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Choosing the right babysitter can seem like a minefield. Who is the right person for my children? How much should I be paying them? What should I expect from a babysitter? These are just a few of the questions you may be asking yourself.

It goes without saying that as parents, we want to be sure that the babysitter we hire is reliable, trustworthy, and caring. But how do we go about doing this? An interview is a perfect opportunity to get to know your babysitter both personally and professionally.  If you have found a babysitter from a friend or relative, you may not need to interview as extensively, however, even an informal chat can be reassuring and provide the opportunity to set your expectations.

The Basics

How to hire a babysitter with confidence by Annabel Karmel

To ensure you feel comfortable with your prospective babysitter, there are a few essential questions every parent should consider asking before hiring their babysitter:

1) Tell us more about yourself…

First and foremost, you’ll, of course, want to know who you’re welcoming into your home, so don’t be afraid to ask your babysitter a bit about themselves.

What are their hobbies and interests? Are they currently working or at school/university? Do they have any kids of their own? By getting to know your babysitter on a personal level you’ll feel much more comfortable with having them in your home to take care of your child. Being personal will also put your prospective babysitter at ease and create the conditions for a positive relationship from the offset.

2) What childcare experience do you have?

You’ll naturally want to know if your prospective babysitter has any past experience in childcare, whether that be informal or formal. This is your chance to find out some more information about their previous roles and allows you to assess whether they have the experience that you require. For instance, if you’d like your babysitter to do some light cooking, it would be a good idea to see if they have done similar tasks in the past.

You‘ll also be able to find out whether the person you are interviewing has had past experience with child(ren) of the same age as yours. For example, your babysitter will be able to change a nappy more confidently if they have had previous experience with a baby.

3) What are your motivations to be a babysitter?

Your child is at the centre of your world and you, of course, want to ensure that your child is their number one priority when in their care. When speaking to a potential babysitter, ask them why they want the job and what they enjoy about looking after children to gauge their motivation.

4) What is the most important thing when looking after a child?

Do you want someone for your child to bond with and rely on? Do you want someone who your children can play with? Do you want someone who will organise homework, meals, and bedtimes? By finding out what your prospective babysitter feels are the most important things when it comes to looking after children, you’ll soon catch on whether your principles and priorities match up with theirs.

All families are different. However, the babysitter you choose should also be someone who understands that the safety of your child comes first.

Other questions could include:

  • 5) What activities do you enjoy with children?
  • 6) What is your approach to discipline?
  • 7) What do you find most challenging in regards to childcare?

Questions on duties and expectations

How to hire a babysitter with confidence by Annabel Karmel

If you need your babysitter to bathe the children, deal with allergies, or take the dog out into the garden- these are all things your babysitter needs to know. You can ask questions to better understand how comfortable they feel with your expectations, such as:

  1. Do you feel comfortable around large dogs?
  2. Occasionally my child requires an inhaler, is this something you feel comfortable administering?
  3. Are you able to help with homework?
  4. Are you able to help with bathtime or dinnertime?
  5. Are you comfortable with changing nappies?

Questions on hourly rates

How to hire a babysitter with confidence by Annabel Karmel

It will be up to you to negotiate a suitable rate with your babysitter, including whether you will pay for their travel costs. Keep in mind that some babysitters will have a rate up to midnight, and a more expensive rate after midnight. Babysitters with more responsibilities, experience or a large number of children may incur higher rates.

Safety Questions

How to hire a babysitter with confidence by Annabel Karmel

Babysitters are not obliged to have a First Aid or DBS certificate. Most babysitters are young adults, carrying out irregular or occasional childcare and may not have such qualifications. However, there is no harm in asking. If your babysitter is not first aid trained, share with them your expectations of action should there be an emergency. There are lots of useful questions parents can ask to ensure your babysitter is able to effectively deal with an emergency situation. For example:

  1. Have you ever had an emergency situation in the past? How did you deal with it?
  2. What would you do if my child(ren) became seriously unwell or had an accident?

Here are some more tips on how to interview a babysitter:

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