We love spending precious time with our children, but you want and need to get away for a date-night, a wedding, or just a ‘mental health break’. But you can only enjoy your time away if you’ve done your homework and have a trustworthy sitter giving your children an equally enjoyable time too! I’m the preferred sitter for my grandchildren, but I can’t always be there, so they’ve had to find outside help.
Choosing a sitter can be a very intimidating task and there are several aspects to evaluate. Get a list of possible candidates, and start phone screening.
1. Even if the referral is from a friend, follow your gut level feelings during the first phone call. Does she come across as cheerful, friendly, and confident? A babysitter’s most important job is to be a good role model, and if you’re not feeling totally comfortable, move on to the next person.
Call her references, asking behavioral based questions. How do the children feel about her? Does she hug and kiss them? Is she timely, safety-conscious?
Does she live close-by, so if you like her, she’ll be more likely to return? Has she had recent experience with the ages of my children? You don’t even want to bring someone into your home unless they have passed this much screening.
2. When she walks through the door, does she come prepared, with a book or simple activities for older children? Does she get down on the floor to connect with them? Does she ask pertinent questions?
3. Before leaving home, go through the house rules and define any out of bound areas. Jenny, our Family Coordinator, never leaves home without reviewing the Heimlich Maneuver, since she’s personally had so many close calls. Show her how to turn off the water main in case of a busted pipe. Show her where the First Aid Kit is and flashlights in case of a power outage. Leave your cell phone phone numbers plus one or more alternates who live nearby – a neighbor is perfect – as well as your Pediatrician and where you’ll be.
4. After the sitting, do more sleuthing.
What did she do during your absence? Did she bring some creative ideas or crafts that ware age appropriate? A favorite book? Or did they watch TV?
Do the children like her and want her back again? Even an infant can tell you a lot. Was he tense or relaxed? Older children can tell you if she was on her phone or texting.
Was she able to get the children to bed on time without too much trouble with teeth brushed and baths or faces washed?
How did the house look when you walked in?
Did she give you a report of how the evening went including any snags?
5. Find a sitter before you need one. Perhaps you don’t need a sitter right now, but when you do need one, you want to be prepared so you’re not neglecting any steps in the process.
A good sitter is a valuable addition to your family. Getting out and alone for adult conversations strengthens your marriage and gives you a balanced perspective on who you are. We Moms quickly find our significance in our Mothering, but that’s only a part of who we are. Surprisingly, it also gives children immense security when they see you walking out the door hand in hand, even if they fuss a bit the first time.
If you’re in need of a good babysitter, feel free to contact our office. The babysitters we send out on Temp jobs are candidates who we’ve already placed in permanent positions, so we know them well. They have current CPR and First Aid as well as an up to date full background check. They’ve filled out a five-page application, had extensive interview in our office and detailed references checked, which are open for you to peruse. We also have 24/7 phone access for after hours and weekend last minute needs.