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Finding the Right Babysitter

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Let's face it: Parenting is one tough job. Sometimes, mom and dad need a day or night off. Letting someone watch your kids can be scary. That's why it's important that you take all the steps in finding the right babysitter for the whole family. Here is how to do it.

List your requirements

All families have different needs. Are you going to be needing a full-time nanny from when mom and dad are at work, or just an evening babysitter for Friday and Saturday date nights? Before looking for the perfect babysitter, first consider your requirements. How old are your children? Watching an infant takes different skills than keeping an eye on a seven year old kid. Here are some characteristics to consider for your ideal babysitter or nanny:

  • Experience: How long has she or he been watching children for? Some babysitters range from having one year of experience to ten? Tend to the level of experience your family needs.

  • Skills: Is he or she CPR certified or qualified to watch kids with special needs? Determine what level of skills you want the person who will be watching your children to have.

  • Availability: You could find your preferred babysitter, but his or her schedule is not compatible with yours. Be sure to honestly establish what kind of hours you will be needing a sitter.

  • Reliability: The last thing you want is to be left in a pinch because your nanny canceled at the last minute. Before committing fully to a sitter, figure out how reliable she or he is. Ask for references to call before making a decision.

  • Responsibilities: Nannies and babysitters offer different services. Some do extra work around the house like dishes and laundry while others' job description is solely to provide care for your children. Choose accordingly on what responsibilities you want your sitter to have.

  • Accessibility: It's important to take the distance of your babysitter into consideration. Does he or she live an hour away or down the block. This accessibility (or lack there of) can greatly influence babysitting schedules when you factor in commute time, cost of gas and transportation.

  • Rate: Babysitters have different rates dependent on all of the characteristics listed above. Find a sitter with all the characteristics you want and need with a practical rate for your family.

The next step

Now that you know what kind of babysitter you need, the next step is finding one. There are plenty of online services to aid you in finding childcare. Sites like Sittercity or care.com can help you sift through all your options. These sites allow you to search through credible sitters until you find one that suits your family. In addition, you can post jobs and have applicants contact you directly. Sites like these allow you to review profiles, read reviews and even run background checks to ensure safety in an online sphere. After all the research is done, you can set up interviews with multiple candidates to see which sitters may be a good fit.

Make sure your babysitter is fit for the whole family - including pets. The right online childcare site's No. 1 priority is safety for all parties involved. Be sure to use a credible site with extensive precautions like screening and background checks for the ideal and secure care for your family.

Although online sites may be helpful, you aren't limited to sites for your childcare needs. Some families can benefit from finding sitters the old-fashioned way, such as hiring teenagers or young adults in the neighborhood, visiting your local community board for postings or asking other parents in your town for recommendations. Utilizing all of your resources is the best way to finding your preferred sitter.

Things to keep in mind

Remember that childcare has to work both ways. The ideal candidate on paper doesn't always mean he or she will work for your kids, too. Be sure to do test runs with babysitters. Have him or her come over while you're home to see if it's a good fit for everyone. Take your children's opinions and behaviors into consideration. They are the ones who will be watched, after all. If one nanny doesn't fit, keep trying until you find the right one. Keep all applicants' contact information. They can be handy for backup help or coverage when your babysitter is sick or unavailable.

Sometimes, childcare is a lot easier to find than you think. The best babysitters can sometimes be family members like grandparents, aunts and uncles or cousins. For those who are uneasy about leaving your kids in the hands of someone else, choosing a family member to do so may ease your mind. Plus, it's a great opportunity for your children to get quality time and build memories with their loving families members that they'll remember and cherish as they grow older.

 
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