You’ve finally decided to go for it—an actual date night, just the two of you. You even went all out and picked a non-baby friendly restaurant, fancy cocktails and real-flame candles included. Congratulations!
But if you’ve never hired a babysitter before (sorry, Grandma, you don’t count—we know your references!) or are looking to find someone new you trust, it can be a scary process. After all, you are technically letting a stranger into your home and leaving them with your most precious possession.
But, wait, don’t cancel that date just yet!
Here are a few simple steps to take the guesswork out of hiring the perfect sitter for your family.
1. Get a great reference
While some moms guard the secret of a fabulous babysitter, many are thrilled to pass along the names of ones they have come to love. Ask around at your child’s music class or write a post in a local Facebook group to get recommendations. Moms are often happy to share the names of sitters or nannies that their own children have outgrown.
Want to save yourself time and hassle? Sign up for a service like UrbanSitter that instantly taps into your local community for sitter referrals. It’s like asking every mom in the neighborhood for her go-to sitter (without having to get dressed for the carpool line). It works by syncing with your Facebook and real life connections (moms groups, kids classes, church, preschool) to give you the inside scoop on the sitters other parents you trust have used and loved.
Want to try UrbanSitter? Click here to get $75 toward membership fees and babysitting services!
2. Check their experience
Of course, what makes a babysitter perfect will depend on what your family needs. One of the best places to start can be the sitter’s work history. Has he or she worked a number of families repeatedly? (Repeat business = happy clientele.) Do they have a variety of positive reviews from different customers? Are they certified in CPR or first aid training? Up to date on current immunizations?
You can ask all these questions in an interview, but a site like UrbanSitter shows everything—including a sitter’s number of repeat families—right on the sitter’s profile, helping you narrow down your search from the start. They even let sitters apply for a background check so you’ll know if they have a clean driving record, a criminal record, if they’re legal to work in the U.S., or anything else that would trigger an immediate red flag.
3. Get prepped for the interview
Ready to take the next step? It’s time to meet! If you want to get a feel for how the sitter interacts with your kids right away, schedule the in-person interview for a time when the whole gang will be home. Want more one-on-one time? Book the interview during the tail end of naptime. That way, you can ask more personal questions while your little ones sleep and then get some time all together when they wake up.
(Psst! In a jam and no time for an in-person interview? UrbanSitter lets sitters record an introductory video that you can watch to get an idea for their personality, and then you can schedule a phone interview to ask specific questions.)
Before your interview, prepare a bit of background about your family, including the names and ages of your children, activities they like to do, discipline techniques that work, driving requirements for the gig, and any additional responsibilities (such as housework or caring for pets) that you expect the sitter to take care of.
Not sure what questions you should be asking? We’ve got you! Download our printable Babysitter Interview Questions here for a starting point.
Dos + Don’ts for the interview
This is a job interview, so there are certain things you can and cannot ask.
Questions you CAN ask: Are you over the age of 18? Can you legally work in the U.S.? Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Explain the circumstances. We are looking to hire someone for a long-term position. Is there any reason that you know of now that may preclude you from working for us full-time over the next few years? Our children have a lot of energy or require carrying. Are you comfortable with the physical demands of the job?
Questions you CANNOT ask: Age. Race/ethnic background. Religious views. Sexual orientation. Marital status/plans on becoming pregnant. Disability. If she has been arrested.
4. Try a trial run.
Now that you’ve found a sitter with the right qualifications and personality, you’re ready to hire. Many parents opt to do a trial run before leaving the sitter with the kids for a full day or evening, booking them for an hour or two when they’ll be home or nearby (hello, uninterrupted time to work at home, do housework, or escape to the gym!). This will give you an opportunity to see them in action but still be close at hand if issues arise (or if your sitter needs help finding something at home).
And if the trial run goes well, congratulations! You’ve found an amazing sitter—and earned yourself a leisurely night out (or two!).
5. Negotiate a rate.
Talking money can be awkward in any situation, but here are a few tips to avoid the discomfort. First, find out what’s the going rate in your area. Ask parent friends what they pay, or check UrbanSitter to find out what the prevailing average babysitting rate is for your city. Sitters on the site also list their desired salary, so you’ll know going in what they expect, or you can post a job with what you would like to pay.
Prefer to talk money in person? Say: "What salary range are you looking for?" or "We will be paying $X, are you comfortable with that?" It’s direct and will help avoid any miscommunications or misunderstandings in the future.
6. Go for it!
Be sure to bring it up if you subscribe to specific diets, religious or cultural practices or have special needs or medical concerns. Even if your potential sitter doesn’t have specific experience with your situation, look for someone who is open-minded or willing to learn to find a sitter you can stick with for the long haul.
Most importantly, trust your gut. The right sitter will be one you can communicate with comfortably. Try a few different sitters so you can build up a roster of go-to options in case your favorite isn’t available every Saturday night.
And enjoy that date night, mama. You’ve earned it.
Sponsored by UrbanSitter.