I thought that changing poopy diapers was the scariest thing about motherhood but as it turned out, it’s really about doing your research about things you should know about your babysitter. Doing this requires the skills of a detective, journalist, and fortune teller. I can still remember the first time I left my twins home with two nannies and I swear I called every 10 minutes to check if they are okay. I asked some friends about things you should know about your babysitter and I compiled them in the list below.
1. Previous Clients
When looking for a babysitter, it’s best to ask friends and family members if their babysitters are free on the date and time you need a sitter. They will usually tell you who's great with the kids and who eats the food in the fridge. You learn a lot about things you should know about your babysitter from the testimonials of their previous clients, so do your research and ask questions.
2. Full Contact Details
Ask for her mobile phone number, landline number, and email address. These details are usually on her CV but ask nevertheless. You are sending a message that you are taking notes and you don’t just trust her because she flashes a million-dollar smile.
3. Medical History
I always do background checks on my babysitters. Am I overreacting? No. Better safe than sorry. You wouldn’t leave your wallet to a total stranger because it holds precious items like your cards and money. Our children are the most precious jewels of this world so my friend Jenny said, “I require a medical certificate from my babysitter saying that she is healthy and fit to serve as my children’s babysitter.”
4. Criminal Records
I don’t know what else to call this point, perhaps, psychological readiness? But that’s too technical. But you get my point, right? I am of the belief that it’s better to be extra careful than to be caught off guard.
5. Personal References
Did she list any in her CV? Did you call them and ask about her? Don't ever hold back in asking questions. Continue to ask follow up questions if you are not satisfied with the answers. You are leaving your kids with another person and the first step to feeling comfortable that your kids are safe is knowing that some people can actually assure you that your babysitter is a good person.
6. Interactions with Kids
This is what my husband and I do before we leave. In Montana, we hired an 18-year old lady named Vanessa, who was recommended to us by my brother-in-law. We had Vanessa come over an hour before we left so we could observe how she treated our kids. Doing so buys you some time to assess and evaluate her actions in the first few minutes. You would know if she's creepy. Mom and her spider instincts would know.
7. Observance of House Rules
This piece of advice comes from my friend Jane: “My favorite tiramisu was all gone when I went home from work and my babysitter wouldn’t admit that she actually ate it. I was very clear from the get-go that all things covered with foil should not be touched and yet…” And this one does not just apply to tiramisu, if you lose some things in your house while she is around, be ready to take action.
What other things should parents know about their babysitter(s)?