I talk about a lot of things I love on this site: my chickens, gardening, yummy recipes, bartering, Lucy the Puggle Dog. But at the end of the day, nothing even comes close to the love I have for my kids. Being a mother is hands down my thing on the planet. Sure when they were little they made me want to rip out my hair from time to time, but they are really my greatest joys. I suspect you feel the same way, so leaving them in the care of others takes a bit of a leap of faith. Here are some tips to help you find the perfect sitter for your family (cause let’s be honest, sometimes that time away from them keeps you sane!):
1. Get referrals: Ask people you trust to refer people they trust. It’s a great place to start. Gather a list of names and numbers of qualified referrals your friends, neighbors and family members have used in the past.
2. Check references: If you are unable to get referrals from people you know, make sure you gather and touch base with references from your potential babysitter. Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions because this will be your only opportunity to get a glimpse of their previous babysitting habits.
3. Interview them: Conduct a phone interview with them to get to know them a little better. Do they have previous experience? Have they ever cared for infants? What is their hourly rate? Before you leave them alone with your kids, have them over for a short interview so you can meet them in person. It’s not only important to gain information from them (ie. are they CPR and 1st Aid certified? Have they taken any babysitting courses?), but to see how they interact with your children.
4. Trust your gut: If something feels off, pass. Even if everything about the potential sitter looks good on paper, if your “parent sense” is off, listen to it.
5. Agree on pay: Before you ever hire them, make sure you’re on the same when it comes to money. Ask what they charge. If they suggest that whatever you pay is fine, try to get them to tell you what they’ve been paid in the past, so you know what their potential expectations are. If you are clueless as to what to pay, pose the question to your friends on Facebook or to your neighbors and get feedback that way.
6. Check in on them: Once you’ve hired them, make sure you call to check in. Ask to speak to your children (if they are old enough) and see how things are going from their perspective. You can also ask a neighbor to peek in if you’re still nervous and they’re able. If you have one available, a nanny cam might come in handy as well.
7. Follow up: Make sure you ask the sitter how they felt the experience went. Did your children behave for them? Did they enjoy it? Then ask your kids how they liked the sitter. Only then will you know if it’s truly a good fit.
Any other tips or advice when looking for a new babysitter? What do you think a fair rate is for a sitter in your area is? Have you ever had a terrible experience with a new sitter?
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