I’ve always felt fortunate to have so much help with my kids from my family members. Until recently, I had only hired a babysitter for one occasion in my five years as a mom. My kids’ grandparents have been on-call babysitters for my part-time work, the occasional date night, and doctor appointments. But when my work-from-home job as a freelancer became a full-time responsibility, I was faced with the task of finding a sitter who I knew I could trust to take really good care of my kids several hours a week. It made me anxious, to be perfectly honest. The idea of asking someone I had only just met to spend hours alone with my children felt risky, but it had to be done. I couldn’t keep trying to balance my work-at-home job and caring for my kids full-time. It took several weeks, but I eventually found a wonderful young woman who is the perfect fit for our family. My big kids talk about her between her visits and my littlest giggles when she walks in the door. I know that, because my kids love her, we’ve found a great sitter we can trust. Finding her wasn’t easy, though, and I learned a lot through the process. I originally thought I would have a large number of people to choose from, but it turned out that very few people were looking for babysitting work. When I did find a few applications I was interested in, I had so many questions to ask and research to do so I could make sure they were as qualified as they said they were. Needless to say, finding a caregiver you can rely on is a lot of work. If you’re looking for a dependable person to care for your kids, keep reading to find the tips you need to find a babysitter you can trust.
Create a job description.
Caring for children is important work and it’s okay (and even expected!) that you should take the process of hiring as seriously as you would if you were hiring for a position in your own workplace. One of the best ways to avoid the letdown of unmet expectations is making sure you understand exactly what you need from a babysitter. Before you so much as call your first candidate, take some time to put pen to paper and outline what your family needs from a babysitter. Will they simply be hanging out at home, feeding your kids and putting them to bed? Or will they need to perform extra tasks like driving kids to school, sports practices or rehearsals? Will they be responsible for light housework or taking care of pets? These are all important details to clarify from the start and creating a formal job description is the simplest way to do just that.
Do an intensive job interview.
Hiring a babysitter is often treated with a fair amount of informality. For many parents, a quick visit over the phone is all that takes place in lieu of an interview. But if you truly want to be certain you are hiring the right candidate for the job, you’ll need to devote a little more time to the hiring process. Plan to meet a few potential babysitters in person before they meet your children. Begin your interview with the most obvious questions: What kind of experience do they have? Are they CPR certified? What days and time are they available to work? Once you have covered the basics, move on to questions specific to your kids’ needs. You may even use your interview as a time to pose a few hypothetical situations, asking them how they would respond. How will they intervene when sibling conflicts arise? Will they feel comfortable staying late if you regularly have to stay over at work? You want a babysitter who is prepared to handle the real life situations that arise in the life of your family, so don’t be afraid to be honest about what they may experience as your family babysitter.
Do your due diligence.
In any job, a person’s past performance is one of the best indicators of how they will perform in the future. Any babysitter you are considering hiring for the job should be required to submit references for past work. After an interview, follow up by calling the references provided to find out how satisfied they were with the applicant’s performance. There is a lot of helpful information you may be able to find out from the names your possible babysitter provides. Consider asking questions about their timeliness and dependability to show up at an agreed upon times. If possible, find out why they are no longer employed by the family. If any red flags arise, don’t ignore them! If you’re not certain the feedback provided by their references is a deal-breaker, you can always follow up with your applicant to ask questions about what the reference had to say about their performance.
Let your kids weigh in before you make a hire.
It’s a good idea to have any babysitter you are seriously considering hiring over for a visit with the family before you leave them alone with your little ones. Invite them over for coffee or a meal and let them interact with your children while you’re nearby. Do your best not to intervene unless necessary; your job here is to be a silent observer of their interactions with your kids. Do they seem comfortable around your children? How do your children respond to their presence? After they leave, give your kids the opportunity to weigh in before you make a hire. Most kids are fairly accepting, so if they do raise a concern, it’s worth looking into before you make a decision. This initial visit is also a great time to show them around your house and talk about your kids’ routines. This will help anyone you decide to hire feel more comfortable on their first day working with your family.
Pay them what they are worth.
Finding someone who you can trust to care for your children as their own isn’t easy. In most cases, it takes a lot of searching and extensive interviews to find the perfect fit. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that what you are willing to pay is directly related to the care your children will receive. If you aren’t willing to pay the person you hire a fair wage, how can you expect them to treat watching your children like a “real job”? Take them as seriously as you would like them to take their responsibilities. The going rate for a babysitter varies greatly based on where you are located and how many children you have, but you can expect to pay at least $11 an hour for exceptional care for your kids. If you’re still having trouble deciding on pay, you can use a calculator that adjusts for your family size and location.
Set them up for success.
Once you found someone you feel is a great fit for your family, it’s a good idea to take some time to set them up for a successful on-boarding. Ask them to arrive early so you can spend time talking through the most important information they need to know. Create an outline of your kids’ routines and plan to go over dietary restrictions and family rules. If you have specific expectations for your sitter, spell them out in great detail to avoid awkward conversations or conflict in the visitor. This is the right time to make sure they know your policy on posting your kids’ pictures to social media, leaving the house with your kids, or how you feel about them using their phone while your kids are awake. It may feel nitpicky to you, but a good sitter will be glad to have the information. A good babysitter is like family. By taking the hiring process seriously, doing your research, and helping them make a seamless transition into the role of your family’s go-to caregiver, you just may find someone who you can rely on for years to come.