publication date: Feb 4, 2008
author/source: Anne Coates
Finding a babysitter
Offspring of friends and neighbours are the obvious choice as well as older people who may have more time on their hands and might like to earn some extra cash. Another good source is your friends' au pairs or nannies.
Ask for recommendations from other mums. Be wary of asking someone who is very young. The law is vague in this area - there is no minimum age - but the NSPCC recommends children under 16 should not be used as babysitters.
If you’re thinking of using someone you don’t know, invite her for an informal “interview” when the kids are around - you’ll see how they interact together and you’ll be able to show the sitter where the coffee and tea are kept, how to work the TV and video/dvd player and where the children sleep. This will save you time when you might be in a rush to leave.
Ask for a telephone number of someone she has babysat for - and phone that person for a reference.
Top ten tips:
- Always leave a contact number - if you are going somewhere where your mobile will be turned off, leave the number of a friend or neighbour for use in emergencies.
- Be clear about when you expect the children to be in bed by, where they are allowed to play, whether lights are to be left on in the bedroom or hall.
- Tell the babysitter whether or not you want her to answer the phone or door in your absence. If not take her mobile number to use if necessary.
- Inform her what time you expect to return and phone if you’re held up.
- Leave a snack - babysitters can feel intimidated by a “help yourself to anything” offer.
- Make sure she understands that you don’t expect her to invite friends round.
- Payment should be agreed beforehand. Hourly rates vary around the country so ask your friends what they pay.
- If your children are old enough and were awake when the babysitter came, ask them their impressions. If they really disliked her, think of finding someone else.
- Be wary of babysitters who offer “bribes” of sweets or watching TV especially if this is against your wishes.
- If you regularly use babysitters have a prepared sheet with all relevant information on as well as bedtime routine.