Whether you're planning a date night or changing shifts at work, hiring a babysitter can make your life a little less stressful. But just like any other parent, you're probably apprehensive about leaving your children with a stranger.
It's important to thoroughly vet a babysitter before hiring one. Here are six tips to help you find the right sitter for your family.
1. Training and Experience is Important
Experience and training are both important factors, especially if you're looking for a sitter that will work most days of the week. For those once-in-a-while outings, you may be okay with leaving your kids with the neighbor's teenager. But if you need someone to watch the kids on a regular basis, you want someone who has experience in childcare and – ideally – some training.
Look for sitters with training in first aid, CPR and child safety.
2. Check References and Do a Background Check
Checking references and running background checks has become the standard procedure when hiring a sitter.
There are both free and paid background check services. Some families rely on social media to find information about potential sitters, but these aren't always reliable sources of information.
According to searchusapeople.com, "Many people use social media accounts to check on people but the problem with these platforms is that those who own the respective accounts can easily modify the information presented."
A formal check will provide you with accurate information from government sources.
Along with running a background check, you also want to check the sitter's references. Consider the families that have hired the babysitter. Are these families like yours? How many children do they have? Are the kids around the same age? Did the sitter have the same duties that you're expecting?
If the families are similar to yours, that means the sitter will have experience handling similar duties and challenges.
3. Do a Trial Run Before Committing
Before committing to hiring a babysitter, consider doing a trial run. Hire the sitter for a few hours after school to see how things go. Some parents prefer to be at home during the first trial run just to get a feel for how the sitter works with and treats the children.
A trial run can be beneficial for everyone. If the children and babysitter do not get along, you may run into issues down the road.
4. Make Sure Responsibilities and Rules are Clear
When introducing the babysitter to your home and the children, be sure to explain the rules and the responsibilities you expect.
The sitter should understand:
Your expectations for how the children should behave
Allergies and medications the kids may have
Emergency contact information
How to handle problematic behavior, such as tantrums
You may also want to set clear rules for:
Smoking in the house
Friend or boyfriend/girlfriend visits
Food and drinks (for the kids)
Activities (what games and activities are not allowed?)
Leaving the house with the children
5. Trust Your Gut
Above all else, trust your gut when hiring a babysitter. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. Hire a babysitter that you feel comfortable with and that your children enjoy spending time with.