The Babysitting Guide: Quality Care and Your Babysitter
How to manage and evaluate your babysitter
You may be tempted to think that once you've found a great sitter, your job is done, but it's important to continue the evaluation process, particularly as the needs of your ever growing child change. Schedule a few "check in/performance review" dates with your babysitter so she is aware that evaluation will be an ongoing process.
Keep in mind that praise and constructive criticism are both good things. Instead of saying "good job" or "needs work" be specific. Commend your sitter for specific things she is doing well, and raise any issues that could stand improvement. Here are some common evaluation areas:
- Punctuality is critical, whether it means your sitter arrives on time so you can get to work accordingly, or that your sitter is mindful of appointments (e.g., soccer practice). Similarly, be respectful of time arrangements and get home when you say you are going to, or call in advance to check in if you anticipate being delayed.
- Interaction -- Does your sitter interact with your children in a positive and creative way? Does she make an effort to understand/ask about their needs and consider activities that are age-appropriate?
- Cleanliness & accidents -- How is your child's cleanliness at the end of the visit? What is the frequency of accidents? Keep an eye on these issues for signs of neglect.
- Communication is key. When you check in with your sitter at the end of the visit, does she recount how the day/evening went? If she looks guilty or is vague on the details, beware.
- Following directions -- Do you feel as if your sitter is following your directions regarding discipline, development, and daily routines? Do you hear later from your older child that the evening, or a situation, went differently than the sitter reported?
- Follow through -- If your sitter expressed a desire to pursue CPR or related certifications, has there been follow through?
- Your child's response speaks countless words. Whether it's a lit up face on arrival, repeated recounting of adventures -- or, unfortunately, the reverse of this -- you will know how the sitter is affecting your child's life.
Your job does not end at the hire. Given that kids grow and change so quickly, it's important that their babysitters adjusts with them. Continued evaluation and open communication will benefit your sitter and family relations enormously.
More Babysitting Resources
Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned parent and writer about parenting issues for Care.com. She is also the editor of BostonMamas.com.
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