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Find a Good Babysitter - SmartMom

How to Find a Good Babysitter

I can still remember the first time I left my baby with someone else.  She was eleven months old and my husband and I were going on a much-needed cruise.  I cried from the moment we pulled out of our driveway to the moment we pulled into the port, over 100 miles away.

We would be gone for 120 hours…five days, but every hour absent from her seemed monumental.  She was in great hands with my mother-in-law, but I felt like I was abandoning her.   I was the only one in the world who knew that when my baby girl tugged on her left ear, it meant she wanted her Lovey Bunny.  Only I knew the exact temperature her bottle needed to be and that she had an aversion to the color purple.

Keeping my overzealousness in check, I painfully waited 45 minutes to call and check on her.  To my amazement and chagrin, baby girl was not screaming, but cooing happily for grandma.  I was almost hurt by the fact that she didn’t seem to care I was gone.

However, once I shrugged off my sensitivities, I had a fantastic vacation, grandma got some special one-on-one time with her grandbaby, and everyone was safe and happy.  This experience taught me that not only is it okay to leave little ones with a responsible babysitter, but it is necessary in order to recharge your own battery and strengthen spouse relationships. My daughter is now four years old, and now has a little brother and baby sister.  Needless to say, we have mastered the art of finding a good babysitter.

Leaving your small children with a babysitter can be scary, especially for the first time. Here are a few tips to help you find a good babysitter for your family.

  • Get referrals.  Ask friends and family for babysitters that they trust and employ on a regular basis.  Ask for specifics on what they like about that particular babysitter.
  • Request an application.  Babysitting is a job, so don’t feel strange asking for applications.  Request basic information, previous experience, and references.  This way you can keep a file of sitters you like for quick and easy access.
  • Check references.  Don’t be afraid to call or meet with references listed on the application.  A conversation with another mom about a potential babysitter can tell you more than what is written on paper.
  • Interview potential sitters.  Once you’ve narrowed down a few prospects, interview them over the phone or in person.  Ask about their experience with children and what they would do if certain situations arose, such as choking, injury, discipline, etc.
  • Observe them with children.  The benefit about home interviews is that you can watch candidates interact with your children.  Are they playful?  Comfortable around children?   Observation can help give you that “gut feeling” when it comes to choosing a babysitter.
  • Babysitting training courses.  Look for individuals who have completed babysitter training courses, like this one offered by the American Red Cross.  Many local hospitals and YMCAs offer similar courses that cover child care safety, age-appropriate games, and how to handle emergencies.  Some even offer a 2-year certification in Pediatric First Aid and CPR.

Now that we have three children under the age of four, my husband and I need a regular date night.  Having a file of babysitters we know and trust makes it much easier to enjoy a night out.  If you do your research and put in a little time, you will find someone wonderful that both you and your children will come to love.

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