According to a recent study, over a third of all parents surveyed hire a babysitter once a week or more. I fall into that category. Between monthly date night outings with hubs and being a work-from-home mom who homeschools, I just can’t do it alone.
I know there are others out there who feel the same. You want to escape somewhere romantic with your main squeeze, or you have to make it to an important school conference or business meeting. Oh gosh, and for single parents, I can’t even begin to imagine.
What to know a secret? My kiddo was several years old before he had his first non-family babysitter. I was petrified because I didn’t know how to vet a sitter and I didn’t know how to find a good one…Now, it’s old hat. The kids and I are BOTH pros at this sitter thing, and we want to make it easy for you. Here are some tips and tricks to help you find a babysitter, vet them, and prep for your outing with panache.
This article is presented to you in partnership with UrbanSitter. Sign up now to claim a free $75 credit to use toward your first sitter or nanny by September 30th.
How do I find a babysitter?
The very best way to find the ideal sitter is to tap into your own circles. Talk to the people you know and trust. There is a small chance they might not be willing to share (Don’t even ask for my sitter’s name because if she’s available, I need her!) or their needs and/or standards might be different from yours…but, this is still the best place to start.
Friends and family kid swap. Have a neighbor with kiddos about the same age? Maybe a sibling or cousin in the area? Consider a kid swap each month. You watch their kiddos one night a month, and they watch your kiddos one night a month. It’s free, the kids get time with playmates, and they’ll grow to appreciate the consistency.
Community parenting or church groups. Is there a community parenting group you enjoy (like MOPS,) a cub scout or brownies group your kids are involved in, or a church you belong to? Ask around about who they use for sitters.
Ask people who have watched your kids before. Sometimes we don’t realize that we have entrusted our kiddos to others before, like summer camp counselors, tutoring helpers, karate assistants, etc. These young adults might be looking for some extra cash, and you know your kids already adore them. Just ask!
Throw out the question on social media. New parents or parents new to the area might not have these resources available, so post your question on Facebook. You might find that trusted friends have teens looking for work or sitters they are willing to share with you.
Ask for resources from the local YMCA or neighborhood CPR-training chapter. Consider other community sources that you might not be directly involved with like the local YMCA or a CPR training center near you. Sometimes these places have message boards (literal boards or boards on the Internet) that can help you find a trusted sitter.
What about babysitting services?
If you’ve reached your wits end and still can’t find a sitter – or, if like me, you just don’t have TIME for all of that networking, then consider a service…in fact, consider a service that will do all of that networking for you.
I want to tell you about a reliable service that has finally made its way to Atlanta. UrbanSitter. This service is unique because it puts recommendations from your personal and community circles right at your fingertips!
UrbanSitter allows you to discover the babysitters and nannies most trusted by your community. On-demand. With trusted recommendations and reviews from parenting groups, school groups and sports teams in your community, you now have the most powerful child care search available at your fingertips. Finding, booking and paying sitters can be done with a tap, so get ready to say “yes” to anything that comes up.
7 more reasons we believe UrbanSitter is ideal
Post a job and search for free– Whether you’re looking for occasional, last minute, part- or full-time help, UrbanSitter has a solution. What I love? You don’t pay them until you’ve found a match! Easy-peasy, with minimal risk. After you know how great word-of-mouth sourcing can be, you can pick the plan that works for you.
Get paid to try it– Still not sure? Right now UrbanSitter is offering a free $75 credit for Atlanta families who sign up! You have until September 30th to use this credit toward your first sitter or nanny.
Online booking – UrbanSitter allows you to see sitters’ calendars and book exact dates and times for jobs and interviews without the hassle of calling or texting. This is particularly great for parents looking for last minute sitters for curriculum nights, open houses, parents’ night out, etc.
Pay by Credit Card – You can easily pay with your credit card from the UrbanSitter app. No more awkward moments or ATM runs!
Not just for Atlanta – Since UrbanSitter is national, families can use the service when traveling, too! Piggyback off your destination’s trusted resource recommendations like a national moms group, a sister church or the local YMCA.
Sitter Response Times – You might find the perfect sitter, with glowing reviews, but you need to know that her average response time is 24 hours. She might be the person you want on your next date night, but she won’t work for your emergency teacher’s meeting. UrbanSitter tracks this for you, setting correct expectations for everyone involved.
Repeat Family Indicator– Nothing says “this sitter is stellar” like a family hiring them for a repeat job. You need to now this! So look on sitters’ profile for the repeat family indicator for even more trusted information about that potential hire.
Video Intros from Sitters– UrbanSitter allows sitters to add a video to their profile (up to 2 minutes) so that you can get to know them better! This gives you the opportunity to get to know them even better before setting up that interview.
What questions do I ask a babysitter?
OK – you’ve got a sitter or two that look great on paper, with awesome parent reviews and complete availability. Now what?
References. According to UrbanSitter’s survey, reviews from other parents ranked as the most important factor when hiring a babysitter, with 53% of parents surveyed saying they check references when hiring a new sitter. Asking for references is a great place to start.
When your hiring for a last-minute gig, reading the online parent reviews might be enough to get you through that two-hour business lunch. If you’re not in a hurry and looking for a stable sitter, consider asking their references about compensation, the sitter’s strengths, where s/he could improve, energy level, if they’d rehire the sitter, what duties they had as a sitter, and feedback on general management.
Background Checks. If a sitter is with an online service like UrbanSitter, then they have easy access to share their background check. UrbanSitter uses a third-party to check the National Sex Offender registrar and a Multi-State Criminal Records repository, using the applicant’s SSN. You’ll see a background check badge displayed on their profile.
If you need a check outside of UrbanSitter, or you want a more detailed check that includes a check of their driving records, consider a driver Pro Check from Checkr.com which is the firm used by UrbanSitter.
Babysitter Interview. When you speak with your potential sitter, have your questions lined up. What’s your childcare background? Have you been trained in CPR? Tell me about an activity you might do with my kids. When would you call me versus calling 911? Do you think tidying the house is part of your job? Do you have a car to drive yourself here and home?
We love these babysitting questions suggested by UrbanSitter.
How do I know how much to pay a babysitter? [Infographic below]
Yikes! The dreaded question about money. Here’s the biggest tip I can offer: Talk about it up front! Don’t wait until your back home before asking what they charge. Know your expense up front, and understand what that includes.
UrbanSitter looked at rates across the country (see the infographic below.) The rates are varied by area of the country and number of kiddos. On average, the hourly rate paid is $15-16 for a single child, about $18 for two kiddos and a little over $20 for three kiddos.
Obviously there are other things to consider when agreeing to a rate (for example, our sitter makes $12 per hour for two kids but we pay her extra for a number of things and she enjoys the convenience of steady work while she’s in college.)
Besides number of children, other considerations for pay also include:
- the amount of house chores expected
- whether or not the kids need to be shuttled to extra-curricular activities
- holiday rates
- overnight rates
- if the request was last-minute
- sitter experience
Sitter’s here – Now What?
Setting expectations is key to a successful babysitting arrangement. Parents, kids and sitters are all more comfortable when they know upfront what to expect, so don’t be shy about setting expectations with your sitter and with your kids.
Questions to clear up with the sitter and kids:
- How much TV or computer is allowed?
- What snacks and sweets are permitted?
- What’s for dinner, who prepares it and where to eat it
- Are baths required on sitter nights?
- What allergies do they need to know about?
- When it bedtime? What’s the routine?
- Should the sitter clear the table and load the dishwasher? Is that extra $$ or included?
- Should the toys be cleaned up? Is that extra $$ or included?
- What sort of discipline guidelines do you have in place? Can the sitter put them in timeout? Take away TV privileges? Under what conditions?
- Can they go anywhere? Is it OK to walk to the playground? Can the sitter drive them anywhere?
- What about emergencies? How should they be handled? We love this emergency contact sheet printable from UrbanSitter.
Now you have everything you need to find, vet, hire, pay and manage a sitter. Labor Day weekend is coming up…I challenge you to take a date night with your spouse, get a drink with the girls, or go get a pedicure by yourself. You deserve it! And with UrbanSitter’s free $75 credit, now is the time.