If you’re reading this, it means you’re either about to have some time away from your kids or you know you need to! Either way, your brain may be spinning or your anxiety starting to flare up at the thought of doing so (both are totally normal because you love your kids!) I did some crowdsourcing for this article with my own mom squad (on our own moms night out). There were plenty of laughs had in the process (one mama who shall remain nameless said “Do you have a pulse?” as her go-to question) but also 10 great conversation starters based on the good and not-as-good babysitting experiences we’ve had as frequent sitter-hirers. Here are 10 Questions to Ask Your Babysitter Before Hiring Them:
Can I trust you with my babies?
Now obviously you may not come right out and ask this, but landing at a solid “YES” to this question is essential for a mom’s mental health. If you aren’t hiring a pre-vetted person (like through your school or day care), I strongly encourage you to work with an agency that specializes in background checks, reference checking, and even professional development of childcare workers. These are typically locally owned and operated (often by other moms!) and they take the extra steps to ensure the person in your home is trustworthy. In Austin, I’ve worked with Babysitting Connection and Stork (for nanny/doula services) – and both are woman/mom-owned and full of love for what they do. (Olive Us and Bambino are also Austin Moms Blog Approved!) It’s totally worth the extra investment for peace of mind! If you can’t afford to work with an agency, make sure you take the time to call at least 3 references from current or past employers. Don’t forget to Google their name and look for their social media platforms.
Can you send me your latest CPR certification to have on file?
Rather than just ask them if they are CPR certified, make sure to see a copy of the certification to make sure it’s up to date. While you’re at it, also get a good understanding of how they would handle emergencies such as choking, fever, falls, etc. Make sure you show them where you keep supplies like a thermometer, band-aids, pain reliever or other age-appropriate medical supplies.
What would you do if….
This is my favorite, and suggested by my best friend who happens to own a highly respected nanny agency in San Antonio, Hutson Nannies. She likes to give specific scenarios to see how they would handle them. Some of her favorites include asking them how they would handle being locked out of the house, if a child resisted bed time, or if you’re going to the park what are your essential items you pack? This is also a great chance to start a dialogue with them about your expectations and preferences.
What are your favorite activities to do with kids of X age?
This is a great opportunity to learn more about their experience and confirm they know what’s age appropriate and engaging. This is also a chance for you to tell them more about what your children like to do and any other expectations you have for them while sitting. It’s also an important opportunity to talk about screen time and what your family’s stance is.
What’s your transportation situation?
We can’t assume they have their own vehicle, so always confirm that they have a reliable way to get to your house – especially if your time isn’t flexible (you have reservations or tickets to a show). You don’t want to start off your precious night out texting back and forth about the ETA of their Uber.
Are you OK with our compensation?
Rather than asking them what their rates are, tell them what the job pays. For example, a simple text that says, ”We pay $18 per hour via Venmo – work for you?” Or, if you’re having them overnight, “We pay a flat $150 for overnights – sound OK for you?” This way you aren’t having to guess at their rates and how to pay them. Again, I’m all about peace of mind while I’m trying to enjoy my evening! Not all sitters have all payment platforms so make sure to confirm in advance what they prefer, or if you need to have cash.
Based on everything we talked about, anything stand out as a concern or an area you feel iffy about?
This is a chance to let them speak up about something before it becomes an issue. They may admit they aren’t confident with administering medication or how to ensure your child gets to sleep. It’s your opportunity to give them more direction or to reassure them (or, if the concern is major – perhaps it’s not a fit for your family!)
Do you have any dietary restrictions?
I like to ask this so I can make the babysitter comfortable at my home, especially if they will be there more than a couple of hours. It’s also important to align on their expectations regarding dinner or a meal if they will be there for extended time that crosses over a meal. You could tell them to help themselves to anything you have in the fridge, leave them dinner like you might the kids, or offer to send a DoorDash gift card.
Can you send me a couple of photo updates while I’m away?
I personally love getting 2-3 photos from the evening as quick updates – this always brings me joy and peace of mind seeing my child smiling and having fun with their caretaker! Sometimes if you don’t tell them you want this, they may assume they shouldn’t have their phone out at all and then you may not hear from them (other than the 10 times you might check your cameras at home!)
If all goes well, are you available again next month?
Great babysitters book up quickly, especially if you and your mom squad tend to hire from the same sitter pool! Why not go ahead and pre-plan your next date night or self-care session and reserve your childcare while it’s fresh on your mind! The more you have great childcare, the more you’re able to take time away from your kids with less guilt!