You know you need to get back to date nights, but hiring a babysitter seems entirely overwhelming. When it comes to taking care of your kids, there's no such thing as being too cautious. You know you want someone who adores your babies and fits right into your family, but how will you ever find someone to care for your babies like you do? How much do you pay them? And, what questions should you ask a babysitter before hiring them? There are a few things you can ask in order to calm your nerves about leaving your kids at home.
Finding a sitter via personal references from people you know and trust might seem best, but it's not always possible. Before you leave your kids in someone else's care, it's important to get to know them as best as you can. Interviewing potential babysitters face to face is vital, as you can learn a lot about a person by their mannerisms, interactions, and facial expressions, as mentioned by New York University (NYU).
NYU also noted that checking references is extremely helpful. Speaking with the candidate's former employers can provide some valuable insight as to how they are with children, their reliability, and how they could fit in with your family. If they haven't had enough childcare experience to provide at least three references, you will have to decide whether or not that is OK for your family. Not wanting to provide references or refusing a background check can be a red flag.
Safety always comes first for Rita, mom of a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, based in New Jersey. "I always ask if sitters are First Aid Certified, with knowledge of both the Heimlich and CPR practices for kids," she tells Romper. Making sure your sitters are well-versed in basic First Aid measures can give you a little piece of mind that your precious babes are taken care of when you're away.
According to the Denver Post, some of the best questions you can ask are the "what-ifs." For example, "What would you do if my child gets hurt at the playground?" or "What if my child refuses to go to sleep?" You're not only checking for engagement and skills, but also, maturity and responsibility. You'll also get a sense of their confidence level when dealing with kids and their various problems, as well as their own self-confidence, both of which are necessary qualities to have as a sitter.
Penny, mom of a 1-year-old from North Carolina, mentions to Romper that she always asks her potential sitters, "What would you do if you couldn't get my baby to stop crying?" All moms know how frustrating crying babies can be, and it's important to get a feel for how your sitter might react to something like that, and if it aligns with how you would react in the same situation.
As George Washington University mentioned, methods of discipline are very important to go over beforehand. Ask them, "How would you discipline my child?" or "What would you do if my child hit his brother?" Be clear about your boundaries with your children, and how you'd want your sitter to approach various situations. When in doubt, or if a candidate seems to scoff at your choices, move on. The right sitter for your family will regard your parental guidelines as their own when dealing with your children.
Kiki, mom of a 3-year-old and twin 1-year-olds, says methods of discipline are most important to her. "We tend to be pretty laid-back with our kids," she says to Romper, "so, I wouldn't want any sitters to be more strict or expect things that we, as parents, don't even expect." Kiki mentions that she gives sitters a few scenarios, like sibling arguments, tantrum-throwing, and general misbehavior, to see how they would approach each one. "They don't have to know to do exactly what we'd do," she says, "but as long as they can listen, be open, and change their approach to what we want, it can work."
When it comes down to it, hiring a babysitter is all about personal preference and need. What works for one family may not work with another. The important thing is that your kids feel loved and comfortable with their caretaker, and that you feel that you are leaving them in a safe and secure environment. The right sitter will have no problem responding to all of your questions, spending extra time with your family to gain comfort, and following the rules and routines you have in place. And then, you can enjoy your date night, knowing your littlest loves are well taken care of at home.