Tips For Hiring A Babysitter

January 8, 2014

The following is a guest post I wrote for my friend Renee, who has a blog on early childhood from a nanny’s perspective

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If you are anything like me you are completely torn between a luxurious date night with your husband and the peace in your heart that comes from having your baby close by. Deciding to hire a babysitter for the first time can be quite a scary process. But it’s something you have to do at some point – for both you and your little one.

Lucky for us, my mother in law lives nearby, so we were able to leave Mazen in her loving arms for short periods of time when he was a tiny baby. Now that he’s a big boy toddler, we’re a lot more comfortable hiring babysitters to come and play with Mazen while we get a little taste of our adult lives back.

In addition to my own experience, I asked some of my girlfriends to share their tips for hiring a sitter, and this is our list:

-Our best recommendation for finding a babysitter is networking. Family friends, sitters of friends, social groups, neighbors and the like. But if you can’t seem to find anyone someone already knows, check out Care.com. A friend of mine has found a few of her best sitters through the site.

-When you interview your sitter, trust your gut. If anything about her (or him) bothers you, keep looking. Leaving your child is hard enough, so you want to be 100% comfortable with the person you choose. One friend added that doing a simple Google search of their name or checking out social media accounts can speak volumes about a person’s character.

-While I don’t think having a formal CPR training is absolutely necessary, it’s a great skill to look for when you are searching. You could also go over the technique with them before their first job.

-Before your sitter arrives, be sure to put all important information together in an easy-to-find location. We have a list of our phone numbers and emergency contacts posted on the inside of one of our kitchen cabinets. Another friend suggested drafting a letter of consent for the babysitter to use in case she/he needs to prove permissions to an emergency responder.

-I always give a new person a complete tour of the house and include both safety notes and things like how to use the remote control. I also show them where all the snacks are so they will be comfortable eating if they get hungry. At first I didn’t know if I should provide dinner or not, so I simply asked what they prefer.  My sitters rarely come hungry, so I told them just to let me know in advance if they ever need me to provide something.

-I have a babysitter fund hidden away in my house so I can pay my sitters in cash. I always appreciated cash when I used to babysit, and I like having the money taken out in one lump “babysitting” sum in our budget rather than smaller checks here and there, which can be harder to track. I get out enough cash so that I don’t need to go to the bank more than once a month or so.

-And this last advice comes from my mom: Don’t worry if your child stays up a little past bedtime or eats one too many cookies – your babysitter is there to keep your baby safe and happy.

 

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carrie January 8, 2014 at 6:59 pm

Great tips! My only concern is your comment regarding CPR training….personally, I consider it pretty essential as you truly never know when something terrible might happen. It’s not an outlandish requirement, as courses are so readily available and many people already have training (basically, it’s not that hard to find someone qualified). In my local area, even the babysitter training courses aimed at teenagers certify them in CPR as part of the class.

If you don’t mind one more tip – consider having the sitter over for a time or two as a mother’s helper before leaving them with your child for an evening. This gives your child and the sitter a chance to meet, and get a little bit used to each other before you aren’t around, and it also gives you a chance to see how the sitter interacts with your child before committing to an evening away.

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2 KERF January 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Great points!

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3 Lauren January 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I’ve done lots of babysitting (17 years of it! I can’t believe I babysat at 11 yrs old!) and I’m not CPR certified. I’d be more than willing to go CPR certification but the cost is $110! I’d totally do it if the family shared the cost of the cert or if they guaranteed me a certain number of hours! Currently I sit on an as-needed basis for evenings out. If I was employed as a nanny I would get it but I’m not! I would love to apply if it was listed as”willing to be certified” but I don’t apply for jobs where it is “required.”

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4 Ali January 9, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Agreed! Also, probably not the best idea to just go over the process with them. I recertified for work in May and they said that this can actually do more harm than good. It’s best to take a certified course and not just wing it. BTW, before I could babysit, my parents made me take a babysitter training course at the hospital that included CPR. It’s super easy to get CPR training and doesn’t take long. Something will likely not happen….but what if it does?

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5 Lisa B. February 12, 2014 at 2:41 am

I do concur regarding CPR training. That should be a basic requirement in my opinion and is just essential when working with kiddos.

Also, I always recommend to people and easy way to help find a babysitter is to use a service like this one: http://ReliableSitters.org It improves the odds when it comes to finding a good match of a babysitter. Profiles should say if they are trained in CPR or not, among other qualifications.

Thanks Kath for the great tips. Looks like you have a good blog going here with a good number of followers. Looking forward to more from you!

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6 Rachel January 9, 2014 at 8:11 am

As a nanny, and someone who has been babysitting for 10+ years, I agree with all of your tips!

I would add that especially as kids get older, go over specifics of their bedtime routine. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had kids try to convince me that they get juice in a sippy cup in their bed, that their door stays open, they can bring books into bed, etc. Every family has different rules, and every child has different needs, and I’ve found that knowing the specifics can help everyone stick to their routine (without interrupting parents with a phone call!).

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7 Farah January 9, 2014 at 10:49 am

These are awesome tips. Families I used to babysit for would either provide a meal (usually pizza that I could share with the kids) or just told me “help yourself to whatever food we have”. This didn’t mean that I cleared out their food, but it was nice to know it was ok for me to get a snack if I got hungry.

The home tour and showing the sitter how to work things like the remote is great too. One time I babysat for a family who had the fancy schmancy TVs and remotes….I had NO clue how to use them. The mom’s cell phone had died, so I had to call the company to help me.

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8 ARPL January 9, 2014 at 11:40 am

If your child is in daycare, ask the workers there if anyone moonlights as a casual evening babysitter. I was nervous to ask because I thought the caregivers would have their fill of kids from their day job – but found out that nearly all pick up some babysitting shifts for various families. And what a bonus that you already know them and they have safety training!

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9 natasha January 9, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Same goes for schools, not just daycares! Many degreed teachers will babysit. $20+ per hour in cash is great money for teachers to earn on the side. A teacher at my daughter’s school (not her teacher but one she was familiar with) babysat for us while we went to a Christmas party and it was a win/win. I felt good knowing she knew CPR, had lots of experience, etc and she made $100 to sit at my house while my children slept.

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10 Elle January 10, 2014 at 8:57 am

You also want to be sure that you leave a copy of your child’s emergency guardianship proxy with your babysitter. This is the document where you specify who the short term and long term guardians of your children are. For instance, if there was an accident and neither parent made it home, the police need to know who has the legal authority to take custody of the children (besides the babysitter.) For instance, you might list a friend who lives close by to be the short term emergency guardian to take the children in for a short time (parents in the hospital for a couple of days) until the longer term guardian could come and take over (more serious injuries or death.)

In the absence of this document, it is possible that the kids could end up in foster care for a few days or longer while the matter is sorted out.

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11 Aaryn January 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

These are great tips. Another idea is to trade babysitting with another mom. I’d go over to a friend’s house to watch her kids for the night and then she’d return the favor another evening. Win-win since your kids are already familiar with your friend and vice versa and it’s completely free!

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12 KERF January 10, 2014 at 7:33 pm

We have started doing this too! Great idea

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13 Lisa @bitesforbabies January 14, 2014 at 7:33 am

Great list of tips! I am SO lucky that I don’t need daycare or a sitters. My parents are both retired and watch my kids during the day. Also, we actually don’t go out too often in the evening (sad, but true) so my parents come over and watch them if we do! We spend our summers in Italy (and go out MUCH more) but it is so convenient for us because we stay at my in-laws…built-in babysitters!!!!! lol! (We are spoiled, I know!) ;-)

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14 Beth WA January 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm

Also, a random tip -
when you are writing the important information down, I learned somewhere along the way to write your address down, in the event that the babysitter would have to call 911, and need to know that quickly.

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15 WeNeedANanny.ca February 21, 2014 at 8:02 am

During the babysitter selection process, parents should ensure that the babysitter have adequate knowledge on first-aid methods, CPR etc. These qualities really come into play if there is an emergency.

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16 Sookie February 26, 2014 at 11:31 pm

Much needed! Good post and valuable comments, thanks for sharing the tips.

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