7 Things You Should Know Before Choosing a Babysitter
Choosing the right babysitter can be a difficult task. While some have the luxury of relying on a close relative or older sibling to care for a child, others have to resort to placing out ads for a babysitter or hiring from an agency. Hiring someone you don’t know to ensure the safety of your children may sound frightening, but there are measures you can take to help make a valid choice for a babysitting candidate. Conducting a thorough interview can clarify the potential babysitter’s overall character, babysitting philosophy, experience level, ability to handle emergency situations, and much more. If you feel uncomfortable with the sitter after administering the interview, she likely isn’t a good choice.
Your babysitter should have some idea of how she is going to spend her time with your child. Know what activities she intends to do with your child in order to keep them occupied and out of trouble. This could be as simple as homework, dinner, and an hour of television before bed, but she should be able to have a basic idea of how to keep your child entertained. Posing this question while interviewing a potential babysitter should give you an idea of whether or not she would be able to handle the activity level of your children. If your children are very active and her plan consists of popping in a movie and relaxing, she may not be a good fit.
Her experience level
A babysitter with some experience handling children similar to yours is desirable. If the babysitter in question has primarily school-aged children and you’re looking for someone to care for your infant, she might not be equipped for the situation. Likewise, if you have boys and she’s only babysat for girls, she may be overwhelmed with the vast differences between them. All children are different, and while she may be used to calmer kids, it’s worth letting her know if your children tend to be hyperactive, combative, or prone to tantrums.
How she thinks
Be sure to ask the babysitter how they would handle various situations. Questions like this force her to think on her feet, as she would have to do in an actual emergency. For example, ask her how she would proceed if she discovered your child choking on something. And on that note, ask her if she has acquired CPR training. Ask her what she would do if your child threw a fit over not being able to stay up late. Ask her what she would say if your child refused to eat dinner. Ask her what she would do if one of your children bit her, or tried to harm her in some way. This helps you to determine how she uses discipline. You can also feel out what kind of emergency she feels is large enough to either call you or call 911.
Whether her shots are current
If the babysitter isn’t up to date on her immunizations, your children could be susceptible to diseases such as Varicella, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus, and Hepatitis. She should provide proof that the necessary vaccinations are up to date. Young children’s immune systems are especially weak to such diseases and viruses. Also make sure she isn’t susceptible to illness within your home by making sure she doesn’t have any allergies that would be compromised on the job. If she breaks out in hives at the mere sight of cats, and you have three, you’ll want to know before she sets foot on the premises.
Her rates and availability
If you plan on using this babysitter for prolonged periods or with any kind of frequency, you should have an understanding of how much she expects to be paid and what kind of hours she can typically work. Ask her what her extra-curricular activities are. If she’s a student and can only work on weekends but you need someone who can work weeknights too, it may be better to find another sitter that can do both rather than allowing her to work weekends and finding someone else for weekdays. Plus, if you can get her to commit to a defined timeframe, you’ll be able to gauge how reliable she is in the long-run. Payment may have been something you specified when you placed an ad for a sitter, but if you decide that you want her to work on special occasions such as New Year’s Eve, it would behoove you to ask her what her holiday rates are.
The most common job interview question should also be applied to interviewing a potential babysitter. Ask her why you should hire her. This question allows you to measure her actual desire for babysitting. Her response can be somewhat of a catch-all, by divulging her experience, how much she loves children, and how much she knows about babysitting. You will probably also be able to decipher whether or not she’s simply doing it for the money.
Lastly, you’ll want to determine whether or not she has a clean criminal record and driving record. You may also want her to do a basic background check online. There are several free services she could use and you may have her consent to using one of them. It may seem extensive, but your children’s lives will be in her hands — you can never be too thorough in determining whether or not she is a safe candidate. If she is hesitant to supply a clean record, it is simply not worth the risk of leaving your children under her supervision.