It is probable that the time may come when you want a babysitter to look after your kids while you spend some quality time with your significant other. Or you may just need a break so that you can go relax on your own. A good first choice may be a relative; grandma or grandpa — or even aunts or uncles — may be willing to help out. However, a relative may not be an option. In that case, you will have to look outside your family, and choosing a babysitter for your kids can be a daunting task. You want someone you can trust, and that means that it is a good idea to take some time to find a competent babysitter that gets along with your kids, and has some experience with children — as well as knowledge of how to handle simple emergencies.
Looking for a babysitter
One of the best ways to get an idea of who would make a good babysitter is to ask friends and family. Get recommendations from people you know. You can also check at your church, community center and local schools. Many community education programs now offer babysitting courses and certifications. These courses often teach babysitters First Aid and CPR, how to handle emergencies and basic care of children. Choosing a babysitter that has been through such courses can help provide you with peace of mind.
Check references from babysitters, and find out how many kids the sitter can handle at one time (and compare that to how many children you have). Also get rates. Babysitting rates vary according to area, the training and certifications the sitter has, as well as how many children you have, the kinds of things you expect of the babysitter and the time of day s/he will be caring for your children. Compare different rates from different sitters. You should also consider recommendations and training; sometimes it is worth it to pay a little more to know that your child is in good hands.
Choosing a babysitter
Interview prospective babysitters. Invite the sitter over to meet your children and interact with them for 20 to 30 minutes. Observe how the sitter plays with your children, and ask questions about what the sitter would do in an emergency situation. If you are looking for a sitter than will be able to drive your children to occasional activities, or pick them up, load everyone up and take a short drive to assess your sitter’s abilities. It is vital that you and your sitter get along, and that the babysitter gets along with your children. You also want to make sure that your sitter is open to your parenting techniques, and can handle your children.
After you have chosen a sitter
When you decide on a sitter, you will need to work out the terms of his or her employment. This is especially important if you expect to have your sitter come regularly. Discuss rates and times that you expect the sitter. Agree upon a regular schedule (if needed). If you do not plan to have regular need of a sitter, it is a good idea to have two or three sitters in mind so that if your preferred sitter is unavailable, you have a fall back plan. You can even ask your sitter for recommendations in such cases. It is a good idea to call a sitter at least two days ahead of time so that s/he has ample warning that services are needed. (And you can call someone else if your first choice is unavailable.)
The first time a sitter comes to care for your children, plan for him or her to arrive early. This will allow you time to go over the house rules with the sitter, and to let your caregiver know how to contact you should the need arise. Having the sitter come early can also be beneficial in that it allows him or her to start playing with your children, occupying them before you leave. This can help you avoid painful departure scenes. It is not a bad idea to call partway through the evening the first time that your sitter watches your children. When you return home, get a debriefing from the sitter about how things went. Make sure that, if there were problems, you talk to your children later about proper behavior while with the sitter.
Here are some basic considerations when choosing a babysitter for your kids:
- Does the sitter show reasonable maturity and a sense of responsibility?
- Does the sitter demonstrate good judgment and common sense?
- Does the sitter have a friendly personality? Does s/he get along with you and your kids?
- Is the sitter organized and neat?
- Does the sitter have some sort of certification or training in CPR/First Aid or some sort of babysitting course?
- Do you trust the sitter with your children?
In the end, you have to take a babysitter on faith to a certain extent. But as s/he proves competent, you will begin to feel safer about leaving your children with him or her.