When it comes to date night parents ask, “Who are we going to have watch the kids?”. We have a great list for finding a babysitter that’s right for you!
Finding a Babysitter That’s Right For You
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The number 1 question couples ask themselves when it comes to Date Night is, Who are we going to have watch the kids? For some, finding a babysitter is easy because they live near family, but for those who live away from family, it becomes more and more difficult to find someone to watch your kids. So, how do you go about finding a babysitter that you trust to leave your kids with? We have compiled some great tips to help you in finding a babysitter that you trust and that your kids will love!
Are you Ready Yet?
Before you even start finding a babysitter, you need to make sure you are ready to leave your kids with someone else. This happens at different times for everyone. Personally, I can’t leave my babies before they are 1. There is something about it… I am not sure what, but I feel like they need me and I need them. You are the only one that can decide if you feel okay leaving your kids with others. Perhaps it is the day after you come home from the hospital or maybe it is when they are four. When they are talking, communicating, potty trained, etc. One thing is for sure, there is no “right age” to leave your child.
Think About What You Want
When you are finding a babysitter you need to think about what you want.
Do you want someone with years of experience with babies and toddlers or are you okay with someone who just started babysitting? Perhaps someone who has younger siblings because many of them have years of experience helping out in this case!
If you are leaving the babysitter with 4 kids, have they watched that many kids before?
Do you think a male or female babysitter is best? When we only had boys I would always recruit a boy to babysit because they would always take them outside to play ball with them!
Ask For Recommendations for Babysitters
Asking for recommendations is the key to finding a great babysitter! Ask friends from church or playgroup. If your kids are in school ask moms/ dads during pick up or drop off. Ask people you TRUST. Chances are if these people will trust a babysitter with their kids it is a good lead to finding one for you!
One thing is for sure when asking others, they will also tell you who NOT to hire if they have had a bad experience. Remember, just because someone is recommended does not mean they are a great fit for your family. So, be sure to ask questions and get a feel for your potential babysitter.
Interview/ Chat With Who You Are Thinking About
After you have narrowed down your search for sitters to just a few it is time to chat with them. Talking with a potential babysitter is key to finding a good one! In person is best if possible. Watch the babysitter while you are meeting with them. Are they glued to their phone/ checking the time? This might be a bad choice. You want them to care about your kids! Ask them questions. Get to know them. Find out what they expect from you and ask them what they would do while they are at your home.
What does your potential babysitter bring to the table? Are they CPR certified? Have they taken babysitting courses? Do they know how to change diapers? Has the babysitter had experience with newborns or toddlers? Have they watched multiple kids before? All these are key things to know when finding a babysitter to watch your kids.
When you meet the babysitter are they on time? Being on time is a good indication if they take the job seriously. Nothing is worse than waiting for your sitter to get there when it is time to go out on a date. If they are late this is also a good indication that they are not responsible or they don’t care about the job. In turn, that means they might not pay as much attention as you would like to your child.
How Do They Interact with You and Your Child?
If you are looking for a date night babysitter it might not make sense to set up a meet and greet and interact with your child to see how they act towards one another. But a great thing you can do is have the babysitter come 30 minutes early prior to your first time hiring them.
Or a better option would be to have them come over for a playdate with your child while you are working on a project at home. This allows you to observe from a distance to see how they interact with your child. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with their interaction give it a few more minutes, but then let your mom intuition kick in. If it is not a good fit for you, your child, or the babysitter it is perfectly okay to change your mind after the small interaction time.
After the initial meet and greet occurs, perhaps hire the babysitter for an hour to run a quick errand to see how it goes without you present. If that goes well, continue to extend the time that you are gone.
Find out the availability of your babysitter. If they have a part-time job, go to school and have three other babysitting gigs each week it might be hard for him/ her to watch your kids too! Nothing is more frustrating than finding a babysitter you love, only to find out they are busy everytime you call them! Be sure to find out when they are available! If they are available every other Saturday perhaps it is a good idea to book them for every other Saturday a few months in advance!
What Do the Kids Think?
If your kids are older, talk to them to see what they say about the babysitter. Do they like them? What kinds of things do they do together? Is the babysitter on their phone or interacting with your kids? Asking questions will give you a good indication of what they did and how they spent their time.
If your child is younger it might be harder to get answers to questions about the babysitter. But one sure indication is if your child gets visibly upset with one babysitter over another. This might be a reason to look into why your child is more upset with Suzy rather than Johnny.
Trust Your Gut
Mamas when finding a babysitter always trust your gut. If something seems a little off listen to those feelings. We have an intuition for a reason. Sometimes it is just not a great fit for our child and that is okay. You are entrusting your little ones to someone else and it is 100% okay for you to make sure it is a perfect fit for your kids. Always listen to your gut!
Now that you have gone through the process of finding the right babysitter for your family it is time to Prepare for the Babysitter!
Preparation For the Babysitter
Preparing for the babysitter is your key to success when it comes to a smooth babysitting experience.
Prepare for the babysitter with important information this includes where you will be, important phone numbers (you and your spouse’s numbers, neighbors phone numbers, doctor, etc) Be sure the sitter has access to a phone in case there is an emergency. Let the babysitter know the alarm code just in case it goes off while they are there. Do your children have allergies? If so, what do they do if they have a reaction to something? These are all important things to write down and have available for the babysitter.
It is important to set ground rules when having a babysitter. Not only for the babysitter but for the kids. If the kids are not allowed to watch TV or play video games make sure they are both aware of that.
Setting ground rules are important for the sitter as well. Some great rules are no texting while babysitting, no guests, and no taking the kids anywhere without permission.
Make sure the babysitter is aware of your routine for the kids. If they are putting them to bed be sure they know how to do it, i.e. brush teeth, read 2 stories, get a drink, and then to bed with a song. Or whatever your normal bedtime routine is. Make sure to set everything out before you leave, pajamas, pacifiers, special stuffed animal, etc.
As parents, it is up to you to plan out the meals your kids will eat while you are gone. Be sure to plan enough food for your babysitter to eat as well. If they are ordering pizza be sure to leave plenty of money or order it online and pay for it before you leave. Let the sitter know if the kids can have a snack or dessert and what drinks are okay. Be sure to provide these things for the babysitter. If you expect dinner to be cleaned up when you get home, let the babysitter know that before you leave. Set the expectation.
Does the babysitter drive? If so, be sure they are okay with driving after you get home. If they don’t drive arrange to pick up your sitter prior to leaving. When you return drop them back off at their house.
Leave a list of some fun activities the kids like to do. It is sometimes hard to just jump into a situation of babysitting. So, if the kids like puzzles show the sitter where you keep the puzzles. Get out your kids’ favorite books. If they love a certain toy show them where it is. Giving activity ideas is a great icebreaker for your kids and the babysitter.
Let the Babysitter Know Your Expectations
Nothing is worse than enjoying a great date out with your spouse and coming home to your house looking like a bomb went off in it. If you expect dinner to be out away and the toys to be picked up, let the sitter know up front. Babysitters need to be aware of your expectations prior to you leaving.
There you have it! You are on your way to finding a babysitter and going out on a date with your spouse! So go ahead and plan your next date night and get in the habit of dating again!
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Michele is a Family Life Educator with her degree in marriage and family studies. She is a mom to 5 kids and loves helping others strengthen their families! When she is not blogging she is spending time with her family and running around drinking Diet Coke trying to get everything done!