Hiring a babysitter can be a confusing task. There are so many things to consider as you face the task of selecting someone to care for your children in your absence, and you want to find the perfect fit between the babysitter and your family. Here are some of the most important things for you to consider when selecting a new babysitter for your children from Candi Wingate, founder of Care4Hire.com.
1. The babysitter should be able to relate easily and bond well with your children while maintaining a clear distinction from them. Babysitters must be able to play with and enjoy your children (which can often be construed by the child as peer-level interaction) while also maintaining discipline. It is easy for a babysitter (and a parent) to feel more comfortable in one role or the other: to be most comfortable being friends with the children, or to be most comfortable supervising the children and redirecting their errant behaviors.
2. The babysitter must be able to relate with your family and administer discipline to your children in a manner that is appropriate and consistent with your family’s boundaries. If you have a prospective babysitter that uses social isolation (sending a child to his/her room, for example) as a method of behavior modification, and you are not comfortable with that method of behavior modification, then the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family.
3. The babysitter should ideally have years of experience, solid references from prior employer-families, a clean background (pursuant to background checks), and completed training on babysitter basics (CPR, first aid, the Heimlich maneuver, basic nutrition and food preparation, and general personal and home hygiene). You can obtain background checks through Care4hire.com. The babysitter should not represent a risk to your children in any way; thus, in addition to the foregoing, the babysitter should be current on his/her vaccinations.
4. If you need your babysitter to drive, then your babysitter should have a valid driver’s license, a clean (or as close to clean as possible) driving record and a reliable car.
5. The babysitter should be able to develop and carry out fun, creative, and educational experiences for your child.
6. The babysitter should be willing and able to comply with your rules about what constitutes appropriate television viewing, when s/he may use his/her cellular telephone while babysitting, when s/he may use your telephone for his/her own purposes while babysitting, when s/he may have friends over while babysitting, etc.
7. The babysitter should be capable of handling small “crises” on his/her own. You and your babysitter should come to an agreement about what issues may warrant a call to you and what issues the babysitter is authorized to handle on his/her own. Your babysitter should be able to act comfortably within the boundaries you have provided.
8. The babysitter’s expectations regarding terms and conditions of employment should be close to the terms and conditions of employment that you are offering. If you wish to hire a babysitter in a smoking home, a non-smoking prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family. Pay rates for babysitters should be discussed up front to ensure that the prospective babysitters are willing to work for the income you offer.
9. The babysitter should not have fears or concerns about the non-negotiable aspects of the job with your family. If you have a cat, and your prospective babysitter is severely allergic to cats, the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family. (Side note: some allergic reactions can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications or other accommodations that may be used by the allergic babysitter.) If the prospective babysitter is unable to work specific hours or days and you need your babysitter to attend to your children on those days or in those hours, then the prospective babysitter may not be a good fit for your family.
10. The babysitter should be a positive, loving influence in your household.
Candi Wingate is an expert in the child care industry with over 20 years experience. She is the founder of Nannies4Hire.com and Care4Hire.com, and author of 100 Tips for Nannies & Families and “The Nanny Factor: A Parent’s Guide to Finding the Right Nanny for Your Family” and a mother of two.