Finding the right childcare provider for your family is tough, whether you’re looking for long-term care or a trusted babysitter for a night out. As a member of Care.com and a professional nanny, I know that parents need reliable help without a hassle. Let my experience be your guide.
- Get references. Yes, both personal and professional, and call them! These references will help alleviate your concerns and give you the opportunity to learn more about the caregiver. If you’re having trouble reaching one or more of the references, give your prospective sitter the benefit of the doubt and let them know. I accidentally listed a wrong number once, and it was for an excellent reference.
- Meet up first — without the kids. You need to get a feel for your prospective sitter before they interact with your children. This is safer for you and for your nanny! This isn’t always possible if it’s a last-minute or emergency arrangement, but if you can’t meet in person, insist on personal phone call.
- Run a background check. This step primarily applies to web-based sitters, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Many sitting websites, including Care.com, allow you to run background checks. Use it! I actually pay extra every month for an extensive search for my parents to view. If there’s no background check available, there is probably a reason.
- Schedule a kiddie interview. After you’ve met with the prospective nanny or sitter, schedule a time for them to come to your home to meet with your children while you are present. A trustworthy and reliable sitter will understand. I have no problem budgeting time to hang out with children while the parents are present. This gives me the opportunity to see how the parents interact with and discipline their children.
- Write your rules! If you have strict dos and don’ts, put them in writing. This should include bedtimes, TV and computer rules, snack issues, and discipline guidelines. For infants and toddlers, leave a detailed note that outlines all their routines: snack and bottle times, special toys and blankets, lights on or off, stories, and bedtimes. You can keep a nanny/sitter notebook so that your sitter can log diaper changes, bottle feedings, boo boos, and comments for parents. Sometimes when parents get home there is a mad rush to get the sitter paid and out the door. In that rush, things that happened may not get expressed or are forgotten.
- Follow your heart — and gut. Above all else, listen to your children and to yourself: if your kids don’t warm up to the nanny or sitter, there could be a problem. There’s always an adjustment period, particularly for anxious and young children, and that’s normal. Talk to your children and really listen if they tell you why they don’t like the sitter. If they think their babysitter is mean because they followed the rules, that’s one thing. However, yelling, cursing, sitting on a cell phone, or hitting are all red flags. Follow up with the babysitter, and if you’re not satisfied, let them go!
Me? I am blessed with working for some of the best parents ever, and I love them all. Don’t let one bad sitter ruin your trust in all of them.