Choosing an amazing babysitter is no easy task. In fact, it can be very challenging to find the right one especially if you don’t know what to look for in the first place. I am going to give you 20 of the best tips I can think of when it comes to choosing the right one.
Choosing a Babysitter
The very first thing you should do when choosing the right babysitter is to find potential candidates. You should start with people you know. Why? Because let’s be real, you can’t trust anyone with your children. There are so many people out here hurting these babies that it just isn’t safe. And let’s face it, it’s hard to trust people you do know because a lot of times the perpetrator is someone we know. However, if you do your research and pay attention to your feelings you can find an amazing babysitter that you can trust to care for your children in the right way.
Asking friends and neighbors for recommendations is one way to find candidates. Another way is to check with local high schools, colleges, nursing schools, and senior citizen centers and daycare centers especially if your child already attends daycare. Having someone who is already familiar with your child is a plus.
Before the interviewing process:
1. Specify qualifications from the beginning
When searching for babysitter candidates it is important that you make the qualifications of this position known. One of the things you should definitely specify is the age limit. Most people wouldn’t want someone under the age of 13 babysitting for them. Others may be perfectly okay with an 11 or 12-year-old watching the kids. If you have a baby you may want an older teen to babysit because they are more coordinated and are likely more capable of knowing what to do in an emergency situation. If you have more than one child you may want an older teen as well or at least someone who is 13-years-old.
Always setup to meet with the job candidates in a public area for safety purposes.
2. Create interview questions
You know what you want and are looking for in a babysitter. Develop your interview questions around these needs and wants. The questions should be ones that will provide you with answers that will play a role in helping you make your decision. If you need a babysitter who can also clean the children’s play area and cook dinner be sure to mention that. Whatever it may be that you require, make sure you clearly state this.
3. Check their experience and background
Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director of the Safe Kids Campaign says, “It’s not enough that the babysitter seems responsible and likes kids. It’s also important for her to know how to keep kids from getting hurt and what to do in an emergency.” Always ask if they have CPR, first aid, and Heimlich Maneuver training because this can be the very thing that saves your child’s life in an emergency situation.
Knowing what kind of background this person has is another important matter. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who has a history of child abuse or has been accused of neglect. In fact, you probably wouldn’t want any dealings with someone who has a history of abuse period or even a history of drug abuse because this can lead to certain types of behavior.
There are a lot of dishonest people out here living double lives. Potential babysitters may tell you certain things about their lives that may be untrue or exaggerated. Nowadays, a lot of people who frequently use social media tend to get too personal and “spill the beans” on themselves so to speak. Too often, people have been denied jobs because their future employers checked their social media and didn’t like what they saw. Your child is your most precious possession and you want to make sure you are leaving them in good hands. Check their social media pages, you may be surprised by what you learn.
5. Reach out to references
Ask for references during the application process and follow up on those references. You will be shocked by how much time references can save you in this process. There is nothing better than hearing a testimonial from someone who has actually used their services in the past. Whether the references have good things or bad things to say about the candidate you will be glad you reached out to them.
During the interviewing process:
6. Ask meaningful questions
We kind of touched on this earlier but it is important to ask meaningful questions. Asking questions that don’t really give you answers that will help you make your decision is a complete waste of time. You should be asking questions that will help you get to the heart of the matter and make an informed decision. Ask about availability, rates, past dealings with children, and their experience in dealing with emergency situations. If you find that they have a hard time answering any of the above questions, which are really simple, you may want to consider crossing them off your list or moving on to the next candidate.
7. Be Observant
Look for any behavior that may give you information as to the kind of person they would be. Carefully, listen to what they are saying and always try to read between the lines. You never know how much information you can derive from an interview just by paying closer attention.
After the interviewing process:
8. Process of Elimination
Take good notes during the interview or record so that you can go through those notes later and listen to the recording. From here you will begin what is known as the process of elimination. Based on the things you liked or disliked about the job candidates you can choose which ones you will move forward with and which ones to scratch off your list. Don’t be afraid to eliminate, this will help your process to flow a lot better.
9. Trial Run
It is now time to call your final choices in for a trial run. It is important that not only you like and feel comfortable with the chosen babysitter but it is also very important that the children like them. If a child doesn’t like someone you are going to hear about it, trust me. It wouldn’t be fair to the child to leave them with someone they don’t care for. Before leaving your children in their care it is important to see how they interact with the children and the children with them.
During the trial run:
10. Signs & Red Flags
This step brings us back to being observant, this time you’ll be looking for signs of inadequacy, red flags, or signs of an amazing babysitter. You don’t want to simply look for things they may be doing wrong or not as well but you also want to look at areas that they excel in such as getting the baby to stop crying by soothing them.
11. Keep Your Distance
“Keep my distance, are you crazy?” I know that’s probably what you are thinking right now and that’s a good question because only a crazy person would leave there child alone with a stranger, right? Let me explain what I mean about keeping your distance. Invite one candidate at a time over to spend maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour with the child(ren). It doesn’t have to be a very long amount of time. Allow them to interact by playing with toys or helping them with homework.
Rather than hover over them the entire time you could step into the next room or sit across on the other side of the room. Just make sure you are close enough and can keep your eyes on what they are doing at all times. However, know that if you don’t give them a little space they may not let the real them out. Think about when you were a little kid, you may have acted totally different when you were around your parents than you did when you were at school around your classmates.
It is no different with adults. Sometimes adults act the way they know they are supposed to act when someone is watching but when they feel like they are not being watched they act in a completely different way. Basically what I’m saying is give them room to show their true colors. You don’t want to leave them with your child and then learn of the kind of person they truly are.
12. Look for Qualities
You know the type of qualities that you would want a babysitter to have so look for them during the trial run. If you see someone interacting with your child and maybe they don’t come across as truly being interested in the child or aren’t enjoying their company then this may not be the right one for your family. Some qualities that every babysitter should possess are kindness, honesty, respect, consistency, and understanding.
13. Take Notes
Notes are so important. If you’re anything like me, you forget things, a lot. To help you remember the things you observed about each candidate, what you liked the most and what you disliked notes are beneficial.
After the trial run:
14. Get Children’s Input
Don’t forget to get the child(ren) input on what they liked and disliked about the potential babysitter. Listen to what they have to say and try to understand what they are really saying. This is especially true of younger kids who may not have a large vocabulary or kids who have trouble using the right words. Ask questions if you need to and explain to them what you are needing from them. Yes, they are kids but they definitely should be included in this decision. After all, they are the ones who will be left with this person. Did your parents ever leave you with a babysitter you weren’t too thrilled with? How did that make you feel? If your parents didn’t do that then why would it be fair to do it to your own child? It’s not.
15. Choose a backup or replacement
There will be times when your babysitter won’t be available because things do happen. You should always be prepared for times like this by having a backup babysitter. Another issue you could run into is the babysitter quits or for some reason, you have to fire them. Having a replacement babysitter on standby is important for this very reason.
16. Trust Your Instincts
Everyone has gut feelings, especially parents. Despite all the good things you may have seen and observed, if there seems to be something off or not right about a potential candidate, don’t hire them. Plain and simple. Do not take the chance of leaving your child with someone you never had good feelings about from the start. If you feel like choosing this person would be a bad idea or a huge mistake, chances are you’re right. Don’t take risks with your child’s life, they are way more valuable than that.
17. Early Arrival
Ask the new babysitter to arrive early so you can discuss emergency situations and house rules before your departure.
18. Contact Information
Always be sure to leave them with a number where they can reach you. If you are going somewhere where you will not be able to be reached then leave the information for emergency contact.
19. Frequently Call Home
When you are going to be gone for more than an hour you should call home regularly to make sure everything is going smoothly. Don’t just take the babysitter’s words for it, it’s okay to speak with the children directly, too.
Before the babysitter leaves for the night it is important to debrief and ask them what they felt went well and what they think needs improving.
Remember that everyone’s situation is different. You should choose a babysitter that is right for you and your family. Just because your sister hired a babysitter for her children and recommended her to you doesn’t mean she’s going to be the right one for your children. Always consider your children’s feelings in this matter but know that you, the parent, have the final say. If you follow these 20 tips you will find an amazing babysitter in no time!