If you haven’t already, chances are you’re going to need a qualified babysitter who can step in and watch your kids at some point this summer. I’ve found that working with a babysitter is great for my kids and me. I get a much-needed break, and it’s enriching for them to work with someone with a new perspective, a different kind of creativity, and new ideas.
Of course, you’ll want to properly vet anyone that will be caring for your kids. They need to be knowledgeable about safety while also being kind and nurturing. As you begin your search, here’s a quick checklist of the most important factors to consider.
Are they CPR-certified? When you’re searching for the right babysitter for your family, the first thing to look for is someone who is CPR certified. In its article on what to look for in a babysitter, Care.com indicates that having CPR and first aid training is a good indicator that the candidate is “safety-conscious.” I recommend making this a mandatory requirement for anyone who sits for your kids. It is a vital skill, especially if your sitter will be taking your kids swimming this summer.
Are they pool-ready? Whether you have a backyard pool or your sitter will be taking the kids to a neighbor’s pool or the community pool, it is crucial that you make sure they know how to keep your kids safe around the water. To educate your babysitter more specifically on pool safety, a great place to start is this article on pool party safety. It provides excellent pool-specific advice that any parent will want a sitter to have. For example, it explains what steps one needs to take as the “acting” lifeguard and what safety equipment to check and have on hand.
Have they been recommended by a friend or neighbor? We rely on recommendations from friends (and sometimes even strangers!) on the places we eat and events we attend so why not do the same with a potential babysitter? WAHM.com describes qualities to look for in a babysitter. It recommends treating the process of finding a sitter like a business might treat hiring a new employee. In the same way that a company asks for an employee’s references, ask for references from your babysitting candidate.
How responsible are they? Hudson Valley Parent recommends finding out how responsible your babysitter is. There are a couple of ways to do this. One option is to have your babysitter come over to watch your kids while you’re still home. Have them play and watch the kids while you take care of other things around the house. Check in every now and then to see how things are going. As the article notes, if you’re constantly seeing the sitter checking their phone they aren’t giving your kids their full attention and aren’t the right person for the job. Another option is to do a test run. Have the sitter watch your kids, but ask them to check in with you at certain times. If they remember to do so, then that could indicate that they’re responsible enough for the job.
Are they willing to follow your rules? Before you leave your child in a sitter’s care, you’ll want to be sure they are aware of essential safety rules and always follow them. KidsHealth.org provides an overview of rules to consider. If you find out that your babysitter is neglecting to follow these rules, it’s time to find someone else.
Finding the right babysitter for your family may take time. But the hard work will be worth it. You’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that your kids are well taken care of and safe when you can’t be there to look after them.
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Lindsay M writes for PublicHealthCorps. She also has many other passions - like cooking, biking and photography. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of twin girls.