Finding a good babysitter can be a very stressful experience. Many parents rely on friends and family to watch their children, but there are inevitably times when you need someone outside of your immediate circle to care for your children. While there are a lot of teenagers who can provide caring, reliable and cost effective childcare, unfortunately not all of them are responsible enough to do so. Therefore, it’s important you choose a teenage babysitter carefully.
Begin your search for a teenage babysitter by seeking recommendations from those you know and trust. For example, ask a neighbor or the parent of one of your child’s friends if they have a good babysitter they could recommend to you. In addition, high school guidance counselors and local youth organizations are often able to recommend reliable and experienced students.
Once you’ve found a teenager who comes highly recommended, ask her over to your home to meet your children before setting up a date for her to babysit. Then engage her casually in conversation and observe how she interacts with your children. If you and your kids like her, and you feel she is capable of handling routine babysitting responsibilities and any unexpected mishaps, then ask her to babysit for a couple hours on another day as a trial run.
During this trial run, stay home and be readily available, but out of sight of the kids. This way the babysitter has the opportunity to fulfill her responsibilities independently, while you have the comfort of knowing you’re available if she doesn’t handle the responsibility well. A successful trial run will not only make you and your children feel more comfortable when you leave them with the new babysitter for the first time, but will also help the babysitter feel more confident and familiar with your children and the surroundings.
After you’ve made your decision to hire a babysitter, but before you schedule her to babysit for the first time, discuss the following: how much you will pay for her services, your child’s routines, food preferences and favorite activities. In addition, explain your expectations, including what she is able to do with the kids while you’re gone (i.e., go swimming?), what she is able to do while they’re asleep (go on your computer?) and how you expect to find your home when you return (load the dishwasher with dinner dishes?).
Before you leave your children with the babysitter for the first time, provide her with phone numbers she can use if necessary (i.e., your cell phone, a neighbor, a family member who lives close by) and confirm she knows to call 911 in an emergency. Also, be sure to tell the babysitter if your children have certain dietary restrictions. If the babysitter has to administer any medication to your child, be sure to leave a signed and dated note authorizing her to do so with clear written instructions. However, it is best to cancel the babysitter if your child is ill.