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What You Should Look For When Hiring a Babysitter

Saturday, October 23rd

What You Should Look for When Hiring a Babysitter

Finding a babysitter for your family can be a difficult process. With so many aspects to contemplate, such as your specific child's needs, many sitters to choose from, and different venues to find them; it can be natural for a parent to feel overwhelmed while searching for that elusive, perfect sitter. Of course, when trying to find the best babysitter to fit your needs there's a great deal consider. Will you have a certain age group in mind? Should your sitter be CPR certified? How available do you expect your caregiver to be? How educated? How experienced? And then there's the no small matter of trying to find a sitter reasonably priced, that can fit your budget. Yes, it is certainly a daunting ordeal. However, there are few things that, as a parent, might be worth paying special attention to when searching for your sitter. Looking for these qualities especially, can help narrow your search and ensure a win-win situation for both you and your caregiver at the end of the day.

The first area of qualifications you'll want to look for in a babysitter is how responsible they are. This seems rather obvious- undoubtedly you would want a babysitter who can first and foremost take care of your child and keep them safe while you are out. However, the word "responsible" can be very broad and vague; therefore, there are certain traits you will want to look for specifically that would lead you to truly believe that your potential babysitter, is indeed a responsible one. Elements like punctuality, patience, and authoritativeness all help indicate whether yours is a mature caregiver. Also, noticing that your babysitter is trustworthy and comes prepared for the job- both in attire, attitude, and certifications (i.e. Red Cross certified- if that is something you desire) are important qualities that should not be overlooked in your child's babysitter. The more your caregiver fits these characteristics, the happier and safer you'll feel when you step out of that home, and leave you child in their care.

The next set of features that you won't want to overlook is how fun your babysitter is! No one wants to leave their kid in the hands of a boring, uncreative, coach-potato. Clearly the level of activity and playfulness desired in your babysitter will vary depending on your family and the needs you have; but even still, it is important to find a caregiver who will interact with your child, form a relationship with them, incorporate creativity and imagination into their times together, and who will ultimately be sensitive to the temperament and needs of your child. Another good thing to pay attention to, are the reports of the babysitter given by your kid. You're the parent, so you can't base your babysitter's report card totally off their opinion, but it's important that your child feel a connection with the babysitter, and is happy and comfortable when left in the sitter's care.

Finally, there are some practical qualities and qualifications that you might find important for your babysitter to possess. Taking note of how much experience your caregiver has, the recommendations they come with, and how negotiable and tenacious they are with your family, are seemingly trivial but critical traits that will speak volumes to your babysitter's character. Look for a sitter that will meet your expectations in full. If you have certain expectations that your caregiver will do chores around the house, help with homework, have a car to drive errands, and cooking experience for meals, then make these expectations clear- you'll weed out those underqualified much quicker, and spare both parties' following headaches.

In the end, it will depend mostly on your family and the needs you all expect to be met. However, there are a few general guidelines to follow when undertaking the search for your caregiver. Responsibility, engagement, and practicality, are all broad but crucial elements to keep in mind. Know your family, know your expectations, and pretty soon, you'll know your babysitter.

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Babysitter Agency FAQ

A babysitter takes care of your child (or children) while you're away - at work, on a date, at the gym, or for any other reason. Babysitters can be male or female, old or young, but some states have statutes regulating the age that minors can be left in charge (usually anywhere from age 12-16).
A mother's helper is usually there to help with the kids while at least one parent is still present: maybe taking care of lunch and activities while Mom works from home, or doing the laundry while Dad gets the kids to bed. Nannies work on a more fixed schedule, either part-time or full-time, and there are usually employment/tax considerations to keep in mind. Au pairs come from other countries and live with the family, watching the kids and tending to other household responsibilities in exchange for room/board and sometimes a monetary stipend. Compared with those three situations, babysitting is much less formal and more of an as-needed childcare arrangement.
Word of mouth is the most common way to vet a new babysitter. It's great to have someone that's already taken good care of your friends' children with no problems! The downside is that these sitters will be in high demand, and you might not be able to get them on your desired schedule. You can also ask for references or run a background check, if you're considering a babysitter that isn't known to you personally.
When you're new to an area or don't have any available sitter referrals from friends, you could put the word out in local groups on social media. Unfortunately, that could attract less-than-reputable individuals! Instead, consider using a babysitter referral service: these platforms allow prospective sitters to create a profile, complete with client reviews and information about their background and any certifications they have (like infant/child CPR). Some referral services make it possible to get a background check, though the sitter may have to opt in before you can access the results.
You can expect to pay a membership fee in the neighborhood of $20/month to access most babysitter referral services. That gives you unlimited access to the database and to making connections with the sitters you find. Some platforms give you limited free access to get started, or a trial period to see if there are enough potential babysitters in your area to make it worth the membership fees.
That varies widely by geographic location, the number of children you have (and their ages), the expertise level of the sitter, and what you expect your sitter to provide. You can ask other parents in your area what the going rate is: underpay your sitter and they're not likely to come back! In the past, the reported average hourly rate for babysitters in the US ranged from $15-$20, but in less urban areas it tended to be closer to $10/hour.
Yes. You can make whatever arrangements you like with your babysitter. It's not uncommon to ask a sitter to fix a light meal, take care of the dishes after the kids are in bed, or tidy up the playroom while the children are watching a movie. Just remember that their primary focus should be on keeping your little ones safe, not housekeeping.
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