There are times when you need to employ the services of a babysitter; however, finding one can be a daunting task. Having some time to yourself is important but finding someone who you can trust to look after your child requires careful consideration. Moreover, as there are no specific regulations in place regarding babysitters, it is your responsibility to choose a suitable individual.
What to Look for in a Good Babysitter
It is recommended that children under the age of thirteen be cared for by a babysitter if you are going to be out. While it would make sense to ensure that babysitters are aged at least sixteen, when it comes to looking after younger children, it is usually advisable to choose those who are least eighteen.
As previously mentioned, there are no regulations regarding babysitters in the same way there are with childcare providers. Babysitters do not have to register with a governing body and they are not required to have a DBS (disclosure and barring service) check. Having said that, it would be wise to ensure that anyone you are leaving to care for your child has been DBS checked.
Interviewing for Suitable Babysitters
If you are lucky enough, you can get a recommendation for a babysitter from someone you know and trust, or you may have a family member who is willing to look after your children while you go out. If you need to find a stranger to babysit for you, then it is important that you take your time to get someone who is trustworthy.
There are organisations you can use to find a selection of babysitters to suit your particular needs and situation, but you will need to interview the candidates to help you make a decision. By using an agency, you can have some peace of mind that references will have already been provided and checked. Nonetheless, you will still want to meet or speak to the candidates yourself before allowing them to take care of your child.
It might be possible for you to conduct phone interviews initially to help you get a feel for the prospective candidates. When you speak to each babysitter, you can ask them the basics such as asking them to tell you about themselves. You can then ask things like how much they charge per hour and if there are different rates if there is more than one child. More importantly, though, you should also ask to see their references.
Doing Your Research
If you have narrowed your candidate list down, it will then be time to do some research on those who have made the shortlist. Try to contact and speak to families that the candidate has worked with in the past. Ask them about their family and the age of the children that the candidate has taken care of. Ask them for their experience with the candidate and what responsibilities he or she had. The more information you can get, the easier it will be for you to make your decision.
Compare the answers that each candidate gives and then consider those that you liked best in terms of the answers to the questions that were most important to you and your children. Think about your own set of requirements and which of the candidates is most likely to be able to meet them.
When you have decided on the candidate that you believe might be right for you and your children, it is probably best to initially invite him or her around to your home. This will give you an opportunity to learn more about this person and his or her skill set as well as giving him or her the chance to meet you. Take the opportunity to ask some more questions, such as how they would deal with an emergency situation.
It is important that the chosen individual displays knowledge of what to do and can think clearly and logically. In an emergency, you will be looking for someone who can be calm and clear-headed. It is important that your babysitter will be able to act quickly without panicking.
Ideally, let the potential babysitter meet your child or children during this meeting. This will allow you to gauge how he or she is around children. You should be looking for someone who gives your child plenty of attention and who can engage with him or her.
Although qualifications and references are very important when it comes to finding a babysitter, you should also go with your instincts in terms of who you choose. Your child is precious, so finding the right person to take care of him or her is something that you should be prepared to take the effort doing.
When You Have Found the Perfect Candidate
Even when you have decided on someone that you believe you can trust with your child, you are bound to be apprehensive before the first time you leave them together. You should have already discussed house rules with the babysitter beforehand – i.e. whether you are happy for him or her to have anyone over while you are out, what time you would like your child to go to bed, and rules on alcohol consumption (ideally, this would mean no alcohol consumption at all while looking after your kids) – things like this.
Before you leave, it is important to go through any information that you feel may benefit the sitter while you are away. Make sure you leave emergency contact information and tell the sitter where you are going so that he or she can get in touch with you should there be any issues with, for example, mobile phone coverage. You should also make sure that you leave your full address in the event that a situation arises that requires emergency services to attend.
When you get home, discuss how the evening went and whether there were any problems. You may find that your sitter has some questions for you after spending time with your child. Perhaps there were certain issues that arose during the evening that he or she was not sure of.
You should also speak to your child/children the following morning to find out what their perspective was on how the evening went. Ask if he or she/they liked the sitter and if there was any part of the evening that they particularly enjoyed or not, as the case may be. All this will then help you create a positive relationship between you and your children and the babysitter, which will hopefully ensure that going forward, things run more smoothly all the time.