How to Find a Babysitter that’s Right for Your Child
When you’re looking for someone to take care of your kids while you’re out of the house, you unfortunately will not be able to count on family members or friends forever. At some point or another, you’re going to have to find a designated babysitter for your kids (or at least a few whom you feel comfortable with).
It’s totally understandable if finding the right babysitter for your kids makes you a little nervous. When you think about it, it’s kind of a big deal. It certainly isn’t anything to lose sleep over, but you do have to understand that you’re entrusting the lives of your children with someone else—and it may be someone whom at first you don’t really know all that well. Even though it’s kind of a big step and you may not know what direction to go in, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Finding a babysitter really isn’t all that hard. If you make sure you’re looking in the right places and you keep in mind the right qualities, you’ll have no trouble finding a babysitter that both you and your kids will absolutely love.
How to find a babysitter
Before you can make sure a babysitter candidate possesses the qualities you’re looking for, you first have to know where to find a babysitter. If you’d like, there’s a large variety of websites you can use to help you find a sitter. Those websites are definitely great resources, but you might want to start by asking friends or neighbors (whose judgment your trust) if they have a babysitter they like.
When asking a friend or neighbor about a sitter, make sure that the family of your friend or neighbor is similar to yours—meaning that your kids are close in age, have somewhat similar rules and disciplining styles, etc.
When you ask your friend or neighbor for a babysitter recommendation, you’ll already have a decent idea of whom you’ll be dealing with—and most importantly—you’ll know that you’ll be working with someone who already has some babysitting experience.
Experience is a Must That Way They know How to Care for a Kid
It probably sounds like a no-brainer, but finding someone with prior babysitting experience is key. Sure, everybody has to start somewhere, but it’s definitely going to make a difference if you work with an individual who’s familiar with the routine and knows what to expect. You already know that taking care of kids (even if it’s just watching them for an evening) can be pretty tough, so you need to make sure that your babysitter is someone who can handle the task, and someone who has already dealt with whatever curveballs your kids might throw.
Another thing you might want to keep in mind is any sort of certification in the areas of CPR or first-aid. This isn’t a necessary requirement for a babysitter by any means, but it’s definitely a plus. Of course, if you’ve come across a potential sitter who meets every qualification you’re looking for, but she isn’t CPR certified, that’s no reason to turn her down. Certification is more like an icing on the cake situation. However, your choice to hire a babysitter who possesses certification or not is totally up to you. And like any responsible individual, your sitter probably knows that she needs to dial 911 in the event of any emergencies—so you really don’t have much to worry about.
As far as safety precautions are concerned, though, you should always make sure your babysitter knows where your first-aid kit is. You don’t want the babysitter scrambling around the house in utter panic in the event that one of your child scrapes her knee or bumps her head (and don’t forget, if an accident happens, it’s probably not your babysitter’s fault. Kids get into accidents when you’re around too).
Reliability, because We All Know That’s what Counts
You want to make sure your babysitter is someone whom you can count on. Your babysitter needs to be dependable, reliable, and often times flexible to your schedule. If you can’t trust your babysitter (or your rotation of babysitters) to be there for you when it matters most, then she’s probably not going to be a good fit.
You can’t always expect your babysitter to show up at your door at the drop of a hat, but make sure you pick someone who is typically readily available to look after your kids. You should familiarize yourself with your babysitter’s schedule so you know exactly when it is she’s available. If a potential babysitter appears that she can’t make any sort of steady commitment to working with your family, it’s ok to look elsewhere.
Responsible is a Good Trait for Them to Have
Your babysitter definitely needs to possess a great sense of responsibility. You’re trusting this person to care for your children, and that means that the babysitter has to have the ability to care for your children to begin with. If your babysitter is someone who can’t properly care for a child (meaning she doesn’t know how to keep the safety of children in mind, or that she feels it’s ok to let your children roam free without any supervision), then you’ll need to find someone else.
A Good Babysitter is Intelligent
Many parents might not think of this right away, but it’s always good to find a babysitter who is academically adept. This means that you want to keep in mind whether or not your babysitter is a good student, and whether or not she’s capable of helping your kids with their homework if need be.
Pick a babysitter who not only does well in school, but one whose intellect is well-rounded. Sure, not every person does outstanding in every subject in school, but if you find a babysitter who makes consistently good grades in all of her classes, the chances are she won’t have any issues helping your kid with homework—no matter the subject.
Remember, you’re not looking for a tutor here (and you definitely don’t want your kids to think that every time the babysitter comes over they’re going to have to do homework), but a babysitter who can help your kids with multiplication tables and reading is never a bad idea.
Imaginative and Playful
Your kids like to play games with you (hopefully) so you definitely want a babysitter who’s willing to play with your kids. When you play pretend or play games with your children, you know that your kid is expanding her ability to think creatively, so it’s definitely a great idea to find a babysitter who can help expand the minds of your children in addition to just you.
You most certainly don’t want a babysitter who has no interest in interacting with your kid, and if you pick someone who’s fun and creative, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a babysitter who will be willing to go along for whatever magical ride your kids want to take your babysitter on. If your potential sitter simply feels she’s too cool to play pretend, she really has no business babysitting at all.
That might sound like a bit of harsh condemnation, but you have to remember that you’re hiring someone to spend time with your kids, and that means doing kids’ stuff. If your babysitter is lacking in a lively sense of whimsicality, your kids will most likely dread the times that the babysitter comes over.
Make Sure Your Kids are Comfortable
In addition to making sure you hire someone who is willing to play with your children (which most likely means that your kids will like the babysitter), you want to make sure that your kids simply enjoy spending time with the babysitter. This means more than playing games.
You want your kids to have a babysitter that makes them feel comfortable—meaning your kids think the babysitter’s friendly, approachable, and fun. You don’t want a sitter who’s going to make your children feel intimidated, or a babysitter who makes your children feel like they can’t be who they are.
It’s important that your kids get excited when they hear that a particular babysitter is coming over. You want your kids to look forward to the babysitter’s company, and feel like the babysitter can provide your children with good times.
Make Sure you Feel Comfortable
Of course, you also want to make sure that the babysitter gives you a feeling of comfort as well. If the babysitter makes you feel ill at ease, or you find her to be lacking in affability or her presence is a bit off-putting, look for another candidate.
You’re going to need to make sure that your level of comfort goes beyond just the personality of the babysitter. You still need to feel absolutely positive that your babysitter is a competent individual, who understands the needs of children and is also responsible and mature.
The Perfect Balance of Authority and Friendliness
While you want your kids to have fun with your babysitter, you can’t let your kids think that the babysitter is someone whom they don’t have to respect. If your children think it’s ok to just walk all over the babysitter simply because the babysitter is friendly, then the babysitter of your choice isn’t going to be able to properly ensure the safety of your kids, and even the state of your house.
If your children feel they don’t have to respect the authority of the babysitter, they could potentially make a mess of your home, hurt themselves, or even harm the babysitter. Your babysitter needs to know when to draw the line and when to create boundaries. Again, you want someone whom your children can have fun with, but it’s also important that your babysitter knows what sort of fun is acceptable, and that the babysitter isn’t afraid to let your children know what sort of behavior is allowed and what sort of behavior isn’t.
Even though you want your children to look at the babysitter as a friend, it’s also necessary that they understand the babysitter is an authority figure (just like you). That means your kids have to follow the same rules and guidelines that you set for your kids. You don’t want a babysitter who feels your rules should be rejected, or that the rules can simply go out the window when you aren’t around.
For your children to understand what’s right and what’s wrong, they’re going to need consistency in terms of the ways that that particular sense of right and wrong is presented to them. You don’t want your children getting any mixed signals. You’ve tried very hard to shape the character of your children, and you don’t want those efforts to go to waste simply because the babysitter feels it’s ok to dismiss the ways in which your discipline your kids. You want the babysitter to be more than just fun and friendly, she has to be a role model in the lives of your children as well.
A Babysitter you Can Bond with
Seeing as how your babysitter will be spending time with your family (your children) it’s important that you hire someone who could potentially feel like family. When you have a babysitter you like, she’s most likely going to be around for a long time—meaning you want someone whom you can have a long-term relationship with—and long-term relationships can be only be cultivated by bonding.
You want your kids to bond with the babysitter, and that means you should be able to bond with her as well. You want someone who you can more or less call a friend of the family—someone who feels like family. While the babysitter you hire may initially be a stranger, you don’t want her to stay a stranger forever. It’s important that both you and your children can form a bond with whomever you choose. If you feel you can’t develop a strong relationship with your babysitter over time, then you’ll never fully feel like you can trust the babysitter or feel comfortable with her—and trust and comfort are essential when looking for the right sitter.
When looking for a babysitter, you basically have to look for someone who is able to act as authoritative presence while also being sensitive to your kids’ needs—needs such as a healthy amount of creative stimulation, the honing of any intellectual needs, and of course, any sort of emotional needs.
Basically, you simply want to find a babysitter who is able to be there for your children in the same way that you are. A babysitter is pretty much a temporary parent, and that’s what you need to keep in mind when looking for the perfect sitter.