Choosing the Right Babysitter
Choosing a babysitter is an important and sometimes difficult decision. When you have someone watch your children, you are placing a lot of trust and responsibility in them-and you need to be sure that they are the right person for the job. If you are hiring a babysitter to watch the kids while you go out, you won’t have much fun if you are worried about what is going on at home! Here are some tips for choosing the right babysitter for your family:
The best way to find a reliable babysitter is by asking people you know. Ask your friends and neighbors for suggestions. Talk to other parents about babysitters they have hired. You can even ask teachers if there are students they would recommend for babysitting. If you do not get any good suggestions from these sources, check the phone book or the internet for babysitting agencies.
People of different ages can make good babysitters. You may have a neighbor who is older who would enjoy babysitting your children. High school students are generally responsible enough to babysit, and are looking for ways to earn some money. There is no perfect age, but there are some things to consider. The babysitter should be in good health and be energetic enough to keep up with your kids, especially if they are toddlers. Your sitter should be willing to work and care for your children, not just view it as time to spend on the phone with friends. Regardless of age, look for someone who is mature enough to make good decisions, yet able to have fun and play with your kids.
Ask for references, and check them for each sitter you are considering. Find out what other parents have to say about their babysitting skills. Ask specific questions about what was expected of them, how they handled problems, whether the kids liked them, and if the parents would hire them again. If you are considering someone who has not done any babysitting before, ask for character references. For someone with no experience, you can also do a trial babysitting period. Have the person come to your home and play with your kids while you are there. You can discreetly observe the interaction, but you will be able to jump in if a problem arises that the sitter is not handling well.
After checking references, interview the babysitting candidates. Ask them about their previous experience, behavior expectations, and discipline. Talk about the house rules so the sitter knows what you expect of your kids and will hold them to that. Go over scenarios to see how the babysitter would handle certain situations. Find out if the sitter can administer basic first aid and knows when to call 911. It is a good idea to have a sitter who has had a course in CPR and choking, as well. You also need to ask if they are willing and able to prepare snacks and meals, give baths, change diapers, and help kids with toileting. Many communities offer babysitting classes that help a teen prepare to be a babysitter. While attending a course is no guarantee that your new sitter will be a good match, it does help, and show that the prospective sitter is interested in children.
Another option for babysitting is to trade time with other parents. Take turns caring for each other’s children instead of paying a sitter. These arrangements can be as formal or informal as you like, but try to maintain equity so that you are not receiving more babysitting from the other parents than you are providing for them.
Take time to choose the right babysitter for your family. Having a reliable person caring for your children will allow you to enjoy your time away without worry.