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Where to Find a Babysitter
1. Ask Your Friends for Referrals
Word-of-mouth referrals are often best. Even if they tell you who not to go with can be a huge time saver. This is the easiest method to find a babysitter because your friends can vouch for the sitter.
However, don’t be surprised if this sitter sometimes can’t work for you; word-of-mouth referrals can result in a busy sitter as they may be working for your friend or someone else that night. The best thing to do is try to plan in advance. In college, it wasn’t unusual for me to have two or three families call me to see if I could watch their kids on Saturday night.
2. Advertise in a College Paper or on a Website
Many students are looking for flexible, part-time jobs, so a college paper that will get your ad in front of the eyes of thousands of college students is a good place to start. Another option is to advertise your job at the college employment office for students.
Honestly, when I was in college this is where I found mine right after moving a thousand miles away, and still to this day I stay in touch and love seeing how much the children have grown.
3. Search at a Local Nonprofit Agency
Larger cities and suburbs may have local, nonprofit agencies that will help you find a sitter. They often can give you information both about individual sitters and people who offer daycare out of their home. Other options include your local library bulletin board.
4. Try an Online Service
With the rise in technology, there are sites that look to match up sitters with families. One site I have found to be particularly useful is Sittercity.com. This site offers a free 10-day trial membership – simply put up your ad and wait for candidates to apply. Additionally, there is the option to run a background check on your sitter. Another site you can try out is Care.com.
Even if you don’t find the sitter through an online service, running a background check on your candidate may be something you will want to pursue, especially if you did not find theirs through a friend’s recommendation.
Steps to Take Once You Find a Prospective Sitter
1. Have a Brief Phone Interview
Talk briefly with the sitter over the phone to decide if they sound like a good fit for your family. In particular, ask the ages of the children that they normally watch. If they have spent most of their time caring for children after school, they may not be the best fit for your infant. Also, find out if they are trained in CPR and First Aid.
2. Meet With Them in Person
If the phone interview goes well, take the time to interview them at your home. In addition to asking them to share about there babysitting experience and what they typically do when babysitting, ask them hypothetical questions about what they would do in certain high-pressure situations such as:
- What would you do if the baby was crying in their crib, but the two-year-old had just spilled milk all over the floor and was also crying? Who would you attend to first and why?
- If one child is in the living room playing and
Another important issue to address is discipline. Hopefully, the sitter will not need to discipline your children, but if they do, it’s important that the sitter disciplines in the manner you prefer.
3. Let them Spend Time With the Kids in Your Presence
If you are satisfied with the interview, have them spend about 30 to 60 minutes interacting with your children. At first, you can join them to help the transition, but after about 20 minutes, go somewhere nearby so the sitter can interact with the kids independently, while you continue to check in on their interactions.
Many mothers who interviewed me did this; they might go to the kitchen to wash dishes or fold some wash, but they would still watch our interaction to make sure the kids and I were hitting it off.
Some may ask if I was paid for this and that is no. It is part of the interview process.
4. Ask for References
If possible, get at least two references who have used the candidate before as a babysitter. Ask them about their experience and whether they would recommend them. Inquire about their best attributes, as well as their downfalls. Try to ask as many questions as possible to get a good feel for the sitter’s characteristics and personality.
If they are new to babysitting, recommendations can be friend’s parents who have little ones that they have interacted with.
5. Ask for CPR and First Aid Paperwork
If CPR training and First Aid is important to you, ask the sitter to bring the certification with them when they come for the first babysitting session. That way, you can make sure their training is up-to-date.
The First Babysitting Session
When the sitter comes for the first babysitting session, you may want to be available in a limited capacity. For instance, maybe you can do some work in your nearby office until everyone is acclimated to the new situation for about 20 to 30 minutes.
When you are ready to leave the sitter alone with your kids, make sure to leave phone numbers and a neighbor as an emergency contact if anything should happen.
After the first babysitting session, ask your children how they enjoyed the babysitter and what types of activities they did with them. If your children are too young to explain to you in person, watch how they react when you come home. Are they engrossed with what they are doing with the babysitter, or are they anxious to see you?
When the sitter comes for the next session, see if the kids are happy to see them. If they do not want to stay with the sitter and don’t seem to enjoy their company, you may want to consider a different sitter.
Tips to Keep a Good Babysitter
1. Ask Your Friends How Much They Pay for a Babysitter
Babysitting is a lucrative business, with sitters earning between $10 and $20 an hour in the area I live (near a large city), depending on experience and the number of children they must watch at a time. While you don’t want to feel that you are overpaying, you do want to feel that you are compensating your sitter well for caring for your children.
Skimping on what you pay your babysitter is not good business, as they may feel resentful over time. From my own experience, those who paid the best and had kids I most liked to babysit would always get preference.
2. Compensate Extra During the Holidays
If the babysitter comes to be someone you rely on heavily, make sure to give them a holiday bonus. How much to give them will depend on their capacity within your family. If the sitter is working with you every week, you may want to give them as much as a week’s salary as a bonus. If the sitter babysits for you a couple of times a month, a $20 gift card would be nice.
3. Try Not to Add Extra Jobs
While it is tempting to ask them to also sweep up the kitchen and do dishes while they are watching your children, doing so is generally not a good idea. You want them to give your kids their full attention – don’t add on distractions, such as household chores.
4. Set Boundaries From the Beginning
While most sitters are professional, there are always a few who aren’t. Set the ground rules early. If you don’t want the sitter to have friends over when they are watching your kids, specifically state that. If you don’t want the sitter texting or talking on the phone until the kids are in bed, let them know.
In addition, give the babysitter clear rules that you would like them to enforce with your kids. If you have a limited, set amount of time you allow the kids to watch TV and don’t allow them to watch certain shows, be sure they enforce this in your absence. Also, share with them what foods are off-limits, including allergies, and which healthy snacks you prefer they eat.
For the best experience for you, the children, and the babysitter, make sure everyone involved is clear on the guidelines to avoid setting an atmosphere where the kids try to get away with as much as possible because the babysitter doesn’t know “house rules.” This will create a positive experience for all involved.
5. Consider Finding a Backup Sitter
A good sitter is often an in-demand sitter. If you don’t want to have to cancel dinner plans on Saturday night because your sitter is already booked, consider having a backup sitter or two who you can turn to when your primary sitter is unavailable.
Choosing someone who will care for and protect your children, as well as get along well with them, is no easy task. However, there are plenty of resources available to help you find the right sitter. Take the time to interview them and watch them play with your children. If you follow all the correct strategies, you will have a sitter or two who can watch your kids and give you a break throughout the week.
What tips do you have for finding a great babysitter?
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