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Ask the Experts: Finding a babysitter Ask the Experts

Ask the Experts: Finding a babysitter

My husband and I are desperate for a date night, but we don’t have any family nearby. How do we begin finding a sitter we can trust?

A: Finding someone you can trust to watch your most precious treasures can feel like a daunting and impossible task. But, don’t fear! There is a way to have a date night and peace of mind. Family is often the go-to for child care, but sometimes it’s better to use an outside source anyway—it keeps the in-laws from competing with one another!

My first rule for looking for a babysitter is: referrals. Think of it as being set up on a date by a mutual friend. There’s a built-in verification process, and it makes you feel a little more assured that this potential caretaker has clout. Ask your neighbors, friends, fellow parishioners, etc., if they know of anyone looking for a position. Just be sure not to steal any babysitters from your friends—that’s a big no-no!

My second rule: agencies. There are a plethora of nanny and babysitter agencies at your disposal using good ol’ Google. However, you must vet these applicants yourself and not just rely on the background checks the company provides for you within the package pricing. The internet is your best friend here! Throw the candidates name into a search engine and see what populates. (You’ll be surprised what you can find.) Look at their social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.—to give you a very accurate reading of who they are when they think you aren’t looking.

Lastly, consider the needs and values of your family when selecting child care. If any of your children are old enough to communicate, make sure that they have a say in whom you hire and why. Help them make a list of the qualities they would prefer in a babysitter or nanny. Even if you find a babysitter with just one of those qualities, big siblings will feel like they have more control in a situation that’s otherwise out of their control. This also makes finding a sitter a family activity—and that, my friends, is the sweetest spoonful of sugar.

—Florence Ann Romano, also known as The Windy City Nanny and author of Nanny and Me

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