Finding a babysitter used to be pretty simple. The studious teen from down the street would gladly sacrifice her Friday night to earn some quick cash. And with word of mouth, it was just as easy to book those regular babysitter jobs.
Throw in some pizza money and you were off to enjoy a night on the town!
Times have certainly changed since those days and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This might be because these days our lives are beyond just our neighborhoods. With social media, so much of your community might be further away.
Luckily, there are tons of babysitter websites providing you quality options for childcare. So your biggest issue is just figuring out how to filter the list down.
Besides someone who is safe to leave your children with, what else should you be looking for? If this is your first time searching for a babysitter it can be pretty overwhelming.
Be sure to always check references and have a trial day to complete the process. But during your interview, including these 4 simple questions will help to better highlight the person best for your family.
1. What Has Your Childcare Experience Been Like?
Why you should ask this: No one knows better than a parent how challenging looking after a child can be. But there’s a huge difference in how much attention is required for a 6 month old or 13 year old — and every age in between.
Here’s how you get some firsthand details from their babysitter resume.
If your babysitter candidate is used to older kids who can feed themselves, brush their own teeth and need little bedtime assistance, that might work great for your independent 5 year old.
If you have a chatty 3 year old who would rather bargain for more screen time and insists that mommy gave permission to have a second helping of icecream? Well, you should probably dig a little deeper during the interview.
What to look for: Listen out for childcare experience that looks similar to your family’s makeup. If you have a strong willed, picky eating 4 year old, you will be in better hands with someone who has worked with children ages 2-5.
Red flags: If you hear a lot of negative talk when your babysitter candidate reflects on past families they’ve worked with, take note. Kids can be a challenge but unless those challenges are presented with creative solutions, this might not be the best fit.
2. What Are the Best Rainy Day Games to Play While Babysitting?
Why you should ask this: Here is where you get to see some creativity and assess expectations. If your family has a strict time limit on TV time, mention that. If your candidate wasn’t thinking about what kinds of toddler activities to engage in, they are now.
Can they turn dinner time into a game of restaurant, complete with homemade menus? Will they morph storytime into a live theatre experience? What’s their craft game like? Can they channel their inner Miss Frizzle and whip up a 5 minute science experiment?
A babysitter who has worked to entertain the children they care for will have plenty of fun ideas ready to go. And there are definitely tons of things to do, even for the shortest attention spans.
What to look for: Don’t be alarmed if you hear scary words like “finger painting” and “glitter”. Does the candidate seem excited when explaining different activities? You’ll want to see the enthusiasm because that’s what will make rainy days inside fun for your little ones.
Red flags: If the answer here includes a Backyardigans marathon, this might not be the right sitter for you. You’ll want someone who is fully committed to engaging with the children, not relying on the TV to do the work.
3. How Much Structure Do You Think Is Best in a Day?
Why you should ask this: Seeing how enthusiastically a person answers this question is just as important as the words they use. If someone is very adamant about either end of the spectrum, this reveals a bit about their temperament that could impact the dynamic.
Having a discussion where your candidate walks you through their childcare approach gives you a glimpse on future conversations. Do they seem willing to adapt to the house rules? Will this personality be able to comfort and hold respect from your children?
What to look for: The secret to this question is responding with balance. Every child is different, each responding to boundaries in their own way. Listen for answers that show understanding on what’s negotiable and what’s not.
Red flags: While you want someone who can enforce house rules, you certainly don’t want a person who takes it too far in either direction. If you have someone telling you they have a no nonsense approach or believe hands off is best, you’re chances of having some clashes go up.
4. Have You Ever Had to Handle an Emergency While Babysitting?
Why you should ask this: Technically, you’ll want to follow up here with having them either share an experience or explain how they would handle one. The goal here is to hear how they communicate a stressful scenario.
Have they or would they handle a dangerous situation responsibly? See how prepared they are if an unforeseen emergency is presented.
If you have a solid food eating, babbling and walking baby, they’ll need someone who can be ready for any kind of accident.
What to look for: Aside from an actual emergency plan, you’re looking to see how this topic is approached overall. Though your interview experience will be filled with smiles and lighthearted conversation, this question will require a thoughtful response.
Red flags: If your candidate is not the kind of person who can handle a sick child or knows CPR, these are instant red flags. Above everything else, you’ll want to make sure your person has the knowledge to make on the fly care decisions in your absence.
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