Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Tips for finding (and keeping!) a great babysitter

I spent most of my free time in high school babysitting for people who lived in my town. At one point in time, I was busy almost every night of the week and even some days when I didn’t have school! When I moved away to university, I passed “my families” onto my little sister. I loved babysitting and even moved into a nanny position when I got to university. Here are some tips on how to find and keep a great babysitter that I have gathered from being a babysitter for over 8 years!

Finding a babysitter
  • I got most of my jobs by recommendations from moms I already babysat for. This is a great place to start. Ask your friends, neighbors, and other mommies who they use. Sometimes it can be someone you know, sometimes not. However, don’t be afraid of someone you don’t know! Just because they aren’t in your immediate community circle does not mean they are bad or inept. Also, if people refuse to give you a recommendation, don’t be offended! Some people don’t like to share their sitters, especially if their sitter is perfect for their family. On the same note, don’t feel obligated to use or continue to use a sitter that does not work for your family if you received a recommendation, is a friend’s daughter or a neighbor. Because of the intimate nature of a sitter-family relationship, sitters need to work for your family and if they don’t feel right, chances are that the sitter is feeling the same way.
  • Another place you can look are place like Care.com and Sittercity.com. Some universities and colleges have their own childcare search program, like the University of Utah’s UMatch which you can use if you are a student, faculty, or staff at the University of Utah. Try to be as specific as possible in your ad for what you expect and the type of person you want.

You found a sitter! Now what?

  • Set clear expectations. Nothing was more frustrating to me than when parents told me nothing about how they wanted their kids disciplined, what they can eat, expectations for bed time, what (and if) TV/Movie programming is allowed, etc. Don’t rely on your kids to relay information either. Kids are mischievous and may view the sitter as a way to do something he/she would not normally get to do.
  • Even though your babysitters are technically “household employees”, don’t treat them like you are in a boss-employee relationship. They are, after all, taking care of your children in your place, not doing your taxes. Try to develop a peer to peer relationship with them. Get to know your sitters, ask about their personal lives, and recognize important events such as birthdays and graduations. Sitters are more likely to stick around and develop great relationships with your kids if they feel connected to the family.
  • Pay your sitter well. Always pay more than minimum wage, and you should pay more if the sitter is high quality or doing more difficult work such as caring for a child with special needs or sick children.  Of course, what you pay is up to your discretion but don’t just assume that your sitter will be happy with what you pay just because you would have been happy to receive that when you were a babysitter in the past. Always have an honest discussion with your babysitter (away from older kids) about what you expect to pay and what your sitter expects to receive.

Do you have any tips for finding or keeping a great babysitter? Let us know in the comments!


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