Many of you, I believe, are stay-at-home-moms. Getting a babysitter might not be a big concern of yours because you might have family near by that is able to help out if needed. But, I think it’s always a good idea to have a back-up, just in case. And eventually, when the baby gets older (right?!) you might want to get out for a date night with your husband or, I don’t know, go to a really fancy grocery store that gives free sample’s of liquor or chocolate covered strawberries or something.
The best way to find a great babysitter is to ask around and get recommendations. This has proven to be effective. Word of mouth is key. Ask your church, your friends, your neighbors. Even if you live in a new place where you don’t know a lot of people, you can still get great referrals.
Now, I have never interviewed a babysitter, but in my experience of being the interviewer and hearing mom’s talk about this, there are a few tips that I recommend for making this interview successful and getting to know your potential sitter.
If you’re meeting a complete stranger for the first time, meet somewhere public and laid back. If you’re bringing your kids (which I would recommend in most cases) keep your location in mind. A park or a place where kids can play will come in handy. I have met so many wonderful families off of craigslist (back in the day when they’re weren’t so many spammers!) that I became close to and ended up watching their kids for a couple years. But, every interview and first time meeting has been at a local coffee shop or downtown gathering. Having a laid back atmosphere makes the conversation and general mood just that-laid back and easy going. This provides natural, easy conversations to flow.
Start off with a general get-to-know-you conversation. Don’t jump in right away with babysitting logistics and traditional interview questions. You’ve got to get to know this person, who they are, and what they’re like outside the “job.” You want to see their personality and get a feel for who they are to see if this is someone you could see getting along with and being good with your children. Ask her about her family, what she likes to do in her free time, etc.
Decide ahead of time what you expect and want out of a babysitter and see if she’ll fit into that description. .Do you want someone that will play outdoors with your kids? Someone who will run around with them, throw the ball with your boys? –> Find out if she likes being outside. What if she refuses to be in the sun? Do you want your babysitter to cook your kids dinner each night? –> Can she cook meals besides macaroni and cheese? Do you want a babysitter that will drive your kids to activities? –> Can she drive? Is she a safe driver? You get the idea. Find out ahead of time if she can do and be all the things you expect.
Don’t be afraid to ask the nitty-gritty questions. Ask your potential babysitter what she would do in case of an emergency. What would happen if such-n-such happened? If you have a strong preference in something you do or don’t want your children doing, ask her what she thinks about that subject, before you tell her your rules on it.
Don’t wait until the end of her babysitting session to talk about how much she expects to be paid. Talk about pay during your interview. You need to find out if you’re on the same page. But I always say, you’ve got to pay the best to get the best!
Watch her with your kids. If you bring your kids, allow some time for your potential babysitter to talk and play with your kids. This is a short time, but it will still give you a feel for how she acts, talks, play’s, and interacts with them which is obviously, extremely important.
No matter what happens, always, under no circumstances, trust your mommy gut. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any reasons to list, if you feel like something is off or just not right, thank the interviewer for her time and never look back.
And enjoy your alone time guilt free!