The thought of leaving your baby for the first time with a babysitter can be scary but you may also be ready for that break in your day or a date night with your husband, regardless, it’s time to find the perfect babysitter!
It is important to find the right person who will engage your child, have fun, keep them safe and follow your rules. Just like an employer searches and interviews candidates for the job, you should too. Follow these steps to find the right match for your family:
– Ask your friends if they’d be willing to recommend a babysitter (or mind if you use theirs)
– Post a straightforward and detailed ad at a local college (I‘ve also used care.com and sittercity.com where sitters are vetted and you can conduct background checks and see referrals from other families. I would not recommend craigslist because it is not a vetted site and who knows the array of responses you might need to weed through.)
– Make a list of your top needs for potential babysitters to see, for example:
- Must have experience with multiple children (we have three kids so this is a MUST)
- Active babysitter who likes to have fun – baking, crafts, playing outside, etc.
- Have CPR and First Aid Training
- Excellent driving record
- Days/Hours– what are your needs? Once a week on Fridays or 2-3 random nights a month? I need someone for 2-3 hours 2-3 times a month so it’s nothing regular.
- Comfortable to cook or heat up meals
- Hourly Rate – set your expectations early
- Must Provide References
Every potential babysitter should email you their resume and references as well as an intro so you get a feel for them. Sort through everything and make a short list of those you want to reach out to first based on how they fit your needs and their response to you.
– Call each babysitter and set up a time for them to come over when all the kids will be at the house (preferably when all the kids are awake and can meet her.)
– Watch how they interact with your children and your animals
– Ask questions! Here are some sample questions you can ask:
- What do you like to do with kids you’re babysitting?
- How do you handle three kids at once who all need your attention?
- How do you handle disagreements?
- What are some sample meals you like to make?
- Have you ever driven children around before? What is your driving history (ask them to provide Drivers License to check!)
- How current is your CPR/First Aid Training?
- What would you do in an emergency?
- What are your rates? (Is there a difference if they’re all asleep?)
– Call References – you have to, HAVE TO, call references. Ask them questions:
- When and how long did she babysit for you?
- How many kids do you have?
- Did you feel comfortable with her taking care of your kids? Driving your kids?
- Do you still use her/him? If not, why not?
- Anything to look out for or that you didn’t like?
– Trust your gut – This is one of the most important. How did you feel about them when they were interacting with your kids? With You? Your animals? Listen to you gut.
– Set up some dates!
I will share that my last babysitter interviewing experience was ROUGH. Rough because the first two out of three potential sitters that came over had to see meltdowns, my kids hitting each other, a timeout, whining and even a serious injury. I was totally embarrassed BUT what I got from it was invaluable. The first potential sitter handled it like a pro and helped out with distracting my kids and even holding my daughter while I took my son upstairs for a break. The second potential sitter tried to keep it together but it was very obvious that all the chaos overwhelmed her and she wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. In the case of an emergency or all three of my kids melting down, the second babysitter just wouldn’t cut it.
Due your due diligence when it comes to who is going to take care of your kids while you’re not there. You want to feel comfortable and not worry about what’s going on at your house while you’re not there.
Test Drive:If you want to ease into choosing a sitter, have her come over to your house to watch the kids for an hour or two and play with them while you get some things done at your house or work. You can observe and listen in on how she’s talking and interacting with your kids and you’ll really have a better feeling for her fit with your family afterwards.