By Ellen Percival, Publisher, Calgary’s Child Magazine Photo: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Thinkstock
Hiring a babysitter is a welcome break for parents and a great way for young people to make a little spending money – especially if they enjoy caring for children.
Finding a Babysitter That You and the Kids Will Both Be Happy With
What do you do when you need a babysitter and your family is busy and your best friend has plans? Plan ahead for that time and begin your search early. After you’ve found a prospective babysitter, have them watch your children for an hour. This will give you an idea of how well they get along and you’ll be more likely to enjoy a relaxed time away from the children.
Four Easy Steps: it’s simple to find a good sitter if you follow these easy steps:
- Plan ahead for the inevitable time that family and friends are not available to baby-sit. This allows you time to be selective.
- Network. Let your friends, family and neighbors know that you are looking for a babysitter.
- Meet the candidates in person. This will allow you the opportunity to see how they interact with your children.
- Look for someone who has experience and references and/or has taken a reputable babysitting course.
Set the Ground Rules
It’s important that you clearly communicate your expectations.
- Ensure that your children understand that in your absence, the babysitter is in charge.
- Write down and review ground rules with both the babysitter and your kids prior to leaving.
- Make sure you explain clearly any rules that you have for your sitter. For example whether or not guests or personal calls are allowed and what parts of the house are off limits to them and the kids, etc.
Tips for Parents
Once you have found a great sitter, make sure they how much you appreciate them.
- If you have to cancel at the last minute, show that you value their time by paying your sitter a cancellation fee. (One or two hours of pay would be appropriate.)
- Feed your children before the sitter arrives or have food that requires little or no preparation or have take out delivered. Make sure you have snack food on hand for the children as well as your sitter.
- Don’t be late. If you are delayed, call. You sitter will worry if you are late and so will their parents.
- When you get home ask how things went. Were there any concerns or problems?
Former Police Chief Jack Beaton, suggests to keep your children and the sitter safe, you provide the babysitter with the following information.
Take the babysitter on a house tour to discuss things such as:
- How to lock the doors and windows,
- How the burglar alarms work and what could set them off,
- The fire plan,
- The location of and how to use the fire extinguisher and first aid kit, and
- The location of the smoke detectors and flashlight.
- The cross street or description of your house location as well as the address.
Red Cross has a handy downloadable Babysitter’s Checklist with important information about your children, emergency contact and home safety information.
As parents, we know the basic safety tips and crime prevention strategies, but we can always use a refresher. The City of Calgary, St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross, and the YMCA provide babysitting-training courses that also offer valuable information to parents.