Not everyone has family nearby to help mind your children when you need it. While it is usually better to ask a trusted member of your family or a friend, sometimes it may be necessary to hire a babysitter. Like anything to do with children, choosing a babysitter needs time, care and preparation.
Some things to consider are:
- How to find a babysitter: recommendations from other parents you know; if your child goes to day care enquire if a carer would be interested; check community boards, ads; use an agency.
- What to look for: someone trustworthy you and your child can get along with; someone whose availability isn’t too limited; preferably someone close by where you live; someone with experiences or references.
- Preparing your child: if you are worried about someone babysitting your child, invite them over for a ‘dry run’ to meet you and your child; tell your child a babysitter will be coming; have a special toy, activity or food ready for when you are gone; if your child is old enough let them be the guide showing the babysitter around.
- Preparing the babysitter: have written down clear mobile numbers/instructions on how you may be contacted if need be; an alternate emergency contact; specific dietary instructions for your child if necessary; any medical conditions your child may have and response to those conditions; what routines your child may have and what expectations you may have re bed time, acceptable TV programs or games etc; how to work relevant appliances if need be; some favourite games, toys or soothing techniques that may be required.
- Evaluating the babysitting experience: probably the best way to assess if the babysitter has been successful is if you feel a relationship has developed between the sitter and your child; look for your child’s reaction when you say the sitter is coming again; has mess been made and left for you or toys etc put away?