Hiring a babysitter can be a very stressful decision. You have to rely on your own judgment to select someone to care for the most precious thing in your world: your children.
Hiring a Babysitter – What Should You Know? There is no exact science to finding someone who will be a perfect fit for both your family and your budget. But, there are some steps you can take to ensure that the process goes as smooth as possible. First, you have to decide what kind of caregiver you need.
Babysitter, Nanny and Mother’s Helper – What’s the Difference?
A Babysitter is usually someone who watches your children on a part-time basis for a night out, after school or other on-call reasons. Sitters may provide supervision or transportation (to/from school, gym, park etc), ready children for bed and other daily tasks but don’t normally play a part in deciding on activities or outings. A babysitter typically works for several families at the same time.
A Nanny is a full time, long term caregiver who has specialized training in childcare and extensive experience; often with a specific age range. Most nannies provide daily care and may even accompany the parents with the children on family outings or vacations. They arrange activities and outings that not only entertain your child, but also provide unique methods for assisting with your child’s enrichment and development. Many nannies bring their own ‘goodie bag’ with crafts, books and other items to create in-home learning experiences. A nanny typically works with one family at a time.
A Mother’s Helper is a caregiver who is present while the mother (or father) is also at home. They are usually employed by work at home parents or stay at home parents who need time daily to get errands and chores done around the house. The basic role of a mother’s helper is to entertain and tend to the child(ren) while the parent concentrates on work or tasks; they may also handle light housekeeping and activities like neighborhood walks, trips to the park etc. The requirements for a mother’s helper can be more relaxed since one or both parents are home and can make decisions when needed.
Hiring a Sitter
Once you’ve decided which type of child care your family needs, it’s time to start searching for workers. Many families already know of a family member or neighborhood sitter they can call on. Other families use babysitter networks where friends share a list of trusted caregivers and schedule together to swap days. Unfortunately not every family has these trusted networks at their disposal. Luckily, there are several reputable sitter finding services online that can connect you with caregivers in your local area, provide a bio, background check, their availability schedule, references and even reviews.
Interviewing a Sitter
If you use a sitter finding service you may already have questions to most of the big questions like experience, age, transportation, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for verification of things listed such as training, CPR/First Aid certification, driver’s license and other important areas. You can then ask other in depth questions such as:
- Why did you leave your last childcare job? Do you currently sit for other families?
- Why do you enjoy watching children? What is your favorite activity to do with the children?
- How do you handle a child who won’t listen or misbehaves? How do you handle a tantrum? Biting? Hitting?
- Do you have children of your own? How old are they?
- If they attend college or have a non-childcare job – how often does their schedule change?
- Are you comfortable with changing diapers, administering medicine, tending to cuts and bruises, etc?
- What types of meals and snacks do you like to prepare?
- How long can you commit to a job with us?
- Ask them to share a ‘bad’ babysitting experience and a ‘good’ one.
- Are you available for last minute sitting or overnights?
You can offer an off-site interview at a neutral location like a local coffee shop or the park – or you can ask for a ‘working interview’ where the caregiver comes to your house, speaks with you about the job and then spends time with your child under your supervision.
Deciding on Pay
There are many things to consider when deciding what hourly rate you would like to offer a caregiver. You should always use your state’s minimum wage as the lowest rate and increase from there depending on the requirements of your job. Some of the main factors that can affect the rate of pay for a sitter are:
- number of children being watched
- will they need to pickup, drop off or otherwise transport the child(ren)
- homework help, practice help (dance, sports, etc)
- will they be required to do housekeeping or meal preparation
- the sitter’s experience level or certification
- the sitter’s own requirements for pay
Also keep in mind that many sitters charge a higher rate for late night, overnight or weekend care.
Other things to consider before hiring a sitter: Will the sitter be present during lunch or dinner and will you need to provide adult meals for them? Do you have a backup plan for days the sitter may call in sick or with car trouble? Have you reviewed sitter tax requirements for your state?