/> What To Look For In A Babysitter

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Whether you need to run errands, want to go out on a date or even need to head back to work, one of the biggest fears for a new mom or dad is...

"Who will care for my child?"

"How do I find someone?"

"What do I ask?"

Start with the people that surround you. Word of mouth is the best advertisement. This can include co-workers, friends, neighbors and church-members. There are also online services like care.com or sitter.com to help you. Look for a sitter who will fit in with your family and lifestyle.

Here are some qualities to look for in a babysitter, whether it is only for a one-time job or a possible long-term basis:

Your first impression will be based on punctuality and a good attitude. Set up a preliminary meeting to see if they show up on time and look upbeat and have an active attitude.

Next, get to know them. Ask them about their background (special interests). What they are interested in can help in the mentor/role model they will portray to your child(ren).

Ask about their skills. Skills are helpful if your child could use tutoring in school subjects, on the computer, music and even sports. Do they have any first-aid training or are they CPR-certified? This is a bonus. Find out where it was acquired (for example: local Red Cross, hospital, fire station, etc.).

A couple of final personal questions you can ask about are their future goals. What are their future goals and activities (example: sports, music, college, etc.). Is their time-frame open for your schedule? Also, what is important to them (values, morals, etc.)?

Now move onto how well they work with children. How long have they been babysitting? If they are just starting out babysitting, you would be able to mentor by having a supervised babysitting job with her/him. What type of activities does the sitter have to share with children during their job? Look for new learning or favorite experiences for your child (example: puzzles, games, hobbies, art, etc.).

Give the sitter some scenarios to see how they will respond. Examples could include: "Discipline - How would you handle the child jumping on the couch?" "First-Aid - The child just fell down and hit his head on the corner of the table and his head is bleeding badly. What do you do?" "Fire - You smell smoke...what would you do and in what order would you do it?"

Other questions to consider are:

Back-up Babysitters - if the sitter isn't able to take the job, does he/she have back-up friends that babysit? (five back-up friends is a good number).

Transportation - how will they get to and from the job? If you will be providing their transportation, make sure that whoever is driving is the designated driver and is not under the influence of any drugs or alcohol.

The last part of the interview is your expectations. Let them know what you expect of them. Prepare a list and ask if there will be any issues enforcing these requests. Example - if healthy food and exercise are important to you, discuss this with them as well as house rules, etc. If you want them to do extra work like cleaning (other than cleaning up after their activities and snacks), laundry, etc. You MUST pay them extra for this. If they just do extra work around the house and you appreciate it - let them know. Tip them a little extra if you can. Just let them know if you can't always tip them extra, be honest and up-front.

Place them on a trial run and let them know this, that way if they have problems they have a chance to back out as well. A good amount of time would be a couple of weeks. See if they're a good fit with your family. Usually your child will know right away if they like the babysitter or not. Will they be able to keep up the activities (interest for your child's development)? Do they have forms (or take notes) to fill out about your family? With Babysitter's Magic Backpack Manual you can have all the important family information forms you will need. It also makes a great gift for your babysitter.

Collect their references (up to three) and make sure you call them.

Last, the handshake. Believe it or not, a handshake says a lot about a person. A soft handshake means they are caring and need to build more confidence in themselves (these usually are sitters just starting out). A firm handshake is what you're looking for. They take control in tough situations and are protective when needed and caring. Now the handshake that squeezes until your hand turns numb means they are in control and will run a tight ship!

Whatever type of sitter you are looking to leave your child(ren) with, remember this person will be an influence in your child's life. Don't rush this process; find someone in advance for future jobs. At Babysitter's Magic Backpack, we wish you the best in your search to find that perfect babysitter for your family.

Click HERE for a handy, printable checklist for you to use.


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