Babysitters 101: Finding, paying and prepping your kids for the babysitter!

It’s summer and the kids are ready to get out of the house—and so are the adults! But finding a great babysitter can be as easy as finding a four leaf clover, especially if you have just moved or don’t have any close friends or family around to rely on.

Here are some tips for how to find a babysitter, how to keep one and preparing them for the most important job ever…keeping your kids happy and safe.

When are your children ready for a sitter?
Ha! Um…it’s when you’re ready!. But the sooner the better. It’s actually healthy for children to get comfortable in the care of someone other than a parent. You’ll thank yourselves later.

Where can you find babysitters?|
My favorite way to find a sitter is asking my neighbors…but everyone who has a good sitter knows, keeping his or her identity under wraps is paramount to your social longevity! Alternatively, try these great ideas below.

Many teachers or teachers aids do babysitting on the side. Check with your child’s teacher, or perhaps another on staff, might be willing to do some moonlighting. You already know them, and you know you can trust them. So easy.

Local colleges
Look for a school that has early education majors—that’s a great resource for finding fantastic sitters. Not only will they have a background in education but they will often already have clearance checks. Check with the school and see if they have a physical or online bulletin board where you can place an advertisement.

Teens and adults often volunteer in the nursery program and may be willing to babysit for you.

What questions should you ask potential sitters?
This could possibly be the most important interview of your life. After all, these are the people are you giving complete responsibility over the well-being of your children. Here is a laundry list of questions you may consider asking. Choose the ones most important to you.

  • What experience do you have babysitting or working with children (do they have siblings and/or have they watched children that are not related)?
  • What hours or days are you available? Are you available at the last minute?
  • What ages would you prefer to babysit?
  • Are you experienced in CPR and first aid?
  • Do you have references or clearance checks?
  • Have you had any training? (ie. American Red Cross Babysitting Course)
  • Do you have transportation to and from my house?
  • How much do you charge?
  • Have you had any experiences handling emergencies?
  • What activities would you do with my children?
  • What are your hobbies or special interests?
  • Are you comfortable with pets?
  • How would you handle discipline issues (give examples)?
  • What would you do if there was an emergency?
  • Do you know how to make easy meals, prepare bottles, change diapers?
  • Is there anything I can do to make your babysitting my children easier or a better experience? (You may want to readdress this after they have babysat your child.)

What information should you give a babysitter?

  • Your address, home phone number and emergency numbers (ie. police, fire, doctors, and poison control center)
  • Your cell phone numbers and the name and number of your destination
  • What time you’re expected home
  • Schedules (when the kids eat, go to bed, and when should homework be done)
  • Household rules (ie. tv, computer, what foods children can and can’t have, behavior, areas of the home that are off-limits, and bedtimes)
  • Safety instructions (ie. answering the phone, alarm system instructions, answering the door bell, and where exits are located)
  • Medical Information (children’s allergies or medications that the children take)
  • What situations warrant a call to you or 911
  • What to do in case of an emergency
  • Is there an adult nearby that they can have help in the case of an emergency (a neighbor)
  • What your expectations are of them (do you expect them to have the kids pick up their toys, have the dinner dishes put away, phone use, and whether they can have friends over)

What’s the going rate for a babysitter these days?
How much should you pay? In all honesty, it will vary based on the number of children and other circumstances. It should be an amount that both you and your sitter agree on. has a rate caluclator that you can use to figure out how much babysitters in your area are getting paid. When all else fails, ask your fellow parents what they pay.

How can you prepare your children to stay with a sitter?
If you and/or your children are babysitter-virgins, everyone might feel more comfortable if you have the sitter come visit while you are home so that the children can meet the sitter and get to know them. This will help make your children less anxious when you do leave (not to mention easing parents’ anxiety). It also lets you see how the babysitter interacts with your children.

Remember to also treat your babysitter like a guest of the children and remind your kids to treat them with respect.  Hopefully this information helps finding and using a babysitter more hassle free and gives you a chance to enjoy your time away from your children.

Hey Parents—help out the newbies with your tips on sitters and what the going rate is by commenting below.

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