How to maintain ongoing quality care from your babysitter
You might think that once you've found a great sitter, your job is done. But it's important to continue evaluating the particular needs of your family; things can change. You also need to make sure that your babysitter is providing the quality of care you expect.
To evaluate your situation, choose a timeframe, whether it’s every couple of weeks, every month, or a few times throughout the year, to schedule a "check in” or performance review with your babysitter. This doesn’t have to be a big, formal affair; just touch base and consider whether you and your babysitter are still a good team.
Still looking for help? Start your babysitter search.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few key points you should cover whenever you decide to evaluate your sitter:
Being on time is critical. Consider whether your sitter arrives on time so you can get to work or if she is mindful of appointments (e.g., soccer practice). Similarly, check yourself. Make sure you’re being respectful of her time and that you arrive home on schedule.
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? Also, ask your children how well they’re connecting with the sitter. Do they get excited when she comes over, or has their behavior changed negatively since she started? This is a huge sign that the sitter isn’t a good fit, so pay close attention.
Cleanliness & accidents
While you can’t expect your children or your home to be spotless every time you get home, consider how well your sitter seems to do. Is your child (fairly) clean when you get home? Does he or she have a lot of accidents or diaper rashes? Keep an eye on these issues for signs of neglect. Also check to see if your sitter is keeping the house at least somewhat cleaned (if that was part of your arrangement).
Communication, as they say, is key. When you check in with your sitter at the end of the day or visit, does she recount how the day/evening went? If she looks guilty or is vague on the details, beware. Also ask yourself how well you’re interacting with her; are you being polite or asking questions that encourage her to be open with you.
Do you feel like 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? Also make sure that the original agreement for hours, duties, and other needs are being met the way you expect. Sometimes, it helps to revisit your babysitter contract to refresh the sitter’s memory (and yours).
If your sitter expressed a desire to pursue CPR or related certifications, has she made any progress? This is also a time to evaluate any specific “projects” you’ve started with her, such as potty training or tutoring. See how far your children have come since she started working with them. Also make sure that you’re opening the floor to make sure she’s happy with the way things have been going, or that you’re holding up your end of the agreement.
Never stop checking in
Your job does not end when you hire a babysitter. Kids grow and change quickly, so it's important that their babysitters grow with them. Continued evaluation and open communication will make sure that your kids are getting the best care possible, and that your babysitter is still happy with your family.
If you’re concerned that things aren’t working out with your babysitter, it may be time to let her go.
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.