As much as we want to be around our kids all the time, sometimes it is best and/or necessary to take some time off to attend to other things going on in our lives that are best accomplished without our little ones in tow. That's where the babysitter comes in.
Every parent will, of course, be wary about leaving their children with a complete stranger—especially for the first time. However, if you do your research beforehand, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. When their services are employed appropriately, babysitters can become your best friends in times of need or when you just need to escape. Here are some tips for finding the best possible babysitter for your kids.
1. Ask for references from friends or family that you know and trust.
This is the easiest way to going about making the first contact. While many people look through classifieds, it’s best to start by getting an idea of how good a babysitter is from the personal experiences of people whom you know.
2. After getting several references, make a list and meet a few individually.
While there doesn't necessarily have to be a formal interview process per se, meeting the babysitters before they take care of your kids is always a good idea. Ask them about their experiences, their skills (don't assume a babysitter knows how to, say, change diapers, for example), and their interests.
3. Let the babysitter meet the kids, too.
Kids are sensitive beings and respond differently to different people. Even if a prospective babysitter seems perfect on paper or in person to you, he or she may not get along with your kids. Observe the babysitter as they interact with your kids and note if there's some instant “chemistry.”
4. Once you've whittled it down to the perfect babysitter, your job isn't quite over. Make your expectations clear before their first stint.
Think hard about what, exactly, you want the babysitter to do and not do while you and your spouse are gone. Make a list of emergency numbers, bed/meal times, etc—this is helpful for both you and the babysitter. She'll know exactly what to do for every given scenario, which will in turn minimize calls made to you when the babysitter isn’t quite sure what to do in a particular situation.
In the final analysis, selecting a babysitter doesn’t need to be an overly complicated process, but it does need to be done thoroughly so you can avoid going through several clueless or irresponsible duds. By doing the selection process right the first time, you'll be able to enjoy your time off without having to worry.