Babysitter & Nanny Do’s and Don’tsBy Child Safety Specialist Nov 15, 2010 | 10:35:00 amPosted in: Child Safety
Whether you’re hiring a babysitter for an occasional date night or someone who cares for your children every day, finding the right person can be stressful and time consuming. The college girl next door who seemed absolutely perfect can become your worst nightmare when you find out she’s spending her time texting her boyfriend, eating all your food and checking out your shoe collection when she’s supposed to be caring for your kids!
Here are a few tips for hiring a great babysitter and making sure they’re doing their job:
Determine the type of babysitter you need – Hiring someone to watch a mature, older child on an occasional night out is different than a sitter required to watch an active toddler during the day. Make a list of everything you need this person to do and the personality style that would work best for you. An older caregiver might have some rigid ideas on discipline that don’t mesh with yours while a younger person might not have enough experience to care for an infant.
Ask for references – Even if they’ve been referred to you, ask for additional references. Some specific questions to ask is about their care-giving style, how well they interact with children, are they neat, etc. If you are hiring a fulltime nanny or babysitter who will be driving your children, be sure you do a criminal and DMV background check.
Make sure they’re qualified –Anyone caring for your child should be certified in CPR and First Aid. And be sure they’ve taken a refresher course if it’s been over two years.
Hold an “audition” –Try out new babysitters before you actually need them. Have one day where he or she comes by to spend some time with the kids in which you can be there and then run out for a few quick errands.
Put it in writing – To avoid any miscommunication, write out a list of your expectations and the rules of the house. This should include what and when the kids are allowed to eat, TV channels and programs they are not permitted to watch, how he or she should handle misbehavior, medication requirements and bedtime routine. You also should write out whether they are allowed to have friends come over, rooms that are off-limits, food that she can and cannot eat from the refrigerator, expectations on cleaning up after meals, rules on talking on the phone, etc. Needless to say if your child is an infant the instructions should be even more detailed. Be sure to stress to only place your baby on her back to sleep in the crib and not putting any blankets, pillows or stuffed animals in the crib to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Also, be clear on payment and benefits. Compensation varies greatly depending on how many children are being watched, the area of the country where you live and the expected job responsibilities. Put time paid off, holiday and car/gas reimbursement arrangements in writing. It will save you a lot of angst in the future.
Plan for emergencies – Review with them your emergency evacuation plans. Where should they go if there is a fire? Is there a neighbor they should contact and do they have that number in case of emergencies? Point out where the fire extinguishers, first aid kit and flashlights are kept. If you have a security system be sure they know what to do if they trip it coming in the door accidentally and that they know how to set it if they’re going out with the kids. IMPORTANT NOTE! If your babysitter has a key to your home or code to the alarm system, be sure to change it if you fire them or they quit.
It is OK to check in - Consider placing cameras or motion detectors in off-limit areas and/or areas where the children will be frequenting such as the kitchen and playroom. Tell the caregiver in advance that the house is being monitored. If they have an issue, that could be a sign that they are not the right fit.
Treat them as you want to be treated - Be courteous and come home when you say you’re going to.
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