Whether you're a new parent or a seasoned vet, the process of hiring a new babysitter can feel a bit daunting. In our absence we want the best of the best caring for our children so that we can feel completely comfortable leaving them in someone else's hands. But what makes a sitter truly great? There are a few common traits the best caregivers for kiddos share -- signs they'll fit in perfectly with your family.
With this in mind, the next time you set out to interview a potential sitter, keep these characteristics in mind:
The best babysitters are the ones who are always reliable. They arrive on time, follow the household rules while on the clock, and take their job as a caregiver seriously. It's incredibly difficult to have faith in a sitter who isn't punctual or is prone to canceling. After all, you're hiring them to essentially be you for a specified number of hours. A dependable sitter is worth his or her weight in gold for parents who find themselves working long hours or simply need a break for grownup socializing. While they can't be at your beck and call around the clock (yes, babysitters have personal lives, too), a dependable will do their best to help you out in a pinch, or recommend an awesome backup in the event they can't take a gig.
Little ones aren't always calm, cool, and collected when mom and dad leave the house, this we know, but having a comforting soul hold down the fort in your absence can do wonders for easing their anxiety. Whether it's the soothing calm of their voice, reassuring hugs, or a mastery of distraction and redirecting their attention to something fun, a sitter who has a way with anxious kiddos will make your exit strategy a million times easier. Caregivers who don't quickly balk at missing mama meltdowns are true keepers.
You want your child to look forward to a babysitter's arrival, but they can't simply be an entertainer or pal. They also have to command respect and authority so that when it's necessary to follow house rules, they listen to their sitter. Just as parenting isn't always smooth sailing, sometimes a caregiver has to lay down the law. If your child thinks their sitter is just someone they can clown around with, they're less likely to follow directions pertaining to their health and safety. Kids need to respect the sitter just as much as they respect mom and dad, so a confident person who understands the need to be authoritative when necessary is incredibly important.
On the other end of the spectrum, yes, the best babysitters always bring the fun! Whether their skill set resides in crafting, imaginative play, sports, or being just plain silly, when caring for kids, particularly those of toddler-age and up, you want to find someone who is as entertaining as they are confident. As parents know, keeping kids engaged is exhausting work, but someone who can keep their minds off of television or the iPad for stretches of time is truly the king or queen of care giving.
Life throws curve balls sometimes and while we try our best to be as punctual as we expect our babysitters to be, on occasion work meetings run long, traffic keeps us stuck on a commute, and other assorted circumstances prevent us from getting home on the dot of the hour we said we'd walk through the door. A babysitter who can roll with the punches and offer flexibility with their time is a tremendous trait. It, of course, also our job not to take advantage of their time, but a parent-sitter relationship that is respectful and understanding is a wonderful thing.
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