Do you need a date night with your spouse? Do you need some time without kids climbing on you to run errands or even just get stuff done at home? When was the last time you were able to eat a meal from start to finish without interruptions? Then it sounds like you need a Babysitter! Here is how to find a great
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We recently embarked on this adventure as we had been telling ourselves for years that we needed to find a babysitter. Up until recently, we relied on my in-laws, who live over an hour away, or a friend from church to help us out if my in-laws were not available to watch the boys. As I am getting busier with this blog, still working a fulltime job and my husband is busy at his job, it was time to bite the bullet and start getting serious about finding a babysitter.
Where to start your search for a great babysitter
How do you actually go about finding a babysitter? Ideally, the best way is through referrals. If someone you know has someone they trust already, then half the battle is won. We are extremely picky with who we let watch our 3 boys, mostly because I am worried about safety. Our youngest is currently 18-months and he is at the stage where he likes to get into everything and put everything in his mouth. I want to make sure whoever we get WANTS to be there and isn’t just doing us a favor and also someone I feel understands what it means to keep an eye on him at all times.
We decided to give Care.com a try since it seemed like the biggest source of candidates that would potentially be interested in the job. I have been in recruiting for 13 years so I treated this like a job I was trying to fill. First, I developed my job description, thought about my search criteria, and then started conducting interviews. Ideally, we wanted to get a list of 3-4 potential babysitters at the end with 1-2 being our main go-to ones. You never know about people’s availability and when a life situation will change so we didn’t want to put all of our eggs in one basket. I signed up for Care.com 30 day premium account and tried to interview as many as I could in that 30 days.
What to look for in your search for a babysitter
Here are the main criteria that I was looking for in a babysitter. Yours will probably be a bit different but it gives you somewhere to start.
- Has to be over 18 and ideally in the 20-40+ age range. Since my youngest is so small still, I want someone with some more experience and maturity but someone that would still have enough energy to follow him around for hours. If you have older kids like 4+ years old, having a younger babysitter would not be as big of an issue because they should already have an idea of what is safe and what is not.
- Someone at least somewhat local. We started with a search radius of about 5-8 miles because we wanted someone to not have to drive too far to come to us, especially if we needed someone last minute. After our first couple of rounds, I opened it up to a 20-mile radius but only interviewed the ones that matched a lot of our preferences.
- Someone that has handled younger kids, especially the 1-2 year age. Most babysitters will have dealt with older kids and they tend to be easier. If they haven’t had experience with toddlers who get into everything, need diaper changes, are hard to put down for naps, etc then it wasn’t for us right now.
More Babysitter Criteria/Preferences
- Being able to drive. We definitely needed someone who could drive themselves and potentially even drive our kids. If one day we needed our oldest brought to soccer practice or maybe one day go to the park to keep them busy, this would be helpful.
- Has to be comfortable with dogs. We have a mid-sized 5-year-old pup named Sadie who is very friendly. We needed to make sure someone wouldn’t mind Sadie wanting to be involved in all activities and expecting attention.
- Availability. We were mostly looking for someone that could be available on weeknights and weekends. We wanted someone who was comfortable with an as-needed basis. A surprising amount of people I talked to were expecting something more on a regular basis.
Time to Meet
Once candidates had met these criteria, I either set up an in-person interview to meet our family or started with a phone interview. When I first started, I just set up the in-person interview first but eventually found that it was a better use of time to start with a phone interview. Over the phone, I could get a good feeling about their experience and what they are wanting.
Related Post: Connecting with your spouse as busy parents
What questions to ask
Here are some of the questions that I felt were helpful for us to ask:
- Where do you live (make sure it was a commutable distance)?
- What is your availability?
- Are you comfortable changing diapers?
- What activities do you like to do with kids?
- Tell us about your experience with different age ranges
- How do you handle situations when 2 kids are fighting (more so arguing over a toy and not physically fighting)
- Are you open to helping with other things like clean up, meal prep, dishes, etc?
- What do you like most about caring for children?
- What is your hourly rate?
Once you have narrowed down your list, I suggest you give them a try. I thought it would be good to try our top candidates out for a few hours (ideally while we were there working on other things). That way, when we need to schedule someone last minute or when we need to be gone, the kids will already be comfortable with the babysitter.
We had each of them come for about 3 hours or so (depending on the need that day). We kept an ear out to see how things were going. I had her and the kids pretend like we weren’t there. At least 3 hours is necessary because it gives the kids a chance to warm up, have fun and then the novelty to wear off a bit. It worked out great for us and I am confident we have some good options now. Hopefully, this will help you too during your search for a babysitter!
Here are some fun things that our kids love playing with the babysitters:
Make sure to teach your babysitter these 5 simple signs in baby sign language to easy frustration.
For a great checklist for the babysitter when you go out click here.
Parents.com gives some additional advice on Choosing a Babysitter.