Five Things To Ask Before Choosing A Babysitter

By Nancy Da Silva

With so many more mothers in the workforce, the juggling act between children and career has never been so difficult. We want to be there for our children but we have to be able to provide for them as well. Trying to assuage our own guilt for having to do what’s necessary especially in these stressful times, we want to find the very best caregiver for our child. We want some one who will take care of them in our absence in the same way that we would so that we can do what we have to without feeling that our children are missing out on the affection and attention they need.

In days gone by, the sweet faced girl next door who you watched grow up would be only too glad to baby-sit your child and for next to nothing. It seems though, with all the horror stories in the news that those days may be long gone now. Accidental deaths, abusive behaviour and stories of neglect by babysitters are common place in the media now.

It certainly doesn’t help the guilt most mothers already feel when they hear so many worst case scenarios.

Baby cams, a small hidden video device parents use to record a babysitter’s activities while they are caring for their child, are unfortunately a booming business thanks to these horror stories but are there other ways parents can protect their children from babysitters who are not only under qualified but could pose a serious danger to a child they have trusted this person to take care of?

The first thing parents need to remember is that while there certain are babysitters out there who have no business looking after children, there are babysitters out there who they can trust with the care of their child, who love children and would love the opportunity to babysit a child. Perhaps they are working towards a career in education or to prepare them for when they have kids of their own someday. The fact is, these people are out there. So how do parents go about finding them?

The following are some points designed to help parents on their search for the right babysitter for their child. The things you need to know may vary depending on where you find your babysitter.

References

This one is necessary across the board. Sometimes you will find a sweet faced girl next door who is looking for an opportunity to make some money through babysitting. Chances are if she’s in your neighbourhood she may have babysat for other families you may know. Ask them how they find her babysitting skills and if they would recommend her.

Keep It In The Family

For your own peace of mind, your safest bet is probably to look in your own family for any appropriately aged (at least twelve years old though you may find this a problem because of school) nieces or even nephews if they’re interested in babysitting duty. Check with other family members this child might have sat for and ask if they felt she did a good job. Ask the kids she sat for if they had fun with her, if she paid them enough attention or did she just gave them some toys to play with while she watched tv all day?

Older May Be Better

The main disadvantage of a school age babysitter is just that, school. You could find ways to work around the scheduling conflict but you may find it easier to simply go with someone who’s already completed their schooling or whose school hours fit in with your work hours like in the case of flexible college classes. You can check with hospitals or seniors homes where you’ll find personal support workers who are well versed in working with individuals who cannot look after themselves. They often work few hours and are eager to pick up more employment. On the bulletin boards you’ll probably find many ads from personal support workers offering babysitting services. Ask the doctors, nurses or other institutional staff if they can recommend someone. If you find someone who’s interested ask them if they think they could handle the added work load as chasing after a child is quite different from seeing to the needs of an elderly person.

Daycare

Yes, the point is to find a babysitter to work ideally in your home with your child on a one on one basis but if you visit a daycare you may just find that one of the staff might be looking for some extra work. Ask the people they work with if they think this person works well with kids one on one so that you can feel that your child will get the focused attention he deserves.

Temp Agencies

The key to getting a babysitter from a Temporary Placement Agency is references. You want to talk to other families who this person has worked for to get a feel for if they were happy with the babysitter or if there were any incidents that you need to be warned about. Ask the sitter why they choose to work through a temp agency and if they would be willing to take on a more permanent arrangement. The important thing is stability for your child.  

No matter which method you choose; try and start a dialogue with your potential babysitter about why they are interested in babysitting and what they hope to get out of it and what they think they can offer your child in terms of attention and care. Ask them about the kinds of activities they have planned and if they have any cooking ability. If you can, give your child sometime with this babysitter while you’re present to gauge how they respond to each other and if you think they are a good fit. It’s important to remember that you’re doing this for your child and that if he’s happy, the less likely he’ll feel resentful of you because he’ll know even though you’re not there; by picking the best person to look after him, you’re looking out for him.

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