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How to Find a Great Babysitter!

How to Find a Great Babysitter!

Nothing gives you more peace of mind than a reliable babysitter.

By FamilyTime

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Even though you may wish you never had to leave your little ones at home, there are times when you must hire a babysitter.

You may be lucky enough to have a relative nearby or neighbor who will "round-robin" babysit with your kids and hers. If not, you'll have to venture outside your immediate circle to find someone to watch the kids.

The Search
The most obvious way to begin the search is to ask friends, family members, fellow parents from daycare or playgroups, and neighbors. Many moms resist divulging the name of their prize sitter, but that sitter may have siblings or friends.

Although it's common to hire teens, sitters may be mature women who enjoy children and need the extra income.

Ask friends and acquaintances at church or synagogue. Contact the local high school; the guidance office usually has a job bank. Ditto for a local college.

You could also post ads at the local recreation center, youth club, or YMCA. For security, list only your telephone number, not your name.

Most metropolitan areas have good websites that match parents with sitters. Browse the web to find one that serves your community.

Agencies can be helpful, but before you commit, ask hard questions about their screening procedures. Make sure the agency's clients are completely vetted. Also make sure you understand the fee structure.

The Interview
When you find a prospective sitter, check at least three personal references. These should include other clients, employers, teachers, or responsible adults. The references should not be family members.

Sit down with the sitter and ask about her or his experience. It's advisable to ascertain if the prospect has infant CPR or first-aid training. Ask the sitter how she would react in an emergency, coming up with one or two hypothetical situations (bleeding wound, high fever).

Watch how the sitter interacts with your children during the interview. She should seem relaxed and genuinely interested in the kids.

Most experts advise interviewing at least three sitters before choosing one. Go with your gut if all meet your requirements.

When you hire a sitter, make sure you know his or her full name, address, and phone numbers.

The Job
Be very clear about fees, hours, and expectations with the sitter. Walk him or her through the house, point out exits, fire extinguishers, telephones, fuse boxes, and danger areas (steep cellar stairs, a backyard pool).

Go over the house rules with the sitter. If the kids are old enough, do this in front of them so that everyone is clear about television viewing, snacks, baths, and bedtimes.

Make sure the sitter knows where the emergency phone numbers are. These should include:

  • another adult your children know and trust who can be called if you can't be reached.
  • pediatrician
  • poison control
  • police and fire
  • taxi company if the sitter does not drive.

    Write down your address so that the sitter can reference it.

    The Follow-Up
    When you get home, ask how the evening went and note how responsive the sitter is. Make sure the sitter gets home safely - particularly if you hired a teenager.

    Ask your children how they liked the sitter, what they did together, and if they would like him or her to sit for them again.

    It's never a bad idea to call the sitter the next day to say thank you if you sense he or she did an outstanding job.

    By the same token, a tip on top of the agreed-upon fee is always appreciated, especially if the night was late or the hours long.

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