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Hiring a Babysitter

A good babysitter is definitely a valuable commodity.

By
Cherylyn Feierabend,
April 21, 2007
Episode #011

A good babysitter is definitely a valuable commodity. We cherish the time we have with our children, but it is also important for parents to have some kid-free social time in their lives. There will be times when grandmas, aunts, or your relative of choice will not be available to help out. These are the times you will need to hire a babysitter.

Personally, I believe it’s very difficult to find someone with whom to leave my children. Choosing a babysitter can be a very daunting task. There are so many factors to take into consideration. I’m going to provide some tips to help you determine if someone is the right babysitter for you.

The first suggestion I have is to think ahead. You may not need a babysitter today, but you might need one soon. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your search. Start with recommendations from fellow parents...

Keep in mind that if a family does have a good babysitter, they might not want to share. I know this seems greedy, but if you both want to go out on the same night, it could cause some friction. If someone doesn’t want to share her sitter, don’t force the issue. If you have friends or co-workers with grown children, you might check with them to see if their kids are ready to take on the task. This is especially nice if they also have experience taking care of their younger siblings. They would much rather be paid to do what their parents already have them doing for free. There are other places you can look for babysitters such as online services and bulletin boards, but I believe that referrals are truly your best source.

Invite the prospective babysitter to spend some time with your child while you are present. Then step back and observe.

Once you have some leads, you’ll want to begin the interviewing process. Invite the prospective babysitter to spend some time with your child while you are present. You will want to step back and observe the sitter with your child while remaining in view at all times. If at any time you feel uncomfortable with anything, follow your instincts. You will never want to leave your child with someone if you are not completely comfortable. Your ability to trust a person with your child will be your most important deciding factor. If your child is old enough to speak, be sure to ask for their opinion. Even a two-year-old can answer, “Yes,” or “No,” when you ask, “Do you like Mary?”

While you are observing, there are some other things to consider:

  • The sitter should always be in control of the situation.
  • You will want to be sure that the sitter is gentle with your child.
  • She should remain calm and comfortable while interacting with your child.
  • She should be clean and observant of good hygiene.
  • You’ll want to be sure that the sitter listens to you and is able to follow specific instructions you’ve given.
  • Your sitter should be able to provide references. You will definitely want to follow up on these references before hiring your sitter.
  • A babysitter should be trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Keep in mind that for younger children and babies, you will want an older babysitter. A babysitter should be at least 13 years old, but you will need to determine if you want someone older. During the interview process, you should be able to decide if your sitter is mature enough to handle herself in an emergency situation. If you will be hiring a babysitter for an overnight shift, I would recommend that you hire an adult.

If at all possible, it’s good to have more than one babysitter. If for any reason you have an urgent need in the future and your regular sitter is not available, it can be very handy to have a backup.

Once you have made your choice, there are a few more things you’ll want to do to help everything run smoothly. It’s always good to write instructions down for the babysitter. You’ll want to go over the house rules and probably take the babysitter on a tour of the house pointing out where important items such as first aid kits and flashlights are located. Let the sitter know which areas are safe for children and which are off limits. You will want to leave a list of phone numbers including your cell phone and/or the location of your outing. You should also include your house address, phone number, the name and location of the nearest hospital and any emergency numbers. (The babysitter should already know to call 911 in case of emergency, but I recommend you put it on the list anyway.) You will want to list any allergies and medication instructions on the written list as well. Make sure you go over the instructions with the babysitter before you leave. Ask your babysitter to come early so you can go over the instructions and answer any questions.

Finally, you’ll want to talk with your child as soon as possible after your return. Ask your child about the experience with the babysitter. If anything doesn’t seem right, you may need to start your search over, but hopefully your research will have paid off and it will have been a safe and fun time for all.
 

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