How to find the right babysitter

It hit me last month—a little too suddenly—that we were about to lose all of our babysitters! Graduations, moves, study-abroad programs… it all seemed to happen at once. So we’ve been starting a search, and it’s not easy! Ideally we’ll find someone wonderful to come a few afternoons each week, but also a few equally wonderful someones who we can occasionally call on for dates and whatnot. The kids, thank goodness, tend to love every new person who comes through the door and who gives them her full attention! They love babysitters. Over the years, I’ve discovered that finding the right fit between caregiver and parent is often trickier.

I’d love to know, how do you determine whether someone is the right fit?

While the right questions vary from family to family, here are some it might help to ask…

On previous experience… 
How long have you been caring for children?
What is your favorite age to care for? Why?
What was your typical daily routine with your last family?
What were some of the best things about your previous job? The worst?

On caregiving style… 
What are some activities you like to do with children?
How do you handle misbehavior? What are some strategies you’ve used?

On safety… 
Are you trained in CPR? First Aid?
Have you ever had a child care emergency? What happened?

On personal interests… 
Do you play sports, play musical instruments, have any specific hobbies?
What do you like to do in your free time?

On expectations… 
How flexible is your schedule? Would you be available if we occasionally need you to arrive early or stay late?
Are you willing to cook/do light housework/take care of pets/[other task]?
Are there any activities or responsibilities that you can’t or won’t do?
Are you comfortable with [whatever physical demands the children require]?
Is [this compensation] acceptable?
Do you have any questions for us?

Next steps:
Call references. Be sure to ask specifically about any hesitations, as most references tend to be glowing. Are they reliable and punctual? Are they kind and considerate? Ask about the values that matter most to you. Why did the job end? Would they hire them again?

Trust your gut.

How do you find childcare? What questions do you like to ask caregiver? 

P.S. Our first night of babysitting, ever. And a bit about our first date-night routines. (We need to reinstate this!)

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