they may have, such as first aid and CPR. If you meet someone you like who hasn’t taken the training, you can offer to pay for it.
Consider whether you want more experience or more energy. You could prefer a grandmotherly figure with a lot of expertise to look after your newborn. Alternatively, your active children may require someone with a lot of energy to accompany them to the park.
Make the sitter come to your place for the interview if possible. You’ll be able to observe their interactions with your children. Are they kind and approachable to youngsters, or do they appear aloof and distracted?
Other questions to consider include:
- What kind of emergency training do you have?
- What will you do if the baby starts crying while I’m gone?
- What will you do if the doorbell rings?
Always check and double-check references. Make sure they come from trustworthy sources such as previous employers, teachers and ex-bosses. Don’t hesitate to contact these people if you discover any glaring irregularities or inconsistencies.
4. Play to their advantages
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Each of our children has both skills and weaknesses. Some people have no trouble with math, but spelling is a challenge. Others may aspire to be good swimmers but require more practice. Don’t be hesitant to find a babysitter who can handle both jobs.
Hiring an English major, for example, may help your child get through those spelling lists, but hiring a lifeguard may assist your child master his or her backstroke. To discover the ideal babysitter, inquire about their specific abilities and interests.
5. Make sure they respect your parenting style
In order to guarantee that your prospective babysitter shares your parenting philosophy, ask him or her questions. Here are several examples:
- How do you handle temper outbursts in toddlers?
- How do you enforce discipline?
- How do you approach providing comfort?
- What do you do when youngsters cry?
- What was your most challenging babysitting experience, and how did you deal with it?
The answers to these questions will assist you in determining whether the new babysitter will fit in with your family.
6. Perform a test run
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You may believe you’ve found the ideal candidate, but you won’t know until they’ve been kid-tested and approved. A good babysitter will not object to a trial run.
Choose a day when you can spend an hour with the babysitter and your children, then leave for an hour and allow the children to spend time with him or her. If your children connect in the same manner that you do, you’ve got a winner on your hands.
7. Trust your gut feelings
You might come across an applicant who appears to have all of the necessary experience, education, and certifications. However, if your intuition tells you that person isn’t the one, don’t resist it. You are the only one who understands the ideal match for your family.
Whether you have more than one desirable candidate, ask your second and third choices if they would still like to babysit occasionally. Your initial pick is unlikely to be available at all times.
Hiring a new babysitter to watch your children is, to say the least, a scary proposition. You’ll find someone the whole family will like if you have a list of questions prepared and take a cautious approach.
Trust your gut instinct if the interviewee gives you a negative feeling. If you feel uncomfortable around this person then your child would most likely feel the same way.
8. Make an agreement
Inform the babysitter of your expectations and when you will return. It is also advisable to agree on a cost. If you got the babysitter through an agency, they would probably have a standard rate.
But if you got them through a recommendation or word of mouth, you can ask your friends with nannies how much they pay their babysitters and discuss this with your applicant.
After You Hire a Babysitter
Discuss the house rules and routines before you depart. Before you leave your babysitter alone with your child, make sure you give them crucial information such as:
- your destination
- how to contact you
- your child’s preferences and dislikes
- any drug or allergy warnings
- ground rules (mealtime, bath time, bedtime, what they are and are not allowed to do)
- emergency contact information
Make certain that the babysitter understands kid safety, especially if they will bathe, put your child to sleep, or drive them in a car.
Inform the babysitter of your expectations around homework, gadgets, and outside play. Make that the sitter is aware of the following:
- When to dial 911 before dialling your number
- Where you’ve posted emergency contact information, such as neighbours, your child’s doctor, a close friend or relative, and Poison Control
- The location of fire extinguishers and emergency exits
- The location of the first-aid kit, as well as any medications or allergies your child may have.
- Any keys that they should be aware of
Discuss fundamental home safety precautions, such as how to avoid falls and poisoning. Discuss water and fire safety as well.
Let Your Child Be the Judge
Your child can provide valuable feedback on the new babysitter. Look for these clues to help you determine whether you will retain the babysitter:
1. Your child is well-rested the next day. This means the babysitter carried out your bedtime instructions.
2. The house is as tidy when you return to it. A good babysitter will respect your home. It shows consideration on her part if she does things like washing the dishes she used or picking up toys left out by your child.
3. Your child wants the babysitter to return. If your child talks about the fun they had or seems excited, the chances are you chose the right babysitter.
4. She genuinely likes your child. It’s wonderful when your child and the babysitter get along like old friends. If that happens breathe a sigh of relief and thank your good luck!
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When entrusting an outsider with the care of your children, it is worth the time to choose a babysitter with care. We often read of unfortunate cases such as the babysitter who had four infants die under her care, and believe it is better to be safe than sorry.
Additional safety considerations
Finding a trustworthy and dependable babysitter is not an easy process. While it may be tempting to hire an older sister, cousin, or neighbour to babysit, you should think twice before doing so.
According to a survey of young babysitters aged 11 to 13, 40% had left younger children unattended and 20% had opened the door to strangers while babysitting. If you do hire a teen to babysit, make sure they are properly trained and educated on how to manage crises.
Updates by Matt Doctor