When it comes to your children, their safety and well-being is your number one priority. You wish you could watch over them 24/7, of course, but sometimes you have other obligations. Maybe you need to attend a critical video conference uninterrupted or want a night out with your partner. Regardless of the motivation, here are seven traits to look for when selecting a babysitter.
If your conference call with a client in Beijing begins at 8:00 p.m. your time, you can’t have your babysitter ringing the doorbell at 7:59. A quality babysitter will always be prompt.
So how can you evaluate whether your babysitter will show up on time? The best way is to schedule an interview the way you would if you were hiring anyone for any other position. Encourage people to give themselves buffer time, and they won’t show up to your appointment late with an excuse about traffic. If they do, consider a different candidate.
Your babysitter hangs out in your home without you there. They also watch over your most precious family members — your kids. If someone rings the doorbell and states that they need to enter the premises, does your candidate know enough to refuse entry to strangers in your absence?
You might encounter times when your sitter minds a younger child while an older one is out and about with friends. If you keep a key hidden in a secret location, tell your babysitter so that they don’t panic when they hear someone enter. You don’t want them to panic when Suzie returns home from her date.
Experience Working With Children
While you want to give new babysitters a chance to prove their mettle, you also want to select someone with prior experience working with children. Having younger siblings isn’t necessarily enough. Does their parent consider their teenager equipped to deal with emergencies?
If you do choose to go with a less experienced sitter, test the waters with short-term daytime excursions. Feel free to pop in sooner than your anticipated return to see how things are going. Consider finding a night nanny who has the requisite know-how to handle incidents like childhood night terrors for overnight visits.
First Aid and CPR Certification
Here’s a quick hypothetical: Your baby swallows a button. Does your sitter know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on an infant? Accidents can happen at any time, and waiting for first responders to arrive can prove tragic when every second count.
Ensure your sitter has first aid and CPR certification through a respected organization such as the Red Cross. It’s a wise idea for you to brush up on your skills as a parent, too.
Formal Babysitting Training
Traditionally, childcare workers often gained experience on-the-job, but things have thankfully evolved. Now, the best candidates will complete a formal babysitting course before accepting their first assignment.
Candidates with such certifications should know to ask you questions such as, “What is your doctor’s phone number?” and, “Does your child take any medications?” They’ll learn techniques such as how to calm an unruly child without using force and coax a reluctant youngster into eating their veggies.
You may also need to consider other training such as having the proper babysitter for an autistic child.
A Clean Background Check
It’s critical to run a background check on any adult or older teen who will watch your child in your absence. You can find these online, and while you will have to spend some money, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Most of all, don’t overlook your gut instinct. Safety expert Gavin de Becker suggests you ask whether a prospective nanny ever suspected a child in her charge suffered physical or sexual abuse. Your sitter needs to acknowledge harsh realities, and denials such as, “Things like that never happen around here,” should make you question their judgment.
Working with children means dealing with the occasional tantrum. Can you trust your sitter to manage these outbursts without losing their temper?
It’s challenging to evaluate a sitter’s patience in an interview, but one thing you can do is ask to step out of the room to take a call. Have your partner or a friend text you. Wander off to a place where you can see their behavior as they wait. It’s one thing if they play on their phone, but quite another if they grow increasingly angry.
Does Your Babysitter Possess the 7 Qualities Above?
You don’t want to trust your children with an unqualified individual. Looking for the seven traits above in a potential babysitter will help you enjoy peace of mind.