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How to Choose the Right Babysitter

Updated on June 19, 2013
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Babysitting 101

I started babysitting at around age 13. I am now in my twenties and thinking about what I do when I'm the one looking for the babysitter. Who is right for the job? Were the people in my neighborhood right in trusting a 13 year old kid with their own? I was popular with many parents once I started, and under my care there was never more than the occasional scraped knee or sibling fight, but how did they come to know I was the right one? After talking to a few of the seasoned parents that had hired me way back, I found their responses pretty enlightening.

Out of 4 families I was able to interview about their experience in choosing a babysitter, they all had one thing in common. They knew my parents. They knew the kind of house I was raised in, the majority of them were my neighbors, so they knew who I was. I didn't know it would hold so much weight, but for them it was really important.

Through word of mouth I didn't always babysit for people who knew my family. At that point it was based off of the recommendation of the families that had frequently had me take care of their little ones. Another lady I interviewed said that she was terrified of me when I first walked through the door. I think I was about 14 or 15, and she realized how young I looked and was actually reconsidering their date night. But before they left they felt reassured when I went through my folder with them

The Folder

The folder was something I brought with me to every babysitting gig. I had taken a babysitter safety course, and my mom and I filled a folder with everything important I learned. Even though the babysitters I hire don't usually have one of these, I have one to keep in the house that they fill out.

It holds:

a CPR/Heimlich Maneuver Step by Step Card

911 and Poison Control #s

A How to Use a Fire Extinguisher card

Parent's numbers of the sitter to be given to the family. (If they are younger than 18)

A place for them to write their cell phone numbers down.

A place for the parents of the kids cell numbers/along with other emergency numbers of family members

A place to take notes from the parents on bedtimes, dietary restrictions, etc.

I also had a card that said this "I do not discipline children through any act of physical force. I will not spank your children or discipline them in inappropriate ways. Time-out is the only method I will be willing to use to correct behavior. I will act ethically towards your children at all times and take full responsibility of my actions with them." I signed it and my parents had signed it as well. And all babysitters I use have signed it with their parents before the first time I hire them.

Other Important Things

Once I was hired, there was usually a day where I would spend a few hours with the family getting to know the kids with the parents still there. It helped them see how I was with their kids, and to familiarize me with their home. I do the same thing. I think it helps me a lot when I a new babysitter comes over, because I'm able to get to know them a little better, and able to see how well my kids like them. My kids' opinions matter. I won't leave them with someone they don't like.

The other thing that the interviewees said was that once they started with me, they kept me. Changing babysitters frequently wasn't something they wanted to do. Once they trusted me, it was easier just to keep me. It didn't always work schedule-wise, but it's something I agree with.

Other than that it just takes a little faith. The lessons I learned as a babysitter really helped me in being a better parent, so I know the ones that watch my children will learn extremely valuable lessons as well! And that makes the whole process worth it.

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