How to Find a Good Babysitter
When you think of a babysitter, you might picture a teenager chatting on the phone and completely ignoring the chaos around her — kids screaming and jumping on the sofa, TV blaring, and toys and snacks strewn about. This image might make you reconsider your date night or convince you to ask if you can drop the kids with their grandparents for the night. But taking the time to find a trustworthy, qualified babysitter is worth it in the long run. And there are many ways to do it and a few things to know before hiring someone to look after your little ones.
Why You Need a Babysitter
Finding a good babysitter can give you some essentials as a parent. For one, having a steady babysitter gives you a chance to get out of the house and socialize when you need to. Being a parent can be exhausting, especially if you have a younger child who needs a lot of supervision. Occasionally you need a break! That’s when you call up your babysitter for a night off to go out with your partner or friends. You’ve earned it!
Secondly, having a reliable babysitter around gives you peace of mind. No parent wants to leave their kids with just anybody, and you don’t want to have to worry every minute you’re out of the house about whether your children are being well taken care of. Using the right hiring methods and asking important questions can put your mind at ease on those occasions when the sitter comes to stay.
Beginning the Search — Figure Out What You Need
Before asking around or posting any ads, take the time to figure out exactly what you need and want out of a babysitter. Here are some things to consider before hiring.
Your budget. What can you afford to pay a babysitter? What do you think is appropriate per day or night rate for babysitting?
Availability. How often do you think you’ll need a babysitter? Are there circumstances that might involve last-minute babysitters? Will you need them more for occasional nights out or are you looking for someone to regularly watch your kids during the week?
Qualifications. Will your babysitter need to have a driver’s license and reliable transportation? Is CPR certification a must-have? Do you want a babysitter who you know will enforce all your house rules when you’re not around, or someone more laidback and fun?
Different Kinds of Babysitters
Babysitters have a lot to offer, and the better you know them and their situation, the more you can rely on them. There are different types of babysitters, and each has its own list of pros and cons. Let’s break down the different types of babysitters so you can further understand what exactly you need for your children.
High school babysitters. Teenagers in high school might be a good option if you have older kids that need to be watched after school or on weekends. They may not have as much childcare experience as older sitters, but you can typically pay them a lower rate for their service.
College babysitters. Young adults and college students can be a good option if you need to hire someone for more regular sitting, like every day for a few hours after your kids get out of school. Some students, like education or nursing majors, babysit for the experience and might be more likely to have CPR training. One downside to hiring a student babysitter is their availability; they might be less available on short notice and they may head home for holidays and during the summer.
Adult babysitters. These are former teachers, nannies, or stay-at-home moms who have their own children, or even grandparents. Adult sitters have more experience in childcare and might be better if you need a sitter who does some cooking and homework help. Keep in mind that mature sitters will likely charge more for their service than less experienced sitters.
If your child is toddler age or younger, going with an older and more experienced babysitter is the way to go.
Finding a Sitter Near You
Now that you have a better idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to begin the search, and there are multiple ways of doing it.
Ask around. You probably have a friend or relative who uses or has used a babysitter. If they recommend a sitter, it’s probably worth looking into. After all, someone you trust isn’t likely to recommend a sitter they had a bad experience with. You can also ask around your child’s school or daycare. Find out as much information as you can from the person that recommended the sitter before you reach out to hire. Maybe that sitter, while perfect for your friend, wouldn’t work well for your family if you need someone with more experience.
Check out babysitting agencies. Websites like Care.com and other agencies offer plenty of helpful tools for finding sitters in your area. Some of these agencies run background checks and allow you to look through profiles of available babysitters to find one that closely matches your needs.
Post an ad. If other avenues aren’t as successful for you, try posting an ad in Facebook groups in your area. You could also put up flyers around a college campus or at church.
Interviewing a Potential Babysitter
Even if your potential sitter is one that comes highly recommended by someone you trust, you should meet the sitter and ask some questions to get to know them and their childcare style. If their methods don’t align with yours, you can thank them for their time and keep on looking. Only hire someone you fully believe is qualified and trustworthy.
Here are some important questions to consider when interviewing a potential babysitter:
- How many years have you been babysitting?
- What do you like about working with children?
- What activities do you do with the children?
- Are you CPR certified?
- Would you be able to drive if there was an emergency?
- What do you think children like about you?
These questions will help you understand their experience and character. In addition to these, ask about their normal hourly rates, their availability, their disciplinary methods, and whether they plan to babysit long term.
Moms Share Their Babysitter Search Tips
“Find someone through an agency. They have background checks available. I’ve found a lot of my nanny jobs that way! Make mommy friends and nanny share!” –Hannah Mills
“Don’t be afraid to pay good money for good childcare. You want someone to care for your baby and actually care about baby and feel paid what they are worth.” –Maya Abbott
“Best to find an older lady. They make incredible nannies. Maybe call some churches and ask if they’ll pass your contact info along to the people who work the nursery.” –Ashley Robinson