A good babysitter is a mom’s best friend. Trust me, I know because I have an incredible one. Someone who I trust to the fullest extent and my kids adore. Someone who is just the right amount of playful and firm. Someone who fits easily with our family and has allowed my wife and I the gift of keeping our friendships and romance alive.
No, you can’t have her number (kidding) (not kidding), but you can have her advice! She and I sat down recently to put together this list of Do’s and Don’ts for hiring a babysitter. Follow this prescription and you might just find yourself a fabulous sitter of your own!
[For pronoun ease, the babysitter below is referred to as female, but certainly great babysitters come in all genders.]
- Search for a sitter with experience with your child’s age and developmental needs. Daycare, children’s actives (ex. dance teacher or gymnastics coach), and referrals from friends are all great places to find your next babysitter.
- Be honest with your sitter. Do I love that my 3 year old still takes a sippy cup of milk before bed? No. But if she’s going to be putting her to bed, she needs that information. (I’m telling myself that she’s seen worse!)
- Pay your sitter well. $12-15/hr seems to be the going rate for Greater Hartford, depending upon age, experience, and number of children. Also, a tip never hurts. (I like to do so by rounding up on hours)
- Make life easy for her. If you have the time, get the kids in pjs before she arrives. Also, consider allowing the kids a special treat (pizza delivery?) or movie while she is there. Remember, you want your kids to look forward to babysitter nights, and you want to keep her coming back!
- Be afraid to use a sitter via the internet (ie: care.com or sittercity.com). I’ll admit, I was hesitant at first, but found a fantastic summer nanny on care.com.
- Settle. In order to enjoy your time out, you need to be 100% comfortable with your sitter. Be sure your philosophies match on things like discipline, screen time, and bed time. (I can’t tell you how much it means to me that my sitter is willing to lay down with my kids until they fall asleep!)
- Undermine your sitter. Once she’s arrived, she is the boss. Support her in any behavioral problems that arise and if you have any issues to discuss regarding her job performance, do it away from the children.
- Speak to the children ahead of time about your plans and behavior expectations to help prepare them.
- Leave numbers, flashlights, alarms, allergy info, and other safety info in an open and obvious place.
- Go over schedules in detail so it is as consistent as possible for the children.
- Let the sitter get out of the house with the kids – the park, a play place, or even a walk helps to break up the time.
- When possible, give plenty of notice on babysitting dates (we don’t like having to say no!)
- Invite the sitter over for a meet and greet prior to the first day of babysitting – there is a lot of info to cover and it’s nice to do it ahead of time.
- Have the children brainstorm things they would like to do with the sitter, put it in a hat, and every time she comes over, enjoy the surprise of picking an activity (especially great for a hesitant kiddo or those new to having a sitter!)
- Discuss payment face-to-face, if possible. (Save that for text, email, or a phone conversation.)
- Come home late without a call or text. We don’t mind – it’s your time – but it is nice to know when we should expect you (so I’m not asleep on the couch when you walk in!)
- Check in every hour. It makes us feel incapable and distracts from our time with the children. If there is a problem, we will let you know – promise!
- Ask us to prepare an elaborate meal. We don’t have any problem cooking for the children, but keep it simple, please!
- Expect more work for the same pay. If you have children from multiple families coming over, each family should pay the discussed rate for their child(ren).
Questions? Any items to add to our list?
Huge thank you to the wonderful Miss Crissy for her collaboration on this list – and so much more!