First of all, clarification is needed on what exactly a babysitter is. A babysitter is someone a parent hires on an evening or during the day for a few hours to watch their children. The babysitter that is referred to in this article is not a child care provider. A child care provider is someone who does child care in their home M-F or sometimes 7 days a week. A child care provider can also work in a child care center caring for children. A child care provider is a professional who maintains training hours and makes a living caring for children. I can also help with that topic, but for the purpose of this article we are going to talk about hiring a babysitter.
The first step in hiring a baby sitter is finding one. In many cases, you can talk to other parents and get a word of mouth referral. The only downfall to this method is that sometimes you and the other parents might be out together and then you have to decide who gets to hire the babysitter. When a parent calls our office we always recommend looking at the colleges in our area. Sometimes there is a student building with a bulletin board and you can advertise there or directly contact the specific colleges that might be related to children. This might include education, early childhood, sociology, psychology as well as others. Parents could also advertise in the paper or look in the paper for babysitters. Remember, a babysitter doesn’t have to be a young person, it could be someone who is any age and enjoys being with children (a retired teacher or family member).
Once you have found a babysitter or two, it is best to interview them to make sure they are someone you would feel comfortable leaving your children with. You may also want to check and see if they have CPR/First aid training. Have your children present at the interview to see how he or she treats your children. This includes how they talk to them and how they interact with them (are they smiley, are they grumpy and rough). All of these things will give you some indication of how they will be when they are alone with your children. Trust your gut too, if it doesn’t feel right when you are there with them, you will never have a good time when you are away from your children and they are in the baby sitter’s care.
When you find a babysitter you are comfortable with you may want to contact a few references. Ideally these would be other families they have babysat for. If they are a new babysitter, you might want to speak with their parents or a teacher to decide on how responsible they are.
At some point you will want to talk about how much you are going to pay the babysitter. If you find someone who babysits other families, they might already have a set rate that they charge and in that case you would just make sure the rate was reasonable for you. If this is a new babysitter you will want to take into consideration their experience and how many children you have before deciding on what to pay them.
When the time has come for the babysitter to actually babysit there are some things to keep in mind. As a parent you will want to give them a tour of the house and a list of household rules, as some children like to exaggerate the rules when someone new is at the house. You will also want to have a list of emergency numbers and where you will be for the time that you are gone. If it is your first time leaving the children you may want to call and check in, but that all depends on your level of comfort with the babysitter. It is best to make it clear that they can call you at any time if they need you.
When you return and the babysitting is over, it is best to talk to your children about how it went. You will be able to tell if they had fun and if the babysitter is someone you would want to hire again.
Child Care Resource & Referral
Child Care Consultant/Supervisor