Finding a babysitter you can trust and whom your child loves can seem like a daunting task, especially for parents who may not have family or close friends to ask or who live nearby. There are a number of online sites available now to help but where possible, a reference from someone known to us is still usually the best option so ask family, friends, neighbours and other parents at crèche, school or work. In this week’s instalment of our tips for parents series, we explore ways to find and keep a babysitter.
- Advertise by word of mouth and in your local supermarket. Involve your child in the process, explain to them why you need a sitter and how it will be great for all members of the family. Help them to explore what they would want from a sitter. Children from the age of 2 years old and upwards are capable of this.
- Ensure that the person you engage is over 16 years old. While there is no legal rule around this, you need to do everything possible to be sure that you are recruiting someone who will be experienced enough to be responsible and capable in many situations.
- Invite the person over to your home for a play date. Get to know them a little and see how comfortable you and your children are with the sitter.
- If you decide to go ahead, it is advisable to meet their parent if they are under 18 years old. You should ensure their parent is on board with their teen having this role and that they feel s/he is capable of such responsibilities.
- Agree the babysitting fee in advance and also agree if you will collect the sitter and/or drop them home. Always be aware of how a young sitter travels home if you are returning from a late night out. If they are under 18, you have a level of responsibility for the babysitter.
- Leave snacks for the children and sitter, and anticipate anything they may need while you are out. Give them a list of contact numbers. Talk with them in advance about what is expected of them, what rooms they can use, and how to manage any behavioural issues that may arise when you’re not present.
- Ensure your children understand that the babysitter is in charge, will manage behaviour while you’re out as you have outlined, and will also report any issues to you. Also ensure that your child understands to let you know if they have any issues with the sitter.
- Talk with the sitter about first aid, who to contact for emergencies, and if your child has any health or nightmares issues. Talk with them about toileting your child, nappy changing and feeding. Many teens will have no idea of how to carry out these tasks and may not have younger siblings so never assume that they know what to do or how to do it.
- Establish rules and boundaries with the babysitter about if their friends and boy/girlfriends can call over, the use of phones while sitting, and if your children’s friends can call over.
- Be reasonable about the length of time you leave the sitter with your child and the time you are coming home. The babysitter may need to know exactly what time to expect you so their parents can know what time to expect them home. A babysitter is not usually a child minder or childcare professional, so the level of responsibility assumed is less and it should be remembered they are usually capable of offering less.
This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
Coming soon: 10 Ways to Support Your Child’s Sex Education; 10 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating; and 10 Ways to Make the Most of the Playground.
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