Tips for hiring an amazing babysitter

by Nicole Bloomberg, MBA
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Top Tips for finding an amazing babysitter
1) It’s all about referrals! Word of mouth is the quickest and easiest way to find a great sitter. As women, we talk. That’s what we do. So talk to the people you know and trust and chances are they will be able to refer you other, like-minded and trustworthy individuals.
2) Ask a teacher or child care provider at your child’s school as they may want to earn extra money
3) Ask a family friend who has older children (but make sure they have their current CPR and babysitting course updated).
4) Don’t forget about extended family. Less worry, your kids are already comfortable with them and best of all, it is great bonding time with the kids!
5) And if you’re in a rush or are making last minute plans, use a reputable agency to ensure you’re finding a qualified person.

What NOT to do when looking for or hiring a babysitter
1) Do not put an ad in the newspaper, unless you are prepared to do a lot of screening. If you go this route, you must do your due diligence by checking references and seeing if they are a good fit for your family.
2) Do not make decisions based on money. Obviously your children are your most important asset and most precious possessions. If a fabulous, highly-recommended sitter wants a few extra dollars an hour, pay up!
3) Do not just hire anyone, make sure that you have at least two or three references and some kind of background check before leaving your children alone.
4) Don’t ask a friend’s caregiver to babysit for you without discussing it with your friend first. This could be easily misconstrued by some as ‘cheating on your friend’ or going behind their back as if having an affair.

Tips for easing the parent into the fact they are leaving their precious little one behind
1) Beyond the obvious… wine, Adavan… don’t mix together BTW… writing everything down for the sitter, in an organized fashion, will help put your mind at ease. Using the In a Pinch Back Up Plan will let you enjoy your night out as you can be assured the sitter knows anything and everything she needs to know about your kids.
2) Think back to when you were a child… Did your parents ever go out? Who babysat you? What fun and different things did you get to do because your parents weren’t around? Some of the best childhood memories are playing and having fun with the babysitter.
3) If you are really nervous, take baby steps. Go out for a quick drink. Then maybe for dinner. Then, once you’re more comfortable, make a whole evening out of it.

Tips for easing the child into a new situation with a new sitter
1) Talk to your kids and talk up the experience earlier in the day. If you’re rushing and if your kids are young, leaving them quickly with a ‘stranger’ can be challenging and lead to fear and tears. Even little ones need their expectations managed. One strategy our team often uses is to tell the children they are going on a special ‘play date night’ with the sitter and one of their favourite toys. Help them plan the exciting things they will do on their special date and share how jealous you are that they will have so much more fun than you because you’re going on a boring adult date.

2) Put in place a special treat system. It doesn’t have to be food oriented. Maybe ‘blankie’ or one of their sleep-time comfort toys can leave the bedroom for the evening. This item can also join in on the date night fun. Another option is to pre- purchase a simple gift, even something from the dollar store that you can have the sitter give the child. They can then open and explore the toy together as a bonding experience, as well as initial distraction for when you leave.

3) A special pre-planned activity also helps. The sky’s the limit. But as you know your child best, suggesting one or two possible games or activities to the sitter will ensure she gets it right the first time. Keeping the children active distracts from the fact Mommy and Daddy are gone. Some of my favourite activities are baking and art projects. As it’s the holiday season, maybe they can make a holiday decoration together and then display it somewhere for you to see when you get home. Children love surprising their parents.

4) Make sure if you’re in a real rush that all the information is written down somewhere. The more organized you can be, the easier everything will go for the sitter. You can use the In a Pinch Back Up Plan or write down basic instructions in an easy to read and find place. The goal is to ensure you’re not forgetting anything, from emergency contact, allergies and any medicine the children may be taking to basic but important details about routines and general likes and dislikes. You want the sitter to be able to easily look up all the pertinent information she needs throughout the day or night. It’s amazing how if a sitter knows that Johnny likes a certain song before bed or Sara only eats with a spoon, the experience can be that much more enjoyable and comfortable for all.

How to know if you have a great sitter
1) If she/he exhibits an engaging, positive personality and is warm, friendly and engaging with your children.

2) If they ask lots of relevant questions pertaining to your children and their routines, and if they are eager to find ways to bond and please your children. This usually means they genuinely care about your children.

3) Arriving on time and being happy and eager to be there.

4) If they have completed First Aid and CPR training and other courses. This is a sign that they are passionate about doing a great job.

5) If they come prepared for kid friendly fun, they may bring a bag of activities and games or craft ideas to make with the children. Some may even bring a favourite DVD so they can watch it together.

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