Hiring someone to look after your children is an important decision, and it's not something you should take lightly. But that doesn't mean you need to stress and worry either.
This is something pretty much every parent goes through, and by now it's pretty much a science. If you're hiring a babysitter for the first time, or if it's been a while since you needed to, refresh your memory with these 9 tips you shouldn't forget and you're sure to make a great choice.
But here's one extra tip before we get started: if things aren't working out between you and your choice, there's no shame in telling them "sorry" and looking for someone new. These are your kids, so make the right choice!
1. Ask around
Before you mess around with a referral service, online reviews or resumes, ask the people you trust who they use. Everyone has an opinion about their sitter, so if you hear a good one see if they're available.
2. Try somebody you already rely on
Odds are you're already leaving your child in the care of a daycare worker, a Sunday school teacher, or some other carer for a few hours each week. They already know your child, so there's less of a hurdle than picking someone new.
3. Take care of the important details
This may seem like a no-brainer, but don't forget to leave your sitter a list of emergency numbers, the number where you can be found, and any important information about your child and their health. You can find a printable sheet here.
4. Give them a test
The best job interview for a baby sitter is a little supervised time with your children. Watch how they get along together, run an errand to see how they handle it, even quiz them about some basic safety information to test their skills.
5. If they're not trained, offer to help them
Everyone's needs are different, but no matter how old your kids are, everyone feels safer when they're supervised by someone who knows CPR. If they haven't taken a first aid course, offer to cover the cost, or give them a raise if they agree to take one.
6. Cover their transportation costs
Have you gone through a number of sitters even though everything seems fine? It may be that your wages aren't covering the bus fare or gas to reach your house. Always throw in something extra to make the trip worthwhile.
7. Make your rules clear
It can be hard to trust your sitter when you catch them breaking your rules, but if you don't tell a them what's expected you'll start off on the wrong foot. It's best to make a list of rules and print them out, so there's no confusion between the two of you.
8. Get your child's input
After your sitter has been over a few times, have a long conversation with your kids about them. Ask what games they play, if they follow all your rules, and whether the kids are happy to see them. If they tell you something different than the sitter, that's a red flag.
9. Ask for references - and use them!
Whether they give you a past employer's number or their family member's, call them and ask for feedback. Be frank and ask if they had any problems with your candidate, it's better to learn now than later!