Whether you’re a stay-at-home mother/father or you’re busy trying to support the family and have a full-time job, there will be times you’ll need someone to stay with your kids and take proper care of them while you’re handling your business. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child. And, what if you have more than one?
For that reason, there’re different types of babysitters that will meet your special needs and requirements. Your choice depends on what kind of help you need, your budget, how many children you have and their age, amount of time a babysitter has to supervise your kids. So, let’s figure that out.
1. Additional helper
Even stay-at-home parents need some alone time. Especially if you have several kids running around the house and screaming your name, demanding your presence each second, so that you can’t even go to the bathroom without someone standing at the door and begging you to come out right now. Besides, you still have to do all the house chores, cook, wash clothes and all that boring stuff, which, unfortunately, also takes time and effort. Running errands with children is so hectic and crazy that it’s better to leave them at home and get everything done quickly and without having to deal with store meltdowns, runaways and screams.
It gets even harder if you’re working from home and have to be on a business call or do some work-related stuff when your kids are causing trouble and behave just insane.
That’s when you’ll need a helper, who’ll entertain your kids or supervise them while you’re busy doing something around the house. This way you’re still in charge and you get to see, what your kids are up to, control their actions and babysitter’s work. But, you helper will keep your little ones occupied and distracted during good 3-4 hours, letting you get everything done.
It’s usually a teenager or a college student, who can come to your house several times a week and relive you from child care, allowing to spend some quality time with your other half, go shopping or complete the work-related tasks. Besides, it will be easier for your kids to get used to that person, as they won’t think of her/him as of a babysitter, but a playing buddy, as a sitter will be closer to their age.
But if you’re going to trust a babysitter to stay with kids while you’re not at home, especially if that includes feeding, bathing and putting into bed, then make sure that the person you’re hiring is mature enough to do those things properly and that you can really trust and rely on her, despite the young age.
2. Full-time babysitter – a nanny
It’s a great solution for parents, who have a full-time job and even the ones, who work from home. As, no matter how convenient it may seem in the beginning, it appears to be really difficult to balance and delimitate the time you spend on work and kids. It’s almost impossible to combine those two, as even a simple task such as sending an e-mail or being on a business call will take much longer. As a result, you won’t be able to devote much time to kids and be productive and efficient work-wise. Hiring a nanny allows you to do your job decently without worrying about kids’ troubles and needs.
Nannies are professionals in child’s care, so they will keep your kids fed and entertained, provide interesting educational activities, work on their behavior and discipline, help them with homework and after-school activities. They’ll stick to the established schedule and put your little monkeys for a nap or to bed just in time.
These sitters are really involved into children’s lives, as they spend longer periods of time with them, participate and contribute to their education and personal development. Some nannies even agree to travel with families and take care of kids on vacations or business trips. If everything goes smooth, they often become parents’ and kids’ friends for a lifetime.
3. Part-time nanny
If your kids are older and they already go to school, you might need someone to stay with them, cook, help them do their homework or take them to the after-class activities (dance, sports, etc.) during that time gap, when you’re not back from work yet, but your kids are already free from school. Maybe, you want someone to supervise the kids on their school break during the whole day while you’re at work.
In this case, you don’t really want to hire a full-time nanny, but still a professional, who’ll do the listed above things. Babysitters aren’t suitable for those tasks, as you want someone, who’ll be involved in kid’s lives and will guide them, but not just make sure, they’re not causing trouble while you’re absent. So it’s better to find a good part-time nanny, who’ll agree with your schedule and needs.
How to hire a babysitter you’re comfortable with
As you’ve already decided on which of these babysitters you need in your life, let’s proceed to the most difficult task – hiring a sitter you may really trust, who’ll be a positive role-model and who your children will bond with. Here’re 5 basic steps to hire a babysitter.
1. Searching for candidates
Ask your friends, family or neighbors for recommendations. Maybe, they had an awesome experience with their nanny or may offer you a company to hire from.
Look through the ads on Internet. For instance, HireRush.com provides quite a lot of ads of babysitters, who have different qualifications, experience and may provide various services. Here you may choose the ones you liked the most and get the contact information.
Make sure that you pick several prospective candidates that meet your requirements and agree to do all kinds of tasks you want her to be able to do and may stay with your kids as long as you need (some sitters don’t stay overnight, or on the weekends, some don’t cook).
Meet the future nannies personally and ask them about their qualification, general personal information (like age, education, etc.) and the previous babysitting experience. Tell him/her about your kids, their age and needs, medical conditions and schedule.
Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you have to. Obviously, you need to know:
- how many years she/he has been doing this job
- how many hours a week she is available or if she can stay with your kids throughout the whole day and even overnight if needed
- if the candidate went through the professional training and first aid courses
- if she can babysit several kids at once and if she has ever done that before
- the age of children she’s previously worked with
Inform your babysitter about your child’s medical conditions, allergies or special needs if he/she has them. Ask a candidate if she’s familiar with these cases and knows how to work with such kids. It’s also important to give examples of stressful and difficult situations the babysitter may face and ask her/him how she would handle them.
Check the babysitters’ initiative and her/his desire to work with kids and bond with them. If you have older kids, ask the candidate about the ability to be involved in their education and personal development.
Examine nanny’s references. If you have a chance, talk to her previous employers and ask them about her work, strong and weak sides and their general attitude to that person.
Talk about the salary.
3. Honest feelings
When you’ve narrowed down the list of potential nannies to 2-3 names, get them to know better and introduce them to your kids. See, how they interact and bond, as your child’s feelings and preferences are the most important in this case. Your kids have to like the person and be comfortable with him/her.
Besides, you have to trust the babysitter, share the views on raising children and like her as a person, who can be reliable, honest, funny, responsible and patient. You have to be completely confident about your choice, otherwise you won’t be able to leave your kids with the person you’ve just hired. Even if you can’t explain, why you didn’t like the candidate, it’s important to trust your intuition and say “no” when you have to.
Basically, you have to be sure that this relationship is comfortable for all the sides involved.
4. Lots of information.
When you’ve chosen the best option for your family and decided to hire a person as a babysitter for your kids, it’s necessary to provide him/her with all the information. That includes: your home and work address and contact information, full names of the members of your closest family, your child’s character and habits, personal needs, medical conditions (like if she has to provide different education activities, homework help; pick up a child from preschool or school, take him to after-class activities, go to doctor’s appointments).
Tell the sitter where you keep a first-aid kit, spare keys, cleaning supplies, etc. and give her a house tour. Agree on the time when you’ll leave and come home and when your babysitter’s working day will end.
Provide a sitter with your kids’ doctor’s name, phone number and clinic’s address.
5. The rules
Discuss the schedule of each kid, if they can watch TV or use other technology and for how long, what they’re allowed to eat and how you want her to dress the kids. Tell her about the bedtime routine, kids’ duties and school activities. Decide if she’s going to participate in their education. Set house rules. Agree on the time when you’re going to call to check in with your nanny and get updates about your children.
Ask your babysitter to come 15-30 minutes earlier than you leave so that you could talk to her and discuss the schedule or other things you need. Always tell her where you’re going and give her a backup contact number in case you’re unavailable at the moment she tries to reach you.
When you come home, ask your kids and nanny about their day in detail: what they did, what books they read and what they watched, if they went for a walk or stayed at home, what grades they got at school, etc. Always ask for babysitter’s and children’s views on the day. Make sure to ask your kids if a babysitter did something that made them feel uncomfortable or sad.
And, remember: you don’t have to feel guilty if you hire a nanny even if you spend most of your time at home. You’re not automatically becoming a bad parent, who can’t cope with his own children. You just want to get everything done around the house or work-wise, still have a personal life and spend quality time with your children without having to think of anything else.