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6 steps to hire the perfect sitter for your family

Finally ready for that date night? Here’s how to find the perfect babysitter your family will love.

6 steps to hire the perfect sitter for your family

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.

FEATURED VIDEO

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.

In This Article

    These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

    Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

    While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

    I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

    I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

    My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

    The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

    Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

    Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

    1. Go apple picking.

    Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

    To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

    2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

    We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

    To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

    3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

    Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

    To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

    4. Have a touch-football game.

    Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

    To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

    5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

    Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

    To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

    This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

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    Stylish storage cabinet

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    White board calendar + bulletin board

    With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

    Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

    From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

    Bamboo storage drawers

    The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

    Laminated world map

    I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

    Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

    When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

    Letterboard

    From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

    Expandable tablet stand

    Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

    Neutral pocket chart

    Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

    Totable fabric bins

    My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

    Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

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