I worked in the childcare field for nearly ten years before becoming a mother. I have worked in preschools, home daycares, as a private nanny, as a part-time babysitter, provided childcare in my own home and in daycare centers. Also, I have an undergraduate degree in Child Care Management. To say I know a little bit about children and the childcare field is an understatement. However, I’ve noticed since becoming a mom, knowing how to find a babysitter is hard. Here are a few tricks of the trade I recommend to other parents from a woman that’s been on both sides of the hiring coin:
Where To Find Good Help
Starting the process of looking for a reliable babysitter can be daunting, including where to begin looking for one. The old standby of finding a sitter from a word of mouth friend or family member seems to be dying off. Sure, there might still be the occasional neighbor in high school that is looking for babysitting hours, but so many teens seem to be looking for other types of work or just don’t work at all. Yet, it doesn’t hurt to put the word out to trusted loved ones that you are seeking an occasional date night sitter.
Another good way to find a reliable sitter is to place an ad at the local college. Many campuses have a student employment center where you can list the requirements of the position, the pay rate, etc. This is a good way to bring in college students that have a background in teaching, psychology, human services or whatever field you’d prefer. College students tend to have a lot of availability on nights and weekends when you probably would be seeking coverage. Finally, you can place ads on Facebook, Care.com, and Sittercity.com to find candidates with background checks, rates of pay already listed, and references ready for you to contact.
The Screening Process
When you find a promising candidate have them come over for an interview at your home. Make sure that any children that they will be caring for are present. This will give you a good chance to see how they interact with them and give your kids a chance to meet them too.
Ask questions that will give you insight into the person they are and their experience with working with children. Ask them for a number of personal and professional references, depending on how many you feel comfortable with. Another idea is to toss out a fake scenario that might occur when they are watching your kids (diaper blowout, a child gets sick, a lost toy tantrum, etc.) and ask them to tell you how they’d handle the situation. This will give you some insight into their judgment in a stressful situation.
Finally, you may want to ask them if they’d be comfortable watching your children while you are present at the house to start out with. This will give your child a chance to spend time getting to know them (and vice versa) but also give everyone the reassurance that mom or dad is close by should something come up. You can use the time to catch up on things around the house while giving them the distance to play/watch your child in another part of your home. This should be a paid trial run!
You Get What You Pay For
Like so many other things, money can make the difference in the quality of care you will get for your kids. Childcare isn’t always the most lucrative job. It’s often underpaid and underappreciated in value. So, if you are willing to pay your sitter a little bit more than the going rate, you are likely to get someone that will not only step up to the plate but will probably stay around for the long haul.
Sure, childcare can be pricey and not all families can afford to pay much. But, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the childcare provider! The gig has to be worth their time. Could they be making more money at another job? Check the current child care rates in your area, and if possible, go a dollar or two over that! Start a “Sitter Fund” where you put any extra cash or loose change in a jar to save money for a great sitter. You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll have the money saved!
Also, little gestures of thank you and letting them know you appreciate them in your family’s life mean a lot too! Just like any other position, when an employee feels appreciated and is being paid a fair wage, they will give it back to you in job performance and dependability.
It can be stressful to find and keep a good babysitter. Especially when all you want to do is have a night out with your spouse! Hopefully, some of these tips will help your family know how to find a babysitter that will stay with your family in the long run and be an excellent care provider for your kids while you get a much needed break with your spouse or even by yourself!