Wouldn’t it be nice to call on Mary Poppins or the Babysitter Club to look after our precious cherubs? Unfortunately, with the age of social media and the perception that ‘millennial babysitters’ are distracted and neglectful, it’s easy to get anxious about it all.
Choosing the perfect babysitter and leaving our little people with strangers can seem daunting as a single mother. Being the main (and only) decision-maker, you may feel overwhelmed.
Choosing the perfect babysitter involves research, interviewing, and trust in our mothering instincts.
But fear not! With careful planning and considering the six tips below, any anxiety can be reduced. Although we might not be able to obtain a Mary Poppins, we can still find someone to care for our children the way they deserve.
Further reading: Finding a babysitter app you can trust.
6 Tips to find reliable babysitters for your children
1. Be clear about what you want in a babysitter
Before the search begins, know precisely what you want and expect from a babysitter. Clear guidelines keep you focused throughout the exercise. Writing guidelines down also prevents you from making rash decisions when stress and anxiety kick in! Consider writing down your babysitter requirements in the following headings:
- Personal qualities
- Age range
- Personal values
2. Check for babysitter credentials
In Australia, there are several credentials that you can check when hiring a babysitter to ensure they are qualified and safe to look after your children. Here are some ways to check for babysitter credentials:
- Working with Children Check (WWCC): This is a mandatory check for anyone who works with children in Australia. A national criminal history check assesses a person’s suitability to work with children. You can check if a babysitter has a valid WWCC by contacting the relevant government agency in your state or territory.
- First Aid and CPR certification: It’s vital to ensure that your babysitter has current First Aid and CPR certification, as this can be crucial in case of an emergency. You can ask to see their certification or check with the organisation that provided the training.
- Police check: Besides the WWCC, you can request a police check for the babysitter to ensure they have no criminal history. You can obtain a police check by contacting the Australian Federal Police or the police agency in the state or territory where the babysitter resides.
- References and experience: Ask the babysitter for references from previous clients and follow up with them to understand their expertise and professionalism. You can also ask the babysitter for their resume or a summary of their qualifications and experience.
- Online reviews: Check online reviews on websites such as Google, Facebook, or childcare-related directories to see what other parents have said about the babysitter. This can give you an idea of the babysitter’s reliability and professionalism.
- Check for babysitter references: It’s important to ask for references and follow up on them. Contacting the references will help you gain insight into the babysitter’s reliability, trustworthiness, and ability to care for children.
This is especially important if you are considering hiring teenage babysitters.
3. Consider your children’s strengths and weaknesses
The same babysitters might only be the right fit for some kids. Take time to consider the type of person your child would flourish with. Ideally, someone who can help with their other interests and developments. Think:
A more academic babysitter could help your child with homework or assignments.
A sitter that is quite active might play sports out in the yard if your child is more high-energy.
Although it’s not necessarily a requirement, it’s a great way to get bang for your buck.
Further reading: What’s a manny and why all single mums should have one.
4. Arrange a meet-up
Arrange to meet your children’s potential babysitter at a park or public area and see how well they connect and interact with your children. Think:
Is there an immediate positive connection?
Can your potential babysitter show confidence and authority over your children?
This is a great way to check their appearance, punctuality, organisation, attitude, and any other requirements you may have. Plus, it is a safe way to meet the potential babysitter without further commitment if things don’t work out. If they are unwilling to do this, don’t feel guilty about moving on to another potential sitter. I would suggest doing this after you have seen their credentials and references.
If your child has a disability, it may be worth your while contacting relevant disability organisations to see if your child is eligible for some funded care time. You may also ask an NDIS support coordination provider to understand your child’s NDIS plan coverage and connect you to various childcare services available in their network. Although it’s not precisely ‘babysitting time,’ it gives you a break and allows your child to connect with someone who understands their condition.
5. Trust your (fiercely protective single mother) gut
Ultimately your single mother intuition is powerful. Trust your gut when seeking a babysitter.
Credentials and experience mean nothing if there is something that ‘doesn’t seem right’ about them. Don’t be afraid to say no.
A single mother’s gut is usually the strongest guide during the search.
CONCLUSION: Finding reliable babysitters for your children
In conclusion, finding a babysitter can be a challenging and overwhelming task for parents.
However, it is crucial to ensure that the person who will be taking care of your child is trustworthy, experienced, and qualified.
By utilising various resources such as word-of-mouth recommendations, online platforms, and background checks, you will feel more confident in their choice of babysitter. Additionally, open and honest communication with the potential sitter about expectations and responsibilities can create a positive and safe environment for both the child and the caregiver.
Overall, taking the time to thoroughly vet and select a babysitter can provide peace of mind and allow parents to enjoy their time away from their children with confidence.