Tips from SeekingSitters co-owner Adrienne Kallweit.
As a licensed private investigator, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a thorough background investigation of your sitter. A hands-on investigation by a licensed private investigator is the most thorough way to verify the individual’s past history.
Make sure your sitter is comfortable in all babysitting situations with all ages of children and that he or she has CPR and first aid certifications. It is important for us to not only verify that our sitters have had CPR and first aid, but also keep them current while working through SeekingSitters.
You would be so surprised how few moms and dads actually check references, instead taking a sitters’ word on her level of experience and past work history. We check the references of every single sitter working through our service to verify reliability and trustworthiness.
Level of desire?
What is the sitter’s level of motivation and desire to work with children. You want a sitter who is enthusiastic about what she is doing and will get interactive with the kids.
Is it a family match?
Once you have selected your sitter, have her work with your family before you have made your final selection. Even if a sitter seems great on paper, she may not be a personality match with your family.
Ease the anxiety
Before your sitter arrives at your home, tell your children all about the sitter and, if possible, let them meet her or talk to her on the phone. This will help ease your children’s anxiety about having a sitter. Also, plan some fun activities to save for when the sitter arrives. This will get your children excited about the sitter and get their mind off of mom and dad leaving.
Keep information on hand
Have instructions, contact information and emergency details handy for the sitter to access.
Set clear expectations
This is absolutely the most important factor to having a successful babysitting event. Once your sitter arrives, you need to make sure you let your sitter know what you expect out of the sitting event, what you need from her and what is the best way to provide this.
Don’t forget the trash
When reviewing information about your home and your expectations, don’t forget the small details. (Often it is easy to overlook where the trashcan is located!)
Also be clear about eating
Leave instructions on whether your sitter can eat your family’s food or if the sitter will need to supply her own food.
If this is the first time you will be using a particular sitter, it is OK to stay around and make sure you are comfortable with the sitter. But keep in mind that your children will bond with the sitter more quickly if you are not around.
Cell phones are for emergencies ... and Mom and Dad
It is completely fine to call to check in! Sometimes this is an opportunity to find out how they are doing and even help with any needs, but mostly it will help let you relax about how the children are doing at home with the sitter. Let the sitter know that you might be calling and either keep the cell phone handy or listen for the home telephone.
Follow up with your sitter to see how the evening went and get a full report on activities and bedtime. It will help you determine if the sitter is a good fit for next time.