All You Really Need to Know About Hiring a Babysitter

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Perhaps you’re not looking for a full-time nanny, but still need someone who can watch your children from time to time. A babysitter can provide the perfect option, offering supervisory care for your children on either an occasional or temporary basis. When conducting your babysitter search, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll find babysitters with varying levels of experience and skill sets. Typically, the more experience and special skills a babysitter has, the more her hourly rate will be. The best babysitter for your family is one that has the level of experience you desire, the skill set you desire, and is within your child care budget.

During high school, many students begin taking on after school jobs as babysitters.  While high school babysitters typically have limited childcare experience (unless of course they’re an older sibling in a large family or have extensive babysitting experience), they tend to enjoy being around children and view babysitting as a great way to earn extra money. High school babysitters may be great for families who need afterschool care or for parents who need a responsible person to watch their children for short amounts of time. How much responsibility you give a high school babysitter will depend on her level of maturity and her experience. If you find a high school babysitter you like, encourage her to take a babysitting course from the American Red Cross.

College students interested in early childhood education often look to gain experience working with children through babysitting. For college sitters, babysitting not only serves as a great alternative to working a campus job, but can also provide for a wide range of child related experiences, as babysitters typically work for several families. College sitters will typically be more mature than high school babysitters and may have more babysitting experience.  College sitters also may have more developed skill sets. A college sitter who has an interest in education could be perfect for helping your children with homework. A college sitter who plays an instrument or sport that your child is interested in could enhance the time they spend together.

It’s not uncommon for a nanny to take on evening and weekend babysitting jobs to supplement her income. Nanny sitters typically have extensive child care experience and a working knowledge of child development. Nanny sitters typically charge a higher hourly rate than high school or college sitters, but may be better suited to provide intense care.    

Many parents prefer to outsource their childcare to friends and family. Leaving their children with friends or family typically brings a sense of comfort to parents because they already have an established relationship with the childcare provider. When having friends or family care for your children, it is especially important to clarify the expectations of both the sitter and parent when it comes to duties, responsibilities and pay.

For parents who just need an extra set of hands, a mother’s helper may be a suitable choice. Typically middle or high school students, or an individual looking to gain more child care experience, mother’s helpers assist the parents caring for children while the parents are in the home. Unlike a babysitter, a mother’s helper works with supervision and isn’t left to care for the children alone.

Regardless of the type of babysitter you choose, there are a few minimum requirements all childcare providers should meet. In addition to being a trustworthy person with good references and a personality you appreciate, your babysitter should be safety conscious, have first-aid and CPR certifications, and have a clean background check.

It’s also a good idea for parents to have a pool of pre-screened babysitters to call on when the need for childcare arises. Quality babysitters tend to be in demand and book their schedules weeks in advance. Having a pool of caregivers that you trust can ensure that you secure quality care when you need it.

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