With summer in fullswing, the kids are out of school and many parents find the need to rely on a babysitter for childcare. When looking for a teen babysitter, no parent would consider one who wasn’t responsible or competent when it comes to caring for children. But how can you be sure that your teen babysitter will be a good choice?
The following are some tips for making sure your teen babysitter is responsible:
Perhaps the most important way you can find out if a babysitter is responsible is by checking her references or asking those who recommended her specific questions about her level of responsibility and reliability. Make sure you call references and ask them specific questions don’t be satisfied with parents who say “She was good,” or “We liked her.” Some questions you should ask other parents to gauge a potential teen sitter’s level of responsibility include:
Did the sitter always arrive on time or early? Accidents and emergencies happen, such as running out of gas or getting stuck in traffic, but a sitter who was chronically late with an excuse of “I was running late!” is unacceptable. A good, responsible babysitter will respect the fact that the parents have somewhere to be at a certain time and will show up as promised.
Did the sitter ever fail to show up? References who say their teen babysitter “forgot” to show up for appointments should not be considered. If she forgets to make an appointment for people who were counting on her, there’s no way of knowing whether she’ll “forget” to give your kids medicine or follow specific instructions. On the other hand, remember that emergencies do occur, and there may be a very good reason for being late or failing to show up.
Did the sitter give you ample notice if she cancelled? It can be extremely frustrating to try and find a replacement sitter thirty minutes before you’re supposed to go out. If your reference says the sitter has cancelled before, ask if the sitter gave plenty of warning so they could find someone else.
Did any accidents ever occur when the sitter was in charge? Accidents happen all the time, but potentially serious accidents can be the result of irresponsibility or a sitter who wasn’t keeping a close enough eye on the kids. So if a parent says her child fell off the counter or got into something and made a huge mess while under the sitter’s care, this raises serious questions about her level of responsibility.
What to look out for
When talking to a sitter’s references, be wary of any reference that gives quick, vague answers or “can’t remember” answers to your questions. Chances are, they are not giving you the full story but don’t want to make the sitter look bad.
Also, be cautious about hiring a sitter when the references provide you with excuses for a sitter’s irresponsible behavior. “She was late because she was studying for a test,” or “Cheerleading practice ran over” or “She lost track of time” are not excuses for irresponsibility.
Hiring a new babysitter can be a nervewracking thing. However, if you take the time to ask for references and ask them questions about the babysitter’s reliability and responsibility, you will have a better idea of how capable they will be of caring for your children.