Post by Monica Bogan, Red Cross media relations intern
As a Red Cross-trained babysitter, this is my busiest time of year, since families often reach out to find babysitters during the holiday season. For parents looking for a sitter for holiday celebrations and parties (or a last minute shopping trip!), here are some helpful tips to find a great sitter that fits well with your family.
1. Ask if they have any training
Even if a sitter has experience looking after their siblings like I did, having some sort of childcare training is a huge help. When I was younger, I completed Red Cross Babysitting Training, and now I never walk into a job feeling unprepared. Sitters are trained in situations ranging from how to clean small cuts to giving CPR to even changing diapers. I strongly encourage hiring sitters with this kind of training, especially if you’re searching for something long term or have young children. Online Babysitting Basics and an Advanced Child Care Training (for adults responsible for watching youngsters) are also available.
2. Invite them over for an interview
Unless this is a last-minute situation, invite the sitter over for an interview. It doesn’t have to be long or formal, but this is your chance to see how well your potential sitter connects with your children, and also helps them become more familiar with the house. Make sure to go over things like your family’s emergency preparedness plan and the home’s main exits. If you have younger children, show the sitter areas that are off limits or dangerous, like unlocked cabinets or sharp corners.
3. Don’t feel like you have to constantly check in
It’s a parental instinct to worry about your children, but if you’ve hired a sitter you trust, try not to worry! Calling or texting once or twice is fine, even expected, but hourly updates can keep you from enjoying your night out. Instead, consider coming up with agreement on situations when your babysitter should call or text you instead. For instance, if your little one is extra fussy or refusing dinner, make sure your babysitter knows she can reach out for quick advice.
4. Try to give as much information as possible
Don’t overwhelm your sitter, but usually the more information you can provide them, the better. Give them your contact information and the numbers to the local poison control line, police and an additional local contact in case of emergency; it will give both you and your sitter peace of mind. Explain the sitter’s duties for the evening, whether that includes heating up something simple for dinner, giving kids baths or reading stories before bed. Also, make sure to explain the house rules because…
5. You’re still the boss
It’s a classic kid trick, one I’ve even pulled myself: when a sitter comes over, kids push the rules. They ask to stay up late or want ice cream for dinner because “Mom always lets us do this!” It can be hard to deny these requests or keep kids in their nightly routine if sitters don’t know what the rules are. Is there a cut-off time for TV watching? Can the kids have dessert? Are there chores that need to be done before bed? Let your sitter know the basic rules of the home before you head out for the night.