The golden rules for good babysitting !
Choosing and communicating well with your babysitter means that when you close the door you will have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself!
How to make a good babysitting team?
Choosing and communicating well with your babysitter is the key to closing the door behind you with peace of mind: your children will have a nice evening…. And so will you!
We asked organised parents to compile the golden rules for a successful partnership, and how to save time (and find peace of mind) when it comes to all those comical or calamitous babysitting experiences that are looming on the horizon!
When it comes to good babysitting, ask for references: whether you go through a specialist agency, a small ad in the grocer’s or your cousin’s friend, ask to speak to parents for whom your candidate has already babysat. If she doesn’t have any experience, call her parents. There is no shame in informing yourself: you would do it for an intern at work whose responsibilities go no further than looking after the coffee machine. So, make the call, and get a better idea about the person who is going to mind your kids.
Leave time for a suitable briefing. Maryse, who works for a specialist agency is astonished: “We have parents who head out the door as soon as the babysitter arrives and others who spend an hour giving a tour of the house. Find the right balance! Welcome the babysitter and introduce her to the children right away because it is about them, after all. Explain to her clearly in front of the children what you expect from her: activities, bedtime, tooth brushing. Your children, especially if they are old enough to understand, must be party to this delegation and clear about the limits that are being set. Good babysitting happens when everybody plays their part.”
In case of emergency:
Prepare a document with the procedure to follow in an emergency:
Major accident: call the emergency services, then the neighbour who can be there in 5 minutes, then you.
Minor accident: call you and then text you.
Tummy bugs and other recurrent incidents: Indicate the steps to follow to prevent nasty surprises. Lacking initiative is not a crime when you are 18 years old… So if your child is a little bit sick, give instructions to follow in case of vomiting: a glass of water, call you, strip the bed (including rinsing the sheets before putting them in the machine….the voice of experience…).
Give a list of several numbers and ask to be texted or called.
As the emergency document never changes, you can scan it and send it to the babysitter who can keep it in her telephone…. Print it out if necessary. You have spent time creating it, so make sure that your document will remain useful over time.
Check that your instructions have been understood:
Copy that? “Get the babysitter to repeat back the instructions you have given her so that everything is clear. It’s basic, but if it works for the army, then why not in your home?”
Be clear about your expectations: “If you are very particular about certain things such as the quality of the dinner or activities, prepare everything in advance. Leave some freedom when it comes to things that don’t matter so much to you, but don’t expect things to be done your way”, warns Maryse. “You can’t reproach a babysitter for doing things differently as long as the babysitting goes well.”
Also give instructions about what the babysitter can do when your children are asleep: they often do their homework or watch TV. However, if there are rooms that are about of bounds, say that. And define access to the fridge: “You can take some Coke or water and I left you a packet of biscuits, or you can take a yoghurt if you like.” is a good way to avoid misunderstandings.
The evening is over, and you are home again. Take a minute to ask how the evening went. A good babysitter will tell you what really happened: don’t judge her if she tells you that your son cried at bedtime; she is being honest with you.
Don’t forget to check with your children the next day. Delegating does not exclude checking up 🙂 A good way to do this is to suggest that she should come again next time. “Oh nooo, I didn’t like her…” deserves a discussion.
7 pounds per hour on average, with an overnight rate of 40 pounds which can be cheaper and more comfortable than staying up late waiting for you to come home.
And because your own children may end up doing babysitting too one day, check how your babysitter is getting home!
To make a good team with your au pair, read our articles on the subject