Hiring the right babysitter for your family

Working parents everywhere will be making childcare arrangements for the summer holidays. Some parents are lucky enough to have extended family members to help out while kids are off school. Some will be signing their kids up for a variety summer camps, while others will be hiring students to provide daycare. In some cases, older children may be expected to watch younger siblings while parents are at work. What is the right babysitting solution for your family?

Having an older child to babysit younger siblings can be a very convenient and probably more economical solution for the family. Parents can go off to work without having to worry about waking up their children and getting them ready in the morning. Convenient maybe, but this arrangement can cause a number of problems for the whole family.

Younger siblings often have a hard time listening to older brothers and sisters, particularly if they are fairly close in age. They may not accept brothers or sisters as an authority figure. Younger children are often less compliant and more disobedient with brothers and sisters. Older siblings may feel resentful being forced by parents to look after the younger ones. Siblings are more likely to argue with each other and fight physically causing parents to worry throughout the day. This can add tension and strain to the family dynamic that can have a long term effect on everyone. The additional stress and worry are unhealthy for parents and their children so hiring an unrelated babysitter may be a better solution. Here are some tips to help families find the right babysitter.

When hiring a babysitter, ask for a resume, interview the applicant and check references thoroughly. Ask friends, family and neighbours to recommend a good and reliable babysitter. If no recommendations are available, consider approaching one of the local colleges or high schools to see if any students taking Early Childcare Education courses are interested in summer employment. Ask for a reference from a teacher or school administrator.

Look for a sitter who has had experience and enjoys being with children. During your interview, ask the candidate about their interests and how they plan to keep your kids occupied. Do they share similar interests with your children, like sports, collections or hobbies? Sitters with similar interests will likely be more compatible and have lots of activities planned to keep your children active, busy and away from the TV and other electronic devices.

Babysitters should have completed a babysitting course and hold a current first aid certification. Verify that any certifications are current as first aid knowledge and skills are easily forgotten if not used. Sitters should also obtain and provide proof of a police check with vulnerable sector screening. Anyone working with children should have a police check.

Use social media to help you gather background information on a possible sitter. An internet search by name or a Facebook search by email address, for example, may reveal details about the candidate’s public image to help you select the right person. Employers often use social media along with reference checks to determine if a candidate is the right fit for their company.

Age and maturity are factors when making your hiring decision. A full time summer sitter should be at least 16 years of age, be mature and responsible and have good common sense. Ask “what if” scenario questions to see how the candidate would respond in certain situations.

Once you think you have found a suitable babysitter, try her or him out first by hiring the candidate to watch your kids a few times while you go out shopping or for dinner. Make sure to ask your children what they did with the sitter and what they thought of him/her. Their opinion and feedback will be important factors in helping you select the right individual.

An unrelated babysitter is more likely to be accepted as the authority figure and can probably maintain order and respect better than older siblings. Involve your children to select the right sitter. Parents want to feel confident that their children are happy and being well cared for by a responsible and reliable person in their absence. This will ensure peace of mind throughout the entire summer.

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