You need a night out. Like, right now. You’ve been in mom mode 24-7 for the last — well, you can’t even remember for how long. And now you have a great big shining opportunity to take a night off (or even an entire weekend getaway!). Reservations have been made (at a restaurant that doesn’t hand out a plastic pack of crayons with their menus), and you and your boo are both so excited to spend the evening alone together. But, something’s missing: the sitter. Before making the final selection, you need to know what to ask! Scroll on to find out what questions you need to ask your potential babysitter.
1. What experience do you have? Okay, let’s get even more specific here and go for something like, “What ages of children to you have experience with?” and, “What types of babysitting jobs have you had before?” Taking care of a three-month-old is a completely different ballgame than watching a four-year-old. Along with that, you need to know the scope of her experience to decide whether or not she’s right for your situation. Your co-worker’s teenage daughter may have been a mother’s helper for the past six months, but she may not have actually spent time completely alone with the child.
2. Have you ever changed a diaper? Unless you have a self-changing baby (and really, what parent wouldn’t want that?), your sitter needs to be well-versed in diapering duty. This includes knowing what to do when there’s a code brown explosion and, in some cases, using cloth instead of disposable.
3. What activities do you have planned? The sitter has hours to fill. Hopefully, it’s with something other than the iPad and your Netflix account. Ask the potential sitter what kinds of games, art projects and other activities she typically does with kids. Give her some info on your kiddo’s likes and dislikes, letting the babysitter tell you how she can blend her ideas with what your kids might want to do.
4. Are you comfortable with our bedtime routine? Provide the details. Then, ask if the sitter is all good with absolutely everything you just said — including singing “The Wheels on the Bus” six times in a row.
5. What happens if my child won’t go to bed? Your one-year-old just started walking, and she doesn’t want to stop to sleep. You need to know what your sitter’s plan is for getting a cranky, totally not-ready-for-bed kiddo off to sleep (that is, without calling you for help).
6. What’s your discipline style? Not that your precious little angel will act like anything other than the picture of perfection, but — just in case — you need to know how the sitter will handle it.
7. How late can you stay? A teenage sitter may have a curfew or may not be legally allowed to drive after a certain late-night hour. While an adult sitter won’t have a “curfew,” she may need to go home to her own kids or get to bed at least somewhat early (especially if she has another job during the early morning).
8. What’s the most difficult situation you’ve had while sitting? Grace under pressure. Three little words that need to go through your head as the candidate makes her case and explains how she’s handled the trickiest of times.
9. When is it okay/necessary to call the parents? The answer to this one lets you know if the sitter has emergency know-how and how much she can deal with on her own. The “right” answer depends on your beliefs/needs, but shouldn’t stray too far either way. That said, “Never,” “I don’t know” or, “When I see lots of blood” aren’t ever acceptable answers.
10. Where will your phone be while you’re watching the kids? Um, no mom wants to think of her baby crawling into the kitchen sink cabinet as Stacey sitter is Snapchatting away. But, there may be times when your child’s caregiver needs to have her cell nearby in case of emergency (especially if she’s taking the kids for a stroll or to the park). “Tucked into my pocket,” or, “In my purse nearby” are examples of answers that you want to hear.
11. How often do you post on social media? In reality, the answer probably won’t sway you one way or the other. What this question does do is start a conversation about privacy. If your sitter is constantly on Facebook or Instagram, let her know whether you will or won’t allow her to post pics or comments of your kids while she’s at work.
12. What babysitting-related classes have you taken? Be on the lookout for anything that falls under the child development or early education umbrella, as well as an emergency (such as first aid and CPR) and general babysitting classes.
What is the number one trait you look for in a top-notch babysitter? Share your answer, and tweet us @BritandCo !