How to Interview and Hire a Babysitter for Your ChildDianna Graveman |31, December 2011
Hiring the right babysitter for your child takes patience and preparation. Not only does your child need to feel comfortable with the caregiver, but you and your spouse do, too. Whether you are hiring a sitter for occasional use or planning to acquire a nanny for full-time care while you are on the job, interviewing and evaluating candidates for this position are two of the most important tasks you'll experience as a parent.
Start by letting your close friends, trusted coworkers, and family members know you are preparing to interview for the job. You'll likely receive several personal recommendations and never have to turn to the classifieds for help. You'll feel more at ease with your choice, knowing others you respect entrusted their child to the same sitter and have been pleased with the care.
Make sure both parents are available for the interview, if possible. If a spouse cannot be available, ask a trusted friend to attend the interview so you can discuss impressions after the meeting. Not only will you want to ask questions about caregiving experience and methods, but you'll want to observe the sitter's interactions with your child, so make sure your little one is present, too. Prepare questions in advance, and write them down so you don't forget something you want to ask. Examples include:
- Have you had CPR or first aid training? When and where?
- How long have you been a sitter?
- May I have the names and numbers of references?
- Why have you chosen to become a sitter? (Look for reasons other than the desire to simply earn spending money, although a young sitter will probably mention this, too, which is okay.)
- What is the most challenging experience you've had as a sitter? How did you handle it?
For a young sitter: Do you have a parent living close by on whom you can call in case you need help with something? (Of course, the sitter will call you in case of an emergency, but it is good to also have another adult close by who can help before you get there.)
Ask the sitter or nanny if he or she has any questions. A good , prepared candidate will ask if your child has allergies, where you keep first aid supplies, who your closest neighbor is, who your pediatrician is, what your rules for behavior and bedtime are, and what type of discipline (time out, etc.) she should employ, should it be necessary. She might also ask what types of foods and treats are okay for your child and what kinds of games or activities your child enjoys most. If a younger sitter does not ask these questions, it does not mean she will be a poor caregiver; she may just not be as experienced. If you choose to hire her to care for your child, provide a "cheat sheet" with this information the first time she stays with your child. Be sure to also write down your home address (for calls to 9-11 from a cell phone) and the number where you can be reached, as well as the time you expect to return.
Hiring a full-time caregiver or nanny is more involved than hiring a sitter, as he or she will spend prolonged amounts of time with your child and will likely take your child along on errands, outings, or shopping trips during the course of a week. As your child grows older, the nanny or caregiver may be responsible for helping with homework and transporting your child to various practices or to and from school. While you may be tempted to try out a young, inexperienced sitter for an occasional dinner out with your spouse, you will want a full-time caregiver with experience--lots of it. Pay to have a background search for criminal records and bankruptcy. Insist on a review of her driving record, if your child will ride in her car on outings. Ask if she will care for any other children besides yours.
After you've met the candidates, conducted any necessary background searches, and called professional references, take at least a few days before making a decision to discuss your impressions with your spouse or whoever helped you conduct the interviews.
If you have more than one really good candidate, it may be hard to choose. Consider giving each a "trial run" and try to determine with whom you and your child feel most comfortable. And remember: Sitters and nannies move, take others jobs, etc., so it never hurts to keep a few names of dependable caregivers in your file for future needs.
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