The other day I was watching crap TV, "Hot Bench" and one of the cases was about a caregiver and one of the judges said: "sorry to say this but you're just a babysitter". I was offended simply put. Why does that term "just a babysitter" make me hot? Well, as a babysitter you are in charge of a life....a LIFE! That doesn't constitute a "just" title. I believe that if you want quality childcare you need to treat and expect babysitters to be professional. As an owner of a babysitting agency I treat all of my babysitting team as professionals, and I expect them to represent my company in a professional way.
5 Qualities You Should Do to Ensure You Aren't getting "Just a Babysitter"
- Make sure you ask enough questions when interviewing.
Knowing an applicants upbringing can give you insight as to how they might take care of your children. Has it been a stable background, did they have an upbringing that was somewhat questionable, if so; did they learn from some of these experiences.
Ask specific questions about First Aid and CPR like what would they do if there is a blow to the head, or a high fever. Don't just trust that they are certified without asking questions about First Aid and you know what the correct answer is. If they wander around the question they really don't know and you need to consider that.
What do they love about working with children is a really good question, and more than likely you will hear I just love children, but ask again why they love children. You should also ask what they find challenging when working with children because, as we all know, kids are challenging no matter how much we love them. This type of questioning can really give you insight as to if they really do have experience working with children.
2. See how they interact with your children.
Does the candidate seem hesitant with your children or do they seem excited to see them or meet them for the first time? Are they comfortable holding your baby or do they seem scared to hold them? When meeting your children are they inquisitive about the children and try to converse with them in a genuine wa that isn't condescending?
3. Make sure you are on the same page as far as responsibilities.
Don't be afraid to ask for what you want from your babysitter. If you want them to do the morning dishes since you are in a hurry to get out the door, and for them to keep up with the cleanliness of the house during the day tell them. If the babysitter thinks they should just have to take care of the kids without helping out a little then maybe they aren't the professional you want. Childcare ISN'T a maid service but light housekeeping shouldn't be out of the question. When I say this it means loading dishes into the dishwasher, possibly folding laundry while the kids take their nap, feeding the kids and if necessary cook something for them. Be realistic with your expectations and make sure they know them.
4. Follow up with references.
When you check references make sure you make it a point to find out about their dependability. Have they called in sick frequently, have they been frequently late? Your life depends on their ability to be dependable, and show up for work. Being a babysitter anymore isn't what it was when you were a kid. There are a lot more demands and responsibilities to professional childcare, and you need to make sure that the candidate understands that and that is why you pay them more then $10/hour.
5. Evaluate your own needs, and if you really need a professional babysitter or "just a babysitter".
If you have older kids you may not need a professional babysitter especially if you only need them for a date night for a couple of hours, and the kids are 9+ years old. If you need a babysitter that will be driving the kids to activities, helping with homework, or full time then a professional babysitter would be right for you. If you need a consistent caregiver you need a professional babysitter especially if you have toddlers or younger children at home.
When choosing a professional babysitter remember that you need to treat them as a professional and not like a next door neighbor girl that is filling in. A professional babysitter that should be on time, flexible to your schedule, willing to do extra to help you. If they call in sick more then once a month (even that is too much) then they aren't the professional babysitter you need. Sure your kids might like them but it is YOUR job on the line, your friendships, and YOUR life that is being affected by their flakiness. Your kids will more likely take to any babysitter that is friendly and fun. So remember, you're paying the babysitter and they need to answer to you.
Reaching out to an agency is an excellent way to finding professional babysitters. Find an agency you trust, is in it for the right reason and that is really helping families with the care of their children.