Hiring a Babysitter / Nanny
When families decide to have a nanny in their home, they think about what it means to have a new person on her own with their children. They think about the changes that will take place and how the kids will accept the stranger. In most cases, a nanny is not hired for a short term. Parents don't like to change nannies and the nannies don't like to change families. In many cases the children get attached to the nanny and she is considered a part of the family.
If a family does not need a nanny on regular basis but only for a few hours sporadically, then a babysitter will be more appropriate then a nanny full-time. The question is where to look for a babysitter when your needs are for only a short period of time knowing that is not easy to have the same person babysitting whenever is required.
One should try as many ways as possible including friends' and relatives' referrals, newspapers and bulletin board advertisements and not in the least, domestic help agencies, especially those specialized in nannies. Although, a nanny or domestic help agency will ask you for a fee for finding a babysitter, the advantage is that the agency will do the screening process and if the babysitter is not available, the agency will provide a substitute for her.
Regardless of the screening done by the nanny agency, you should interview the baby-sitter at your home so you will have a better sense about the interaction with your kids and if they will feel comfortable with her at home.
Some questions to ask of potential babysitters:
- How would you make sure that my child does not play with dangerous objects or swallow poisons?
- Have you ever taken care of an injured child? What would you do if my child fell off a swing? How would you decide when to call an ambulance?
- What would you do if there were an emergency in the house like a fire or a gas leak?
- Do you plan to have children of your own? What do you like about children?
- Have you ever taken care of your younger brothers or sisters? What do you dislike about children?
- What would you do if my child complained that he was bored?
- Tell me how you plan to spend the day (evening) while you are caring for my child?
- If my child broke an expensive object in the house or refused to eat her dinner, what would you do?
- What do you feel are your main duties as a babysitter?
Here is a sample information sheet you can leave with your babysitter:
INFORMATION FOR BABYSITTERS
Parents Names: ________________________
The House Address: _____________________
The Phone Number of the House: ___________
Mother's Work Phone: ____________________
Mother's Mobile Phone: ___________________
Father's Work Phone: _____________________
Father's Mobile Phone: ____________________
Neighbour's or Relative's Name: ______________
Neighbour's or Relative's Phone Number: ______
Child's Bedtime: __________________________
Mealtime Instructions: _____________________
Special Instructions: ______________________
Poison Control Center: ______________________
Doctor's Name: ____________________________
The following are tips on choosing and orienting a babysitter:
- Choose babysitters who demonstrate knowledge of how to prevent injuries. They should have taken first aid training or a babysitting course that includes first aid. The Canadian Red Cross Society offers these types of courses.
- Orient a new babysitter to your home. Show the babysitter the first aid supplies, emergency telephone numbers, the escape plan in case of fire and how to control heat, stove, lights and fuse box.
- Be clear about activities and areas that are off limits to children.
- Leave the telephone number where you will be and the number of a neighbour who could be of assistance in an emergency.
- After the children are put to bed, the sitter should check each of them once an hour. Make it clear that the babysitter should not sleep.
- The babysitter should not be allowed to entertain friends. He or she is hired to do a job and should not be distracted.
- The telephone should not be used for personal calls. It is for emergency use only.
- The babysitter should know what the child is doing at all times.
- If possible, avoid asking babysitters to give medicine. If you must, give them careful instructions.
- Babysitters should not smoke. Smoking is a fire and health hazard. Smoke may cause or worsen children's colds, flu, asthma and bronchitis.
- Babysitters should not be expected to do chores. Their concerns are for the safety of the child.
- Check out your babysitters thoroughly. Make unscheduled visits home until you are sure you can trust them.