Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I am really excited to have a fellow writer taking over my blog. When Lindsey asked me if she would write something on finding a safety-minded babysitter I was beyond ecstatic. This post is leading up to a series starting next week about how I handle other caregivers coming into our home. Some of Lindsey’s tips I use and I have a few other tips too! I hope you enjoy Lindsey’s post as much as I do! Candice 🙂
Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it. When I leave my kids with the sitter, I care very little about how much fun they might have and a lot more about whether theyíll be safe while Iím away. Of course, they always do end up having fun (our sitter is amazing!), but when it comes down to my own peace of mind, safety is my major concern.
The trouble is judging how safety-minded a babysitter is can be a lot more difficult than judging how good they are with your children. I mean, let’s face it, the more rules a babysitter lets them break, the more fun my kids are going to say they had. So, over the years, Iíve developed a few ways to judge whether a sitter cares as much about safety as she does about making sure my kids are having a good time.
Considering it’s the summer and for many, that means visits to the pool, a great (and critical!) place to start is testing their willingness to brush up on basic water safety. I recently found this swimming safety guide, which is specifically designed for babysitters. Iíve already asked our sitter to take a look at it.
Here are a few additional tips to make sure the summer goes smoothly:
Start with a trial run. A great way to assess whether your potential sitter is safe is to observe them in action. The University of Michigan recommends a trial run of sorts. Have the sitter come over as a mother’s or fatherís helper so that you can see how they interact with your children and what they deem is appropriate for their behavior. For example, if she doesnít see a problem texting on her phone or watching TV, while youíre around, she probably wonít see anything wrong with doing so when youíre gone.
Be wary of objections to your rules. Whenever my kids are going to stay with sitter, I outline my expectations for my kids, and I outline expectations for the sitter. I expect to hear gripes from my kids, but if the sitter has a problem with one of my rules, that’s a huge red flag. In its piece on safety tips for babysitters, Care.com outlines some rules you might want to set for your sitter. For example, No friends/boyfriends/girlfriends allowed over and No sleeping on the job.
Pay close attention to the questions they ask you. Our current babysitter is a gem, and I wish we would have her around forever. When she showed up at our door for her first time watching the kids, she had an information sheet (part of a packet sheíd been given at her babysitting and first aid class) and she asked me to fill it out before we left. It asked for mine and my husband’s contact info, hospital information, etc. She also asked if the kids had any allergies or health issues she should know about.
Honestly, she had thought about some things I hadn’t even considered, and when I left that day, I felt like I was leaving my kids in safe and caring hands. If youíre unsure of what information to leave with your sitter, the Minnesota Safety Council provides a great checklist to follow.
Ask about their cell phone use. Kidpower.org provides great advice for babysitters on the importance of putting away their technology and paying attention when they’re babysitting. And it’s certainly advice every sitter should heed. Cell phones are easy distractions. And especially in the summer, when sitters may be taking kids to the pool, it only takes a split second of a distraction for disaster to strike. Be sure to get your babysitter’s opinion on what is appropriate regarding cell phone use when theyíre with your kids. If they say anything other than, ìI put my phone on silent and give my undivided attention to your kids,î you may want to find someone else.
I want my kids to have fun with their sitter. But I also want them to be safe at all times. Itís important to find someone who knows and understands how to create that balance.
Lindsay M. writes for PublicHealthCorps and, in her spare time, enjoys satisfying her other passions – like cooking, biking and photography. She is happily married to her high school sweetheart and the mother of twin girls.