10 Tips for Finding the Perfect Summer Babysitter

Now that summer is quickly approaching, many working parents are in a desperate scramble to find babysitting services for their children.  Below are some tips to consider so that you can find the babysitter that is best for your family.

1. Experience Level.  It is critical to find a babysitter that can handle the needs of your children.  Does the babysitter have previous experience with the number of children you have? If you have an infant, does the babysitter have experience with infants?  Does your child have special health needs that require experience?  Does your child have developmental delays or mental health issues that require some extra experience?  IF your babysitter has not had any previous experience, we recommend that he or she take a babysitting course, which is provided by most hospitals.

2. Reliable Transportation.  If your babysitter will be responsible for transporting your kids to and from activities, the pool, their friend’s homes, etc., make sure that your babysitter has a reliable car, current car insurance and a clean driving record.  Also make sure that you will be able to put car seats and booster seats in the car, according to your state’s laws.

3. Reliable Schedule and Commitment. There is nothing worse for a working parent than to discover that the babysitter they worked so hard to get, now has obligations to another job or is taking vacation for half of the summer.  Make sure your babysitter is committed to you and only you during the times you will need her.  Ask your babysitter about other jobs, vacations, or extended family visits.  Then, be sure to give her the consideration of knowing when you might be taking vacation and won’t need her, so she can plan something for her time off if she wants.

4. First Aid Training. Ask any pediatrician.  The number of child injuries increases in the summer.  Kids are outside on bikes, scooters, skateboards and roller blades.  They are climbing trees, tossing balls, running, swimming, skipping and jumping, all while under the hot, summer sun.  Your babysitter will need to know how to tend to scrapes, bumps, bruises, insect bites, bee stings, and sunburns. If you have a child with medication needs, make sure your babysitter knows how and when to dispense those medications.  This is especially important when working with children who have asthma or diabetes. If your child has severe allergic reactions that require an epi-pen, make sure the babysitter keeps one with her at all times and knows how to use it.

5. Good Swimmer.   If your babysitter will be responsible for watching your children at a pool, make sure that your babysitter enjoys swimming and is a strong enough swimmer to help a child who may be struggling in the water.  Ideally, you may even be able to find a babysitter that is certified as a lifeguard or has some lifeguard experience.

6. Light Meals and Housekeeping.  There’s no denying it.  Kids work up hearty appetites in the summer.  Make sure that the babysitter you hire can do light cooking and cleaning.  If your children have any food allergies or dietary needs, make sure the babysitter knows how to make meals that meet their needs.

7. Structure and Discipline.  Make sure that your babysitter understands and can reinforce your household routines and rules.  Give your babysitter some hypothetical behavioral problems and ask how your babysitter would handle those situations.  Then, let the babysitter know what your expectations are for behavior management while the children are under his or her supervision.  What are the limitations for screen time, snacks, or other activities? If your children are required to do academic work or chores, make sure that your babysitter can make them follow through on expected tasks.

8. Nurturing, Energetic and Fun.  Make sure that your babysitter can keep up with your children in a positive and interactive way.  Like all parents, you will want to be sure that your children are nurtured and well-cared for when you are not home.  Can your babysitter handle your child’s emotional needs?  Are they upbeat?  Do your children need someone who is quiet and artistic or outgoing and athletic?  To have a successful summer experience, it is important to find a good fit between your children’s personalities and the personality of the babysitter.

9. Attentive and Engaged.  The best babysitters are the ones that actively play with and engage your children.  Does your babysitter come with activities and games?  Does he or she bake cookies with the kids or engage them in art projects on rainy days?  Does the babysitter ride bikes or swim with your kids?  If your babysitter is constantly on his or her cell phone texting, surfing the internet, or on Facebook, you may want to reconsider just how well your children are being supervised.  Also, once hired, consider becoming “friends” with them on Facebook to see how active they are on social media forums while they are with your children.

10. Still Unsure? If you are still unsure about whether or not your babysitter will fit the bill for your family, we suggest a “trial run,” so to speak.  Invite the babysitter over to watch your children while you are actually home, but engaged in another activity.  Try to observe or listen in to see how well the babysitter is relating to your children.  Afterward, ask your children what they liked about the babysitter and if there was anything they didn’t like.