Introducing a new babysitter is an event that runs the gamut of emotions. For some kids, it’s an occasion to cheer about. For others, it can stir up nervous energy. Fortunately, we as parents can follow a few basic steps when introducing children to a new sitter, in order to create a positive experience that minimizes stress or negative feelings for everyone. Here are some questions to ask your babysitter in the selection process as well as some helpful suggestions for creating a babysitter routine.
Tips For Parents Getting A Babysitter For The First Time
While transitions from one activity to another are naturally difficult for children, the transition from parent to babysitter can be eased when parents take a few proactive steps to reduce frequently occurring problems. Authors Jim Greenman and Anne Stonehouse describe the “4 Pillars of Security: People, Place, Routine and Ritual,” which help children cope and feel secure in times of uncertainty.
The first impressions children have about meeting and staying with a babysitter will depend on YOU. Even very young children and infants can sense when an adult is anxious or worried and will act accordingly. Therefore, keep the following steps in mind to guide the situation in a positive way.
Questions To Ask Babysitter
1. Feel Confident in your Babysitter Choice
You need to feel calm and confident about leaving the children with the sitter. In order to reduce your anxiety, you may wish to have a phone interview or meet with the sitter in person before introducing her to your children.
Babysitter Interview Questions
- How much do you charge per hour?
- Do you have transportation or will you need a ride?
- What is your availability?
- Are you comfortable with pets?
- Have you babysat before? Can you please tell me about the ages of the children you have previously babysat?
- How many children have you babysat at one time?
- What length of time were you with each family you have worked for?
- Do you have any formal training or certifications CPR and first aid?
- What is your favorite thing about babysitting?
- What are your favorite activities to do with children?
- What is your best memory from your experience as a babysitter?
- What is your least favorite thing about babysitting?
- Have you ever handled an emergency of any kind? What was the emergency and what did you do?
You will also want to let them know about any extra requests you may have or special needs your child may have and discuss those with them. Discuss your expectations (such as not having visitors or lengthy phone calls when they are babysitting).
You may wish to use a service or app that vetts the babysitter qualifications and runs a background check. When using the list of questions to ask your babysitter, definitely trust your gut and make sure you are comfortable with the babysitter before leaving your child alone. You might even want to pay them to babysit for the first time while you get some things done around the house so you can see how it goes.
Introducing A New Babysitter
2. You can engage your children in conversation and curiosity about the new sitter before she arrives, setting a positive tone for the meeting. For example, you might say, “I bet she will want to read your favorite book with you. Let’s set that out.” Or “When she arrives, can you be sure to teach her how to play that new game?”
3. Your child needs to feel important in this process too. Offer a few limited choices to let them know you are thinking of them, such as “Would you rather have cheese pizza or quesadillas with the sitter?” Avoid open-ended questions like, “What do you want for dinner?” as these generally lead to more problems and power struggles.
4. Acknowledge your child’s feelings, but don’t get hooked. Children of all ages like to exert power, but permissiveness is not the way to help them develop autonomy. If your child expresses displeasure or throws a tantrum about having a babysitter, stay calm. Let your child know you understand their feelings through your words and reassuring hugs, yet state calmly that you know “they will be fine.” Rule of thumb: “talk less, not more.”
Help Your Child Feel Confident in The Babysitting Location
5. Your home and belongings are an anchor that help your children feel secure, especially when you are gone. When the sitter arrives, allow adequate time to acquaint her with your home and specific areas which the children use.
6. If appropriate, let your children give a tour, sharing their rooms and special belongings.
Create a Babysitting Routine
7. Create a babysitting routine (greeting, tour, instructions, transitional activity, departure) and allow sufficient time for it to go as smoothly as possible before you leave.
8. As much as possible, maintain consistency in the household routine for your children while you are away and write down specifics for the sitter.
9. “Stick with the program” but make it fun for your kids by adding a special treat. Keep a surprise or two on hand for “sitter moments” like a special meal or snack, bubble bath for bath time, or a new book for bedtime.
10. Talk with the children after the sitter leaves or the next day about the experience. Make this follow-up a natural part of the babysitting routine, just like after a day at school. Your interest will validate that this was an important event.
Create Babysitting Rituals
11. Maintain bedtime rituals as much as possible and set out the supplies ahead of time. Familiarity helps keep the children connected to you when you are away. They reinforce a feeling of calmness and security and children generally enjoy sharing them with someone new.
12. Create your own “exit ritual” after the babysitter arrives. Keep it simple and supportive. The underlying message to convey to your child is, “I know you will be fine.” Don’t get off track if difficulties arise And use redirection and distraction if needed.
Above all else, when leaving your kids in the care of a sitter, be calm and confident. Remember that as a parent, you’ll set the tone for your kids in nearly every situation. As Albert Einstein said, “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” So take a deep breathe, blow kisses and enjoy your grown-up time!
Post was contributed by Jean McPhee, writer for UrbanSitter which allows parents to find babysitters through friends. View sitter availability online and book a sitter in minutes.