When you can't remember where (or when) you went on your last date, you know it's time to find a sitter. Yes, it's scary, but there ARE qualified individuals out there ready and willing to help. Where are they, and how do you choose? OK. Let's go over a few of the basics, shall we?
# 1 Know who you're dealing with.
One of the biggest mistakes when getting a baby sitter is simply not gathering enough information. While sweet Sally Mae from church might seem like the perfect choice, she may in fact be the most irresponsible teen around. You simply can't judge a book by it's cover, even if you think the cover looks right for the job. So instead of walking directly up to someone and proposing that they do a little sitting for you, you might consider talking to the people around you.
- Has anyone had Sally sit for them before? How did she do?
- Is she a good student? It's a good general rule that a kid that can't stay on top of her studies might not be the best choice to play mommy for the evening.
- Who does Sally hang around? Typically, I would say that a person's friends don't necessarily define them, but in this case, it can be a good indicator of maturity and attitude.
After doing your research, you might ask Sally for a brief babysitting resume or list of references. Be sure and take advantage of a reference list by calling every number on it. You never know what stories (good or bad) you might hear.
# 2 Get organized.
Once you've picked the right sitter, be sure you provide
him/her with all the information they will need to take care of your little one,
come what may. This means:
- a list of important phone numbers
- medications/doctor's orders
- house rules
- a list of foods that might be potential choking hazards to your child
- and the clear location of things like flashlights and first aid kits
Have an organized, easy to read paper (or packet), already prepared to give to the sitter. Preparation is key when you won't be there to think on your feet and protect your child from whatever dangers the future holds.
# 3 Be a team player.
Don't leave a huge mess for the sitter to clean. In general, it is impolite to expect cleaning/cooking service from someone you only hired to watch your children. If you wanted a maid for the evening, you should have hired one of those as well. However, in some cases, if discussed before hand, a sitter may be willing to cook and clean for a higher fee. If not, just be sure the house is in order and something has been pre-prepared for the kids to eat. If you feel like being especially accommodating, you might offer him/her whatever is in the fridge. Otherwise, just mention to the sitter that the kid's food is on the table so they won't have to bother searching the fridge or cabinets for something to feed them.
# 4 Payment
Never wait until the end of the night to discuss payment. It isn't likely that your sitter would even come over without discussing this part of the deal first, but there are always exceptions to the rule. If he/she shyes away from the topic, encourage them to work it out with you before they arrive. If they are new to this, and unsure of what to charge, feel free to make an offer. Let them go and think about it (AKA talk to other sitters) and then come back with a "yes", "no", or a "let's talk".
This blog post was provided by Stephanie Parker – our blog writer extraordinaire!