Finding a sitter for the first time is nerve-wracking, especially if it’s for your first baby. As a family we’ve had some wonderful sitters and a select one or two that didn’t end up working out so well. Fact: I once came home in the middle of the day to a sitter sleeping while Hailey and Kaitlyn were toddling around the playroom. Trial and error, my friends, trial and error.
Over the past six years that I’ve been finding, interviewing, and hiring babysitters, I’ve picked up a few pointers along the way that I’m hoping are helpful to pass along. First, my best nuggets of advice:
- A sophomore in high school is a great babysitter age because they most likely will have a reasonable rate, be appreciative of the tax-free money, and you will have 3ish years to be able to use their services.
- A fifth or sixth grader makes for a wonderful mother’s helper. Not only do they usually genuinely enjoy playing with your kids, when they are ready and able to babysit on their own, they already know your house, your kids, and your rules.
- Have more than one sitter. We like to have three we know we can call. It helps if they are in different stages of life so that if something fun is happening at the high school, you aren’t out of luck for snagging a sitter because you can call your go-to college gal.
- Don’t wait until you need on to start searching. It’s stressful.
- If you can find a sitter in the neighborhood, it is ideal. Not only are the close by (no traffic woes), it’s an added layer of comfort that they are in your community and you all know the same people. I also remember calling my mom when I was babysitting if I had a question or concern, and knowing she could come over if I needed her made me feel more at ease.
- Be thorough and direct. More than once I’ve assumed a sitter knew things that they did not. We once came home at 8:15 PM to find the girls (and the sitter) playing in the backyard after I told her bedtime was at 7:00 PM. She said the girls (ages 5 and 2 at the time) told her they weren’t tired. I assumed she would know kids push boundaries, but I was wrong, so I learned to be incredibly detailed with my directions.
- Remember that you are the employer. I’ll be honest, this was (and sometimes still is!) really hard for me. I don’t like feeling bossy, but being clear and direct is not bossy. Hire people you are comfortable with and trust.
- Take the time to interview and have trial days. It’s tedious, but it makes such a positive difference in the long run. Interviewing a few babysitters and selecting your favorites to come over for a 3 hour trial while you are at home is a time investment that will lessen headaches down the road.
Speaking of interviewing, here are the questions I use and have fine tuned over the years. I had a list a mile long when my children were babies and now that the girls are three and six, I sometimes only really care to ask “are you available.” ( I kid, I kid.) However, these eight questions give me the input I’m after to make the decision as to whether or not the sitter is a good fit for our family.
- What interested you in this position?
- What do kids like about you?
- What is your favorite age to watch?
- What are your favorite activities to do with kids?
- How have you handled discipline with kids you’ve cared for?
- Can you tell me about an emergency situation or a scary event that happened while babysitting? How did you handle it?
- What is your availability?
- What questions do you have for us?
These questions are so helpful to me because they will give me insight into what I can expect from them when they are babysitting. Do they say they love crafts, exploring outside, building forts, or do they look at me with a blank stare? Also, I have found go-getter sitters I adore, but they have booming social calendars and are never able to actually commit to babysit. These questions have helped me find some really wonderful, reliable sitters that the kids enjoy and I hope they can help do the same for you!
Share with me:
Do you have any great successes or failures when it comes to babysitters?
What question do you always like to ask potential babysitters?