Picking a babysitter or nanny can drive even the calmest of parents up a wall. The stress level of trying to find a person to trust your children with is enormous. More, you’re going to invite this person to leave them in your home. Many nannies and long-term sitters can become surrogate family so the question is, how do you find someone you can trust?
If you’re hesitant to interview strangers, you can start with friends and family. Network with friends and family who have children to see if they know a good sitter. This gives you the benefit of a personal trusted reference, which can go a long way in providing you peace of mind. You can also ask around your church or other community organizations to see if anyone uses a trusted sitter in your area.
If your personal network search comes up dry, fret not. Sites that cater to parents-seeking-sitters offer a convenient way for parents to find sitters that they can trust. The website SitterCity.com can guide you through the process of finding a sitter or nanny in your area. SitterCity recommends that you begin by posting your job on their site. You’re certainly free to search through their hundreds of profiles of sitters, but most parents are successful when they post a job and wait for responses to roll in.
After receiving responses, it’s suggested that you slim your possible hires down to about ten. From their profiles, you’ll be able to peruse their experience, certifications, and a general feel for each candidate. From this ten, you’ll want to winnow your candidates down to about five. Otherwise, you’ll risk having a very protracted interview process. At 15 minutes per interview, interviewing 10 candidates would take two and a half hours. So, it’s best to chisel down your first group. With the help of reviews posted on SitterCity, you’ll likely find this process to be easier than it sounds.
At this point, Sittercity recommends you check each potential sitter’s background, to make sure it is clean. Many candidates on Sittercity have run a background check and if you’re considering one who has not, you can run one with SitterCity’s partner site, LexisNexis.com. Sittercity provides this service for $9.99 but most parents would agree this is a nominal charge for peace of mind.
Now that you have your five candidates with clean backgrounds, it’s time to schedule interviews. SitterCity also provides an extensive list of interview questions to help you get all the details on whether or not a sitter is right for you. This list ranges from why your potential sitter likes babysitting to whether or not it’s all right if their work night runs late. Also, feel free to include your kids in the interview process. See how your kids and potential sitter interact.
Having interviewed your five favorites, you have probably slimmed the list down to three candidates. At this point, it’s time to check references. Every SitterCity.com babysitter posts at least one reference in their profile. The site also provides useful questions to ask your potential sitter’s references. With this information, you should have all that you need to make an informed, comfortable decision about who to leave your kids with.
Remember, never rush the process. The important thing in selecting a sitter is your peace of mind. You need to be convinced you can trust your children and home with your sitter, so take the time and ask every question. If you have doubts, interview a candidate again. No rush!
Published or updated November 22, 2010.