Choosing a Babysitter

You need a night out, but choosing someone to watch your little one can be a daunting task. Here are some questions you should ask before settling on a babysitter.

Times have changed since the days you could ask any young girl in the neighborhood to watch your child while you go out for a night on the town. Nowadays, we have to be much more careful in our choices. Whether you find someone through an official babysitter service or someone who comes highly recommended from friends you still have an obligation to feel them out and ensure they are the right match for your family. Here are some questions you can use when interviewing a potential babysitter:

Tell me about yourself.  It’s good to have a decent rapport with the person who will, in all honesty, be raising your child even for the short time you will be away. Find out why they chose to babysit and about their personal life like if they have children or young siblings. It isn’t intrusive to ask what their hobbies are or who their family is and certainly doesn’t hurt to ask if they have ever been convicted of a crime because they’re going to be finding that out about you and you want to make sure they are a good fit for your children.  

How long have you been sitting and do you have prior references? How you take the answer to this question will depend on your child’s needs. If you have young children, you need someone with more experience, versus for older children you really just need someone capable of being a watchful eye and calling 911. Contacting references is very important, especially when you are hiring a stranger.

How much do you charge? How much a caretaker charges can tell you more about them than a resume could. It’s a good idea to choose quality over price in this situation because someone who charges a higher rate is probably doing so based off of experience and service level.

What services do you offer? This may sound silly because obviously they are there to watch your child, but it’s more nuanced than that. Will this person cook for your child or do you have to have a meal prepared? Are they willing to pick your child up from somewhere and take them somewhere they need to go? Will they help with homework if the child needs it? Before you contact the sitter, think of all the things you may even just possibly require them to do and ask if they are willing to. You don’t want to find out down the road that your sitter refuses to take your dog out while watching your child and have to make last minute arrangements to the detriment of your wallet.

What do you do in an emergency? This may be one of the most important questions, and you should propose all sorts of outlandish circumstances to see how they would react. What would you do if there is a fire? What if my kid is choking? What if someone comes to the house? Ask these questions not only to find out if the sitter knows how to handle them properly, but also so you can tell them if you have a preference on what to do in these “what if” scenarios.

After settling on a sitter make sure you call home occasionally the first time they sit for you. You probably want to go somewhere close to home in case you need to come back for some reason. After a successful session, thank the sitter and if all went well use their service again because it’s better to have your child become familiar with one consistent person and for that person to familiarize themselves with your child.

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