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What questions should I ask a potential babysitter?
How much they’re expected to be paid, how flexible they are if you’re running late, what their availability is, how they want to be paid (our sitter prefers Venmo), what experience they have with kids and what age, if they have reliable transportation, are they cpr and first aid certified for children, how much they charge for each additional child (if you’re pregnant or planning to have more), how long they are going to stay in the area (the sitter we interviewed was still kind of young and we wanted to make sure she wasn’t planning on moving for school or applying for jobs outside of state anytime soon or we would be going through this process again), if they have ever had to contact a parent about issues with the kid and what happened, if they’ve ever experienced a difficult child and what they did, their views on discipline and if they ever had to discipline a child in their care...
We also have a gun in our house and my husband is a police officer. We verified with her that she did not feel uncomfortable with those circumstances as we understand some people don’t like the police or feel uncomfortable being around guns.
We also informed her of cameras in our home.
There’s a lot of websites out there with great questions to consider asking a sitter. My husband thought I was going overboard with all these questions but it was so important since this was our first time leaving our son!
I am going to flip it and offer some insight on the babysitter's perspective (I was a professional nanny for 10 years & still babysit for several of the families with whom I have relationships.) When I meet new families, the questions I usually ask are:
"Have you ever had a babysitter leave on bad terms? Do you still have relationships with your former caregivers?" Obviously, if you've never had a sitter before then this question isn't relevant.
"If you need to cancel within 24 hours of a set time, are you willing to agree to a cancellation fee?" Because I've blocked off time for families and given up other babysitting jobs on the same date, having a family cancel within 24 hours puts me in a tough spot financially. The families with whom I've had the best relationships have always paid a cancellation fee (usually half of what I would have earned) because they recognize that I depend on the income and cancelling last minute puts me in a bind. Conversely, it is good to discuss a cancellation policy if the babysitter needs to cancel last minute.
"Are there cameras?" If a potential sitter asks this question, you legally have to disclose if there are cameras in the home. The reason I ask is because taking care of little ones can be messy. There was one time when a LO threw up on me and I took my shirt off to put in the wash. I couldn't immediately grab my extra change of clothes from my bag because I was caring for LO, so I was in my sports bra until I was able to get LO settled and go into the bathroom to change clothes. It's situations like this when it is good to know if there is a camera in the house because I wouldn't want to be in a compromising situation and be filmed. In the aforementioned example, if there had been a camera in the home then I would have kept my "vomit shirt" on (reluctantly of course, haha!)
"Should I bring my own dinner or can I snack at your house?" Every family is different. Some families for whom I've worked have ordered takeout for me, some have allowed me to have open access to their pantries (within reason, of course), and others have asked that I bring my own food. It's always good to discuss this with a potential sitter so that there is no confusion down the road.
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