Steps to finding a babysitter
Review their qualifications
First thing’s first (and this should go without saying), before anyone takes care of your most cherished little ones, you’ll need to make sure you’ve checked all their references and reviewed their qualifications. This goes double when researching online.
When reviewing babysitter ads, look at their experience in childcare. See if they have worked with children professionally and how many years of babysitting experience they have. Some sitters may have CPR and first aid certifications that can be very useful in an emergency. You may want to ask what ages of children they are most comfortable working with, if they drive a car, and other questions relevant to your family. And once you are going through the process of finding one babysitter, why not also vet a second sitter so you can use them when needed?
Decide on Rates
Ads will often specify rates, so you can quickly select applicants according to your budget. A babysitter with more qualifications and experience may expect a higher rate than newer sitters, of course. Rates can vary widely depending on where you live. You can get a good sense of what is fair by checking with family and friends who have hired babysitters, or by researching what local nanny services charge.
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References, references, references
Once you have found one or two people who you believe have the qualifications you’re looking for, it’s time to carefully check their references. Consider asking the sitter for a list of their three most recent jobs and contact each one. Prepare a list of questions that are important to you. This may include things like: Do they show up on time? How do the children interact with them? Do they have a driver’s license? How often do they cancel and how much notice have they given?
In addition to calling the references you are given, you may want to ask for other references like a community or sporting group, neighbours, or a school – places you can contact on your own and ask to speak to those who know the sitter.
Always meet in person
Of course, whether you find a babysitter online or from a friend, meeting them in person is extremely important. Always choose a public place for your first meeting, and bring a friend along, if you like. Once again, prepare a list of questions. As this is a job interview, you may want to ask them things like: What steps would they take in an emergency? How far do they have to travel to get to you? You may also want to ask them for ID and make note of it. If they have qualifications like CPR training, you can ask to see the original certificate.
Before you invite a sitter to your home to meet your family, consider having a background check done. These kinds of checks can look into their education, employment history, identity and criminal record. Several agencies across Canada offer this service.
Once you are satisfied with the references, the in-person meeting and the background check, perhaps ask the sitter to spend a few hours with your kids as a test-run. Afterwards, ask your children how they feel about the sitter, what they did together, and so on. If everything goes well, you may have found yourself a new babysitter!
Online ads provide you with a wide range of options so you can be selective about who will care for your children. It is important to set aside the time needed to do careful research, contact references provided by the sitter (and those you can locate on your own), interview candidates in person (in a public place), and order a background check, so you and your family will be happy with your choice!