Tips for Hiring a Babysitter
Hiring a babysitter for the first time can be a daunting thing. Leaving your child in the care of another is always going to be difficult, especially in the evenings as bedtime can be a funny time of day for children.
Many parents utilise the services of a local babysitter, often the teenage daughter of a friend of the family, but not everybody can do this. If you don’t know anybody to babysit your children, you may think about using a babysitter agency or looking online using a service such as nannyjob.co.uk’s babysitting section, which is free for parents and childcarers.
Why search for a babysitter online?
Most parents are turning to online ads when searching for a babysitter because it’s cheap, or even free. You also get a wide choice of babysitters and are likely to find someone who lives very local to you. You can also interview many different candidates to find one who suits you, or even two or three regular sitters so you’re not relying on just one person?
What do you need to remember when looking online?
Anyone can advertise themselves as a babysitter online so you need to be careful about checking qualifications and references. You should always meet the babysitter before leaving your children with them and ask to see any childcare or first aid qualifications, a CRB or DBS check and take up references. Remember if you have any concerns you don’t have to hire them!
Why use a nanny or babysitter agency?
When you use a reputable babysitter agency, you can be reassured that the babysitters you’re put in touch with are responsible. Depending on the requirements of the agency you use, they may have extensive childcare experience and relevant qualifications. They may be currently practicing childminders, meaning that they will be Ofsted registered and CRB checked, nursery workers or nannies who have been placed by the agency.
Another great reason to use an agency to find a babysitter is that you are usually able to book months in advance, if needs be. Many agencies will also do their best to meet last-minute needs too (with just four or five hours notice), but booking in advance will give you the best chance of getting the babysitter you want.
How will my children cope with being left with a stranger?
The one disadvantage to using an agency is that it often isn’t practical to arrange a meeting beforehand for your children to get acquainted. However, this can usually be overcome by booking the babysitter to come an hour or so before you plan to go out, and by making your first excursion a short, local one. It will cost a little more but it is a worthwhile investment to know that your children are happy, and to ensure that you can enjoy your evening without worrying.
Babysitters who seek work through agencies often have lots of childcare experience, they will be very capable of putting you and your children at ease. If the children will be in bed before the babysitter arrives, it is advisable to tell them that somebody else will be looking after them should they wake in the night. Some parents choose to book the babysitter to come before bedtime, and have her help with the bedtime routine so that the children are settled well and aware of the babysitter’s presence. If you source your babysitter online you can ask them to come round another time when the children are awake because you only pay for the time you’re using.
Once you have found a local babysitter that you and your children get on with, you will usually be able to continue to book them in advance, although if you use an agency you will still need to go through the agency, so the ‘stranger issue’ will cease to be a problem.
Which is safer?
This is the biggest worry of any parent who is going to use a babysitter. The safety and well being of the children must always be the top priority.
If you find a babysitter yourself you have much more control over who you leave your children with and you can find more than one sitter who will get to know your children. The downside is you need to check their background carefully yourself and relying on one sitter who may have other clients means you aren’t guaranteed a sitter when you need one.
When you use an agency although you may not know the babysitter who arrives at your house, a reputable agency will assure you that they would have been background checked and vetted, with plenty of experience and references. Some babysitters on the agency’s books will likely be CRB checked also, giving you yet another level of reassurance.