Tips for Searching for the Right Baby Sitter
Like most every teenage girl, I spent a great amount of time searching for babysitting jobs in my neighborhood to make some extra cash. Particularly as a preteen, after the boom of “the Babysitter’s Club”, I took my career seriously, investing in name cards for my would-be clients and posters signaling my desire to further my career. All this while gathering with my best friend, and neighbor, to make our plan of attack for the summer camp we’d create to watch our sure to be huge influx of clients. Of course, our summer camp never happened, my mom promptly removed my posters from telephone poles, and my client’s name cards went, for the most part, unused. I guess in a world where it’s hard to trust just anyone, my mom wasn’t willing to put my phone number or information out there for the world to see.
My how times have changed.
These days, looking for a babysitter for your young ones is not only much easier to do, but slightly more stressful as well. With things such as iPhones and computers taking over our pre-teen and teenager’s worlds, it’s hard to separate the responsible, from those who simply want the house alone for the night. Not to mention, there’s always the problem of finding someone available on the days and times that you need them. A night after work is often problematic for those still in school, while a weekend night might turn your potential sitter off because it’s likely their night off as well. Granted, you’d think that a sitter seriously looking at looking toward making some money will of course jump at the chance to work regardless of the night, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
With so many factors playing a role in your babysitting needs, and your child’s care resting in the palm of their teen hands, it’s important to take considerable thought over who you choose to care for your toddler.
Where To Start
Because of my mom’s personal feelings over letting me go to a stranger’s home, a lot of my own babysitting experiences were brought on through recommendations. Friends of the family, neighbors, even family members who knew that I was looking for babysitting work would often hand out my name and information to those who were actively searching. This worked out well, leading to several consistent gigs, as well as year of nanny-ing in my junior of high school. Personal recommendations are perhaps your strongest source of reliable sitters because they’re coming from people who know and trust the sitter personally. Ask around, most likely you’ll find someone who is willing to share their sitter’s information for you, making your life easier.
If, however, you’ve tried and failed to come up with a sitter who someone you know and trust personally recommends, using an online site such as Care.com is a great place to start. Performing basic background checks, care.com allows you to view the profiles of potential sitters in your areas, see what days they can and cannot work, and schedule them for an interview beforehand.
No matter where or how you’ve found your potential sitter, you should always set up a time for them to come to your house to see how you feel about them in person. This will also allow your child to interact with their potential sitter and see if it’s a good fit for them as well. While the interview does not have to be conducted under the same circumstances as a normal job interview, you should still take it seriously (as should they) because they will be watching the most precious thing you possess: your child. Take care to note if your sitter shows up on time or late, whether or not they have references you’re able to contact, if they know CPR or not, and how well they interact with your child. Keep note as well over how often they check their phone and Internet in your presence as this can be a clear sign of someone who won’t pay attention to your child the second you turn your back.
Pay & Prep
Before you take the plunge and hire your sitter, discuss the specifics of their night alone with your child. Discuss how much you’re willing to pay for the number of hours, as well as where everything of importance in your home is (fire extinguisher, home phones, addresses, ect…). Ensure that the sitter has a clear understanding of the rules for the home and your child, what they can and cannot eat, and how late they are allowed to be up. Because it is your home and your child you should feel comfortable letting your sitter know whether or not guests are allowed over, what movies or shows are allowed to be watched around your child, and whether or not they are allowed to leave the home with your child present. Finally, be sure to give your sitter the best number to reach you at as well as an accurate list of emergency contact numbers in the event that you cannot be reached.
Leaving your child in the care of someone else is stressful enough, meaning that searching for a sitter who you trust can be a nightmare. Take some of the stress out of your night out by starting early and finding a sitter who you feel will take care of your home and more importantly your child. Living in San Diego, I’ve found that parents were much more inclined to hire a babysitter who was given off of a personal recommendation. Ask your family, friends, or even your local preschool if they have any suggestions for a sitter. While the Babysitter’s Club might be thing of the past, there’s always someone out there willing to lend a hand and take the best possible care of your son or daughter.