For many parents, findind a babysitter can be a real puzzle. Some will even stop going out because they haven't found the right person to look after their kids from time to time. Will she be mature and responsible enough? Will she be good with the kids?
Here are some questions and tips that will help you choose the right person.
Invite her to come and meet you
Ideally, you should meet this teenage girl (or boy) to ask her questions, see her interact with your kids, show her around the house so that she'll know her way around and where to find what she'll need.
How old is she?
This is a delicate question since not all teens have the same maturity level. It’s not only about age, but more about your general impression when you meet this person. That being said, a babysitter should be at least 12 years old. You would of course be reassured if the person was 16 or 17, but let’s be realistic: kids that age go out with their friends at night… the same nights you do! Not always convenient! If the sitter is younger, she will probably be more available and will be for years to come!
Who is she?
The best way to get to know your future babysitter is by talking to her about her tastes,interests, school life, family, etc. If some things are bothering you, it may be time to move on to the next candidate.
Why does she want to babysit?
Don’t put words in her mouth. Let her explain the reasosn why she loves to babysit. Is the hourly wage the only thing that interests her or does she actually love children?
What is her experience?
There is a huge difference between babysitting a baby, a toddler and an older child. It is important to know her previous experience with children. Does she have siblings? It could be a valuable asset!
Has she had training?
The Red Cross offers babysitting courses that allow kids aged 11 and older to learn about how to feed a baby, change a diaper, prepare simple meals, play games with children of all ages, avoid injuries and maintain a secure environment for the children and react appropriately in case of an emergency. These classes are offered through schools, community centers, youth homes, etc. These courses will reassure the sitter and the parents recruiting her. You can get more information through the Red Cross by calling 1-877-356-3226.
The Red Cross created a document to remind you what type of information you should leave to the sitter when you leave. Don’t forget to have a first-aid kit available. You probably have everything that’s needed, but scattered all over the house. In an emergency, it is better to have everything in one place.
Ask specific questions
- What meals are you able to prepare?
- What games do you like to play with children?
- Does giving a child a bath scare you?
- Can you make the children respect bedtime?
Can her parents help in case of an emergency?
It is not a necessity, but it couldbe reassuring to know that the sitter’s parents are available and can come help her if she is worried or overwhelmed by the events. Obviously, in case of an emergency, she will call you, but while she's waiting for you to return, her parents can be useful.
It is better to settle on the wage at the beginning. Prices may vary, but a babysitter usually expects about $5 an hour. If you have more than one child, she will expect a higher salary. Where you live and the sitter’s popularity will always play a part. A well-treated and well-paid babysitter will want to come back and will favour you if she’s in demand!
Ask for references
Finally, ask your candidate for references. Her previous experience is probably the most important thing to consider before hiring her.
If no one around you is available to babysit your kids, check out SOS Sitter, a website that connects sitters and parents. For a monthly or yearly fee, you will have access to a list of candidates, which will give you a good start in finding an amazing sitter!
* For the purpose of this article, we only referred to the babysitter as "she" to lighten the text. Babysitters can obviously be boys as well.