Choosing a babysitter can be a pretty daunting task. after all, you are trusting a stranger with the most important thing in your life! How do you know you’ll make the right choice? How can you tell if they will love your children at least as much as you do? Or at the very least, care for them with the same dedication? Well, it’s not easy, but here are some tips that might lead you in the right direction.

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1. Get all of the references

The best way to find potential babysitters is by asking your friends, family and acquaintances to refer you to someone. Job boards, ads and listings are good too, but make sure whoever you are looking to hire has enough references for you to be satisfied. Call those references and be thorough with your questions. How long did the sitter work for them? Why did they leave? What are their strengths? Could they improve on something? How are their communication skills? Any tips for managing them? Any and all questions are valid, this is for your peace of mind.

2. Ask the right questions

When interviewing potential candidates, whether it is over the phone or in person, you should ask the right questions to really get to know them. After you are done writing down the common interview questions, consider asking some of these: “What do you know about this neighborhood?” If they are familiar with the area, that means, less time showing them around. And they might have insight on fun activities for the kids! “What’s your five year plan?” As stuffy as that question is, it will tell you if they are a right fit for your family. Are they doing this for a few months or is it a lifelong career? “How do you get along with your parents?” While it’s not decisive, their¬†family dynamics shaped who they are, and it might affect how they relate to your kids. “Can I visit your home?” Learning how someone lives tells you a lot about themselves. This is when you’ll really see if they are as neat and tidy as they told you.

3. Do a trial run

It’s important that you invite a candidate over while you are at home, so you can see how they interact with the kids and see if they “click” or if you are comfortable with the way they communicate. You can invite them over for dinner to introduce them to the whole family (and watch your children’s reactions) and then have them come over for a week or two to work while you are there watching. Ask your children how they feel about the sitter.

4. Trust your gut

In the end, you need to be comfortable with this new person and if there’s something that doesn’t “feel” right, than it’s time to move on. There’s plenty of sitters in the sea.