Finding a Great Babysitter

Looking forward to going out, but dreading having to find a babysitter? The decision to leave your children in the care of someone else may be nerve racking, but there are steps you can take to ensure that you find a babysitter that you, and your children, trust.  Have no fear, help finding a babysitter is here!

Plan Ahead

Make sure to give yourself enough time to find a babysitter that works best for your family. Start looking for a sitter before you even need one.  If your timeline is a little tighter, try to start your search at least a week in advance. You should also think ahead and decide what qualities you would like your sitter to possess.  Talk with co-workers and friends to see if they recommend anyone. If they do, ask for the babysitters’ phone numbers so that you can set up a meeting with each of the “nominees.”

Set up a Meeting

A phone “interview” can work if needed, but meeting face-to-face with a potential babysitter is best.  If possible, invite the sitter over to spend some time getting to know you and your family. Have your children around while you are talking with the sitter about their interests and observe how the sitter interacts with them. 

The Interview

In order to get the best answers, ask open-ended questions that require more than one word responses.  Pay close attention to the answers and keep in mind that looks aren’t everything and can be deceiving.  Focus on the sitter’s answers and not on the way in which the questions are answered (whether the sitter is shy or confident).

Here are some examples of good questions to ask:

  • What is your previous work experience?
  • Describe a time when you were in a high stress situation and how you handled it. What did you learn from the situation?
  • What are some tactics you have used in the past to get to know a child in your care?
  • What types of disciplinary actions do you take if a child is not following your directions? (If the babysitter directs this question back to you and asks what the rules are in your house and how you would like the situation handled, this is a good sign. It shows the sitter respects how you run your household and intend to follow the rules you have set for your children.)

You will be able to recognize if the babysitter has the characteristics that you, your family and your children desire based on the types of questions you ask.

Rating System

Putting a system in place to rate each answer is a quick and easy way to reach a conclusion.  After each question is answered, grade the response according to what you are looking for in a sitter. On a 0-5 rating scale, 0 would represent “doesn’t meet” and 5, “perfect.” Remember that the answers that are given will reflect who the sitter really is as a person.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when determining an overall rating:

  • Does the sitter think on her toes?
  • Will the sitter play with your children and not just sit them down in front of the TV?
  • Does the sitter seem to be dependent on her cell phone?  Do you think she will spend too much time texting or playing on her phone?
  • Does the sitter understand her job is to be a fill-in for one night and respect your house rules enough to follow them while you’re gone?

How You Know When You’ve Found “The One”

When you’ve decided on a babysitter, you should pay attention to clues that can indicate whether you’ve truly found the right fit for you and your family:

  • Your child talks positively about the sitter and the things they did together while you were gone.
  • The house is left the way you had it or better (your sitter went the extra mile and washed the dishes and picked up the toys, folded blankets, etc).
  • Your sitter is able to give you a good description of what happened that evening.  An attentive sitter will be able to give you a rundown of the evening and answer your questions without hesitation.

When you’ve found that perfect babysitter, make sure you keep her!  If you’re pleased with your sitter’s services, don’t neglect to praise her on social media give her a thank you card or even a tip.  Think of your sitter as an employee.  If she is ever in the situation where she has two jobs to choose from, you want to make sure she feels happy and appreciated enough to choose your family.  Plus, it will encourage your sitter to continue to do a great job and go above and beyond to take the best care of your children.

With a little bit of work, you’ve now found yourself a really great babysitter.  Enjoy your evening out on the town!

Have you been successful in finding the perfect babysitter?  Share your experience here.

Kara Rivera is a Childcare Teacher and Penfield Children’s Center and has been taking care of children with and without special needs professionally for over 15 years.

Kahneman, Daniel.  Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.

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