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What to Look for When Hiring a Babysitter

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I used to babysit all the time. Then babysitting moved to nannying for week long family vacations. I had a great tan and lots of money back in those days because a good babysitter is hard to find. Here’s what to look for when you’re hiring a babysitter.

Networking

Just like in business, when you’re looking for a babysitter, it’s a good idea to network. Ask your friends, relatives and neighbors who they would recommend. I was lucky enough to get referrals for jobs from some relatives who recommended me to some of their friends who recommended me for some of their friends. I also put my name on the list for babysitters at church and I did get a few jobs from that list as well, so that’s another good place to check.


Interview

Interview your possible babysitter just like you would when you’re looking to hire someone at work. Ask them questions like “What would you do in a medical emergency or in case of a fire?” “Have you had any experience around special needs children?” “How do you handle allergies?” It also gives you a chance to address any of their questions about you, your rules, your children etc. If you get a name from church, or off of a babysitting networking website, don’t forget to check all of their references. When parents didn’t ask for an interview, I asked for one and came with a list of references. Parents seemed surprised, but relieved I would be mature enough to ask.


Make the Introductions

If you feel comfortable with the young man or woman that’s potentially going to be keeping watch over your children, make the introductions. See if your kids are comfortable with the sitter, and see if the sitter is comfortable with your kids. I had one job about ten years ago for a coworker so he could go out with his wife for their anniversary and boy was his wife surprised when the little one was climbing up my leg before I even had the job for sure.


Go Over the Rules

Once you go ahead and book your sitter, go over the rules. When is bedtime? When is bath time? When is meal time? What are they allowed to watch? What is off limits? How much screen time are they allowed? How is the sitter supposed to handle discipline? What is the sitter supposed to do in case of an emergency? Where is the fire extinguisher? How do you operate the oven? The circuit breaker? The security alarm? What’s off limits? I once got a typed out list from the parents detailing everything and warning me not to be suckered in by their cuteness. That’s also important.


Make a Contact Sheet

When you’re leaving for the evening, make a contact sheet. Put down any phone number you can think of: Mobile, work, grandparents, neighbors, pediatrician, Ask a Nurse Helpline, pharmacy, hospital, poison control, etc.


Most importantly; trust your instincts. If it doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.

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