Finding a babysitter can sometimes be challenging because each family has different needs. In order to find the right sitter you must evaluate the size of your family, your kids’ ages, family pets and the responsibilities the babysitter will have.
A good strategy is to write down all the basics about your family including allergies and important rules. Then think about the specific types of jobs you will need a babysitter for. At night for example the babysitter might have to bath the children and put them to sleep. A day job might require the babysitter to pick up kids from school, feeding them a healthy snack and entertain the neighborhood children playing outside.
If you don’t have a babysitter, start asking family, friends and coworkers for good referrals. Start out with casual contact, a phone call or e-mail, to find out more about potential babysitters. Don’t mention any specific dates you will need a babysitter but say something like “we might go out for a few hours on a weeknight” or “what’s your availability?” Also, while someone might have a lot of sitting experience, they may not have sat for anyone your kid’s age or taken kids to a public park. So find out the details of their experience and compare it to your needs.
One strategy to “test” a babysitter if you aren’t 100% comfortable with the situation is to have the sitter come to your home for an hour or two. This gives you a chance to get to know them better and see how they interact with the kids. You might even plan on running some errands and let the sitter have a trial babysitting job. Not all children/sitter relationships work out…the sitter might realize that they can’t handle the kids and not be comfortable babysitting for your family.
When you do find a new babysitter it is crucial to tell them all the details. You don’t want to disturb your children’s routines or put the babysitter in a compromising position. Make a list of all allergies, illnesses, medications, pet care, bedtimes (and blankies!), acceptable food and drinks, where to find changes of clothing or pajamas, TV rules and any other household things to know.
Always have a list for the babysitter to refer to. Download babysitter “While we’re out…” sheets here. Type in any consistent information such as cell phone number, print off sheets and fill them each time you have a babysitter. Suggest activities and write down any special instructions for that day. Also make sure you write down where you are going to be and when you expect to be back.
Also have an emergency sheet handy with emergency phone numbers, poison control number, neighbors’ names and numbers and directions to the nearest hospital. Devise a plan in the event of an emergency including who will drive if the sitter cannot and what to do about car seats. If you will be far away from home or your children have a serious illness or allergies, always have a back-up “sitter”. Make sure a neighbor or nearby friend will be home while you are gone in case of any emergency.
Having a good babysitter is important—it gives you the peace of mind to enjoy yourself while you’re out and it ensures your children will be safe and have fun too. It is also important to make sure you communicate everything to the babysitter. No matter how great of a sitter they are, they don’t know your child’s favorite book that week or where you keep extra diapers. Using “While we’re out” sheets every visit and planning in case of an emergency situation makes everyone more comfortable. Your family will find a great babysitter, there are plenty of qualified sitters are going to be great parents if they aren’t already. Just make sure you do your part by telling them imporant details about your home and children.