As a busy working parent I love making time for date nights with my husband. We’re big into movies, so we try to get out once a month (sometimes more) without the kids in tow.
Pretty soon my girls will be old enough to stay home on their own, but they still won’t be responsible enough to make a proper dinner or put themselves to bed on time. We still rely on babysitters to keep the girls well cared for.
Related: Raising Girls: I Have A Tween!
We have been very lucky finding sitters for our kids. Our daycare provider had a young daughter when we started there. She was our consistent sitter for almost 6 years, until she went off to college. Then we had to find another.
Here are 5 tips to find your next responsible babysitter:
Search the neighbourhood
For me, a sitter I don’t have to drive home is ideal. Especially when you’re using them to watch your kids for Christmas party nights, or any other time you’re likely to have a few drinks and take a cab home.
My number one tip for finding these close-by kids is to know your neighbours. I realize this isn’t always do-able, but what worked for me was checking out the bus stops in the mornings. I know that might sound a little creepy, but if there’s a friendly kid who is always on time for the bus, that’s a good sign.
Network with your friends
Ask around! Who has young teenaged kids that might be looking to make some cash and play with fun kids? We had the daughter of friend of my husband’s sister watch the girls a few times. I know, confusing relationship to follow, but we had met her a few times and felt she would do a good job.
Use your Clubs and Teams
We spend a ton of time at a dance studio. Emma has danced there since she was 3, and Rose since she was 2.5. We meet a TON of lovely parents there.
You can approach finding a sitter through these communities a few different ways. My suggestions are: ask the other parents (with kids of a similar age to yours) who they have on the back burner for babysitting; or approach the older kids who participate in the club or team if they have time or would be interested in watching your kids.
At the dance school they have “helpers” who are higher level (older) dancers in the young children’s classes. We have had many conversations with these young ladies about hanging out with our girls. None of them came to pass, sadly, because either the girls lived too far away, or they were too busy dancing themselves to have much free time. But I still think these young folk often have qualities you look for in a sitter.
Meet the Parents
It can be tough to determine how trustworthy and responsible kids are. The best way I have found to make an educated decision about hiring a young person to look after your young person is to see their family situation.
We made the decision to move to our current sitter after a lovely in home visit with her and her mom. They invited us over one evening after dinner. Her mom and I had a nice visit, and our sitter took the girls to play in her room – she has a giant collection of barbies!
Consult your Kids
Get your children’s feedback. Ask them how they feel about this new person. If you’ve left them for a trial run, get an opinion from them after the sitter is gone.
In my home we go out in the evenings, so it’s always the next day before I can ask the girls how their night was. It was always “amazing!” with our current sitter. I know she lets them stay up later than I do, but that’s not a deal breaker because we try hard to only go out when there is no school the next day.
Knowing the sitter has a decent family to fall back on is really great feeling. I always tell my sitters that if I’m not reachable and there’s something going on, call your own parents.
Finding your next responsible babysitter doesn’t have a to be a daunting task. (If you’re still at the daycare stage, read my Tips for Finding Care post!)
Do you have tricks of your own to help you decide who to hire as a babysitter? And do you use any of my tips already? Share your wisdom with me in the comments!