A great babysitter is worth their weight in GOLD! Do you want to find an AMAZING babysitter who will not only take good care of your kids, but who your kids will BEG you to come watch them? You just have to know what to look for.
“Beth’s here!!!!!!” *high pitched squeals of utter delight from 3 small children, all jumping up and down and waving their arms in excitement*
This was a common occurrence for me during my 10+ years working as a babysitter and part-time nanny for multiple families. The kids LOVED having me watch them and the parents thanked me profusely, knowing that their kids would be well taken care of while they were away, the rules would be followed, the house would be clean, and the kids would be begging me to come babysit them again. They also paid me more than the going rate because of it.
Now that I’m a mom myself, I understand the value of a good babysitter in a whole new way. There is NOTHING we moms want more than to feel like our kids are in good hands when we head out for a date night or to the office or wherever we need to go.
And yet, as I’ve talked to numerous moms about the topic of babysitters, there seems to be a common problem…it’s really hard to find a good one, let alone a great one!
So, from one stellar babysitter turned mom, here are 5 things you should look for in a next-level babysitter:
1. You Can Depend On Them (They’re Professional)
One of the first and most important ways a babysitter sets him or herself apart is to be professional. This means responding quickly to texts, phone calls or emails when we are looking for their services. If they’re hard to get a hold of, stop asking. There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to rely on them in other areas either. A reliable babysitter is someone who takes your request seriously and puts it on their calendar immediately, sets reminders, or whatever it takes to make sure they don’t forget or double book themselves.
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from moms is babysitters who cancel at the last minute because they forgot or something better came along. What may seem like no big deal to a so-so babysitter means that we now have to stay home from a good friend’s wedding or forfeit our $100 tickets to the play we’ve been looking forward to for months or take an unpaid vacation day from work, because there’s no time to get a new babysitter when they cancel last minute.
You can recognize a reliable babysitter because they show up on time, make you a priority, and respond quickly to your requests. Another great way to check dependability is to get references. Call past employers and see what they have to say. If you know a babysitter works for a daycare center or volunteers at a church that requires background checks, that’s even better.
2. Your Kids Will LOVE Them (They’re Fun)
As important as dependability is in a great babysitter, we should take our cues from our kids on this one. Try asking your child, “Would you rather have Jen babysit or Beth?” They should have a positive & excited response to the prospect of the babysitter coming over.
If our kids look forward to the babysitter coming over, it makes it SO much easier for us to leave and not feel bad about it. If our kids are clinging to our legs in tears screaming, “Mommy, please don’t leave me!”, then it’s time to look elsewhere for help. How else do you know if a prospective babysitter is going to be fun? It’s pretty simple really. They will engage your kids, play with them, and talk to them like they are the most important people in the room, because to us…they are! If a prospective babysitter comes over and spends all her time talking to you instead of the kids, say “no thanks.”
3. They Will Reassure You (They’re Intentional)
Moms worry. It’s part of our job description. No matter how great a babysitter is, we still worry about our kids and how they’re doing. Is everybody safe & healthy? Are they having fun? Did we forget to give them some instruction or resource they need?
An amazing babysitter will reassure you that things are going well. At least once or twice during your time with our kids, they’ll snap a quick photo and send it to us with a one-liner like, “We’re having a great time!” or “Dinner went well and now we’re having a pajama party!” They know that when we see things are going well, we breathe a sigh of relief.
If your babysitter is willing to take the time to reassure you that things are going well, you know that they are ALSO being intentional to do the things you’ve asked them to do and that your kids are going to be alive when you get home. That’s a big deal 😉
4. They Will Honor Your Guidelines (They’re Firm)
Few things in our lives can throw off all happiness & sanity like tired, cranky kids. We absolutely want our kids to have a great time with the babysitter. But if they are still wide awake when we get home and bouncing off the walls because of extra sugar or overstimulation, it just makes our job a lot harder.
Not only do we now need to wrangle them into bed after a long day, but the next day they will most likely be exhausted, emotional and grumpy. And sometimes it’s just not worth it.
A stellar babysitter will have a blast with your kids, but also enforce the rules and bedtimes you have requested. If you get home and your kids are all wide awake, or you later find out from your kids that they were “allowed” to break the rules on several accounts, RUN. A truly great babysitter cares about your rules and honors them.
5. They Will Make Your Life a Little Easier (They’re Helpful)
The biggest secret to a stellar babysitter is that they will leave the house cleaner than they found it. As moms, we work hard all day long (and are on-call all night long too). There’s always more waiting to be done.
An awesome babysitter knows this and wants to help. One of the things that set me apart from other babysitters is that, once the kids were in bed, I got to work.
When I babysat as a teen and young adult, I wouldn’t sit down until the dishes were done, toys were picked up, and everything sparkled. I know this may seem hard to do when your babysitter is actually watching the kids, but it is a lot easier than you may think (you know, YOU do it every day!) Is this a requirement? No, of course not. But when you arrive home to a clean house, YOU’VE FOUND THE ONE!
How to KEEP a Stellar Babysitter
There are a TON of babysitters out there. Heck, most of them will do one or more of the above and do it really well. But very few have mastered ALL of these magic five. When you find someone who fits the bill, keep them!
If you want to keep your stellar babysitter, PAY THEM a little more than the going rate to show how much you value them. TELL THEM how great they are…on the regular.
FEED THEM when they’re there. Make sure you have meals for them and not just the kids. PRAISE SPECIFIC BEHAVIOR. For example: “Thank you SO much for doing the dishes. Coming home to a clean counter just took such a load off.” or “My kids LOVE when you take them to the park. Thanks for going the extra mile to give them a great time.”
When you find “THE ONE,” keep them.