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Tips for Choosing a Babysitter

When the time arrives to interview a babysitter, (aka the person you'll trust with your home and children), narrowing down candidates and finding the right fit can be, well, daunting.

After you’ve determined the basic qualifications – and interviewed accordingly – narrow down your favourites using a simple checklist. From experience of the additional duties you require to specific qualifications, your babysitter should be exactly what you need.

Requests References (and more)
Checking references and DBS (CRB) checks are a must during any babysitter hiring process.

Consider the References
When narrowing down the top picks for your carer, consider the conversations you had with the families she listed as references. Are the families the sitter has cared for in the past similar to your family? Are the children of comparable age? Did she have similar duties and responsibilities (baths, cooking dinner, homework help) to those you’d like her to do for your children? As with any job, background is key, so if your prospective babysitter has had experience handling responsibilities that are similar to what she’ll be doing with your family, then it’s likely to be an easy transition for all involved.

Go Over the Interview Questions
Consider the answers you liked best to the questions that matter most to you and your family. We all have standard interviewing questions (availability, experience, age, etc.), but every individual family has its own, unique set of needs, so what are yours? Is it imperative that your children are driven to and from after-school activities? Go back to the answers your candidates gave you about their driving history, punctuality and knowledge of first aid. Do you need someone to prepare meals in your absence? Go over what your top choices said about being comfortable in the kitchen.
While it’s great if a sitter gave a good interview, the one who stands out among the rest will be the care giver who really shined when speaking to you about something near and dear to your heart. You know the one – you love her story about how having the children help her bake her famous chocolate chip cookies is a brilliant way to cheer them up when they’re having separation anxiety, or how she absolutely loved spending afternoons playing football with the children she last looked after.

Evaluate Your Children’s Strengths & Struggles
If you know your child isn’t the strongest swimmer, don’t be afraid to ask a lifeguard-sitter to practice with him a couple of days a week. Are science lessons proving a bit of a problem this year? Hire a chemistry degree student to tutor-sit. She can create science-based games whilst babysitting to get your child back on to the path of scientific success. Choosing a candidate with an academic background (like a teacher in the summer or a private tutor by trade), may be the perfect option for both your child and the sitter.

Do a Child Test
Watch her interact with your children. A good sitter won’t blink an eye at the request for a trial run. Do you like her style? How about her teaching skills; her playfulness? Are you comfortable with the way she disciplines? How do the children connect with the candidate? After all, they’re the ones who will be spending the most time with her, so seeing the child-sitter interaction first hand can be a big help when making your final decision.

Trust Your Gut
There might be a candidate who has a remarkable babysitter CV, fantastic references and perfect answers for all of your interview questions – but something just seems off. You might not be able to put a finger on it, but you don’t need to explain it. Trust your instincts.

In the end, it doesn’t hurt to have any number of great babysitters and back-up sitters in your contact list. If you had three outstanding options, why not ask the two that didn’t quite make the cut if they’re still interested in sitting for you every once in a while? No matter how reliable your new go-to babysitter is, there will be times over the course of her time with you and your family, that she’ll have to let you down at the last minute. Maintaining relationships with sitters that you’ve already vetted and feel comfortable with can be priceless when you’re in need.