How to Find a Babysitter


Trusting someone else to take care of your kids is hard enough, and finding a worthy candidate just makes it harder. Here’s what you should do to finally find a reliable babysitter.

You’d think your needs are simple, right? You need someone to keep your children safe and happy. But there’s a lot more to it than that. Writing out what you want from a babysitter will help you figure out what you need in a sitter and narrow down your applicants later. As you make your list, rank which qualities are crucial and which ones you can do without.

Here are a few things you should consider for your list:
  • Cost. Child care is expensive, so if the candidate will put too much strain on your budget, move on to someone else. It doesn’t feel good to do this—you want to spare no expense when it comes to your kids—but with enough effort you should be able to find a quality sitter in your price range.
  • Availability. Think about how often you’ll need them (daily? weekly?) and how many hours you’ll need them (just for the afternoon? overnight?). You should also know what their schedule is like in case you ever need them on short notice.
  • Potential duties. Will they be transporting your kids and thus need to have a driver’s license and/or car? Are they cooking dinner for your kids? Tutoring them? Do they need to be okay with also handling your pets? What skills would it be nice for them to have and which ones do you absolutely need?
  • Past work. You should ask them about their work experience and past clients. Ask them to provide references, and actually call them. You can also run a background check by going to a nearby police department, or through a private company.
  • Safety. You probably want someone with certifications in CPR and First Aid, particularly if they’re going to be very active with your kids.
  • Their ideas for engaging your kids. Ask them how they would spend their time with your children. Will they just plop them in front of the TV? Or do they have plans for fun or educational activities?

You can develop a list of interview questions from these qualities, too. Here are some suggestions about you can use to find out more about your potential sitter’s work style and personality:

  • “Tell me about a time when a personal circumstance or situation impacted, or had the potential to impact, your work. What happened and how did you handle it?” Use this question to judge whether they’re someone who takes responsibility for their situation or places the blame on others. Learning about the character of your potential sitter helps you decide what kind of person will be around your kids.
  • “What does a family owe its child care provider?” A direct way for you to find out what they expect from you and to decide if you’re comfortable with meeting those expectations.
  • “Tell me some of the things you have accomplished that you are proud of.” You get to know more about what drives this person. Your kids may end up learning some important life lessons by interacting with their sitter—make sure they have a great example to mimic.
  • “What would you do if you got locked out of my house without your keys, your phone — and my kids were inside?” This questions gives you the chance to test their instinctual reactions and ability to keep your kids safe, even in a hypothetical scenario.

You don’t have to use the above questions exactly, of course. Use everything above as a jumping off point for setting your own babysitter criteria and questions.

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