Five Tips for Finding (and Using!) a Great Babysitter
Leaving your kids for an evening with someone other than family or close friends can be a little nerve-wracking. Will your babysitter click with your kids? How will she handle an emergency? But going for months on end without some alone time with your partner can wreak even more havoc on your wellbeing. By doing some due diligence and creating a good relationship with a babysitter, you’ll eventually find that these nights out are stress-free and great for you and your kids!
1. Whether you know it or not, you actually have a lot of resources at your disposal for finding a great babysitter. Ask everyone you know well and trust, including friends, family, neighbors, coworkers, your pediatrician’s office, daycare, and local universities. And if those avenues fail you, there are even paid membership services that match up families with sitters in their area. Be sure to ask for references, and follow through and check those references to make sure you’ve snagged a trustworthy and reliable sitter.
- Invite your sitter over for a paid “playdate” with your kids. This will give your sitter a chance to meet your kids before you leave them with her, and you can casually observe her in action with your little ones. Afterwards, you can even ask your kids what they think. Sometimes, your kids will surprise you with their opinions!
- Once you’ve decided to hire a babysitter, give clear rules about bedtimes, mealtimes, and what amount of TV time is OK. Be sure to inform your sitter of any allergies your kids have, and let them know what minor rewards and punishments they might want to use. Give your sitter your phone number and tell him to call you, even if he isn’t sure there’s a problem and doesn’t want to disturb you. He’s only human, and a phone call in the middle of dinner is better than allowing him to guess at the right solution in case of an emergency. But you may want to ask your babysitter to limit use of his cellphone and texting while on the job. Texting distracts from the job. You can also outline your preferred methods of communication; while he might be more inclined to text you about important items, a phone call might be more appropriate.
- Pay your sitter a reasonable, agreed-upon rate that is commensurate with what she makes working for other families. Keep in mind that sitting for three kids demands a higher rate than sitting for one. You might want to give her a small bonus around the holidays, or pay her a slightly higher rate for special occasions like birthday parties, pool parties, or family outings. And the best thing you can do to make your babysitter feel appreciated? Respect her personal life and come home on time.
- Ask her for referrals. Your babysitter probably can’t be available every time you need her, so ask her f she knows other people who babysit who she can recommend. Lining up a cadre of babysitting help is a great way to make sure you fit in that date night whenever you need it.
So, go ahead and ensure a few nights out for you and your partner. Once you begin leaving your children with a sitter, and you see how much fun they have with her, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy these nights more and more with time.