Date night for many couples is sadly long overdue. Time, money, creativity can all get in the way, but if you’ve got kids, there’s the extra hurdle of finding someone trustworthy to care for them while you whoop it up. So we compiled some tips to help you find and hire the perfect person. In fact, we suggest you fill a dugout with several sitters. Read all about that here.
1. KNOW WHERE TO LOOK
It may seem impossible, but finding a reliable sitter is possible. Try these 6 ideas…
Ask Family and/or Friends to Babysit. If you battle with feeling guilty about asking loved ones to babysit (as I do), know that they’ve been in your shoes and totally get it. Half of the battle is allowing yourself to ask because, in most cases, grandma and grandpa would love the extra time with junior; and your friends are always down to help too.
Swap Childcare with Another Set of Parents. This is awesome because (1) your kiddo gets a fun play date and/or sleepover; (2) you don’t have to pay for a sitter because it’s a trade.
Look for Parents Night Out Programs. Find area churches and organizations. For example, in my hometown of Orlando, go-to places include Cave of Art, Florida Film Academy, Ft. Gatlin Recreation Complex, Gymnastics USA, My Gym and others.
Ask Other Parents for Connections. Mommy groups on Facebook and MeetUp or the community-focused NextDoor app make it easy to ask for babysitter referrals. I’m a part of an online mommy group and know many members who use each other’s teenage daughters or share sitters and/or recommendations.
Online Agencies. If you’re a fan of online dating, you’ll like Care.com and Sittercity.com which match parents with local sitters. Sitter profiles include credentials, such as CPR certified, and some even have proof of background checks. A friend of mine found her nanny on Care.com and, after a year, I asked her to also start babysitting my son.
Daycare Employees. Some daycare employees moonlight as sitters. I love this option because (1) your child is already comfortable with the person; (2) a background check is already done! My current babysitter is a former teacher from my son’s daycare.
2. KNOW WHAT TO ASK
Interviewing a potential babysitter can feel intimidating but, remember, you are hiring this individual to care for your most precious little ones. Treat the interview as you would any job interview. Here are some sample questions:
- What do you like about babysitting?
- What is your babysitting experience, including age range of children?
- Do you have children?
- What activities do you like doing with kids?
- How do you comfort and/or discipline children? How have you handled tantrums in the past?
- What is your comfort level with driving a child, feeding, bathing, bedtime routines, etc.?
- What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of being a babysitter?
- What was your most difficult babysitting moment? How did you handle the situation?
- Do you have infant/child CPR certifications? And babysitting training classes?
- What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- What do you look for in an employer/family?
- What is your hourly rate? Availability?
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? Do you have proof of a background check?
- Are you okay if a job runs later than planned?
- Can I call your references?
3. KNOW WHAT TO PAY
Teenage sitters typically have less childcare experience and charge a lower hourly rate than college students or adults. Care.com has a Babysitter Calculator which suggests the going rate in your area. Hourly fees for a babysitter can add-up quickly – especially on long date nights – but do you really want to skimp on the compensation provided to the caregiver of your child? Keep ’em happy!
4. KNOW WHAT HAPPENS
Here are some ways to gather info:
Nanny Cam. I have a nanny cam… it’s clearly positioned in the kitchen and by no means hidden. Many daycare centers have cameras, so why not have one in your own home during child care hours.
Kid Feedback. Is your child excited to see the babysitter or frightened? Following a date night, if your child can talk, ask for the scoop with open-ended questions.
Recap Request. Upon your return home, spend five minutes or so asking the babysitter open-ended questions about the evening’s happenings.
Now go book a babysitter for date night!
Nancy DeVault is the managing editor of Date Night Guide and a contributor to publications such as Babble, AmeriDisability Services Magazine and Orlando Magazine. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband and toddler.