How do you screen babysitters? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Our almost-4-year old has been babysat only by grandmothers and on two occasions, close friends of ours that he knows very well. Some family emergencies and just the need for a little help/relief has lead me to try and find a regular babysitter. I have signed up with sittercity where you post jobs and interested sitters reply. They either have background checks or you can run one thru the site. I want a college student from the nearby university. My husband is sooo uncomfortable with a stranger watching our son, he wants access to the Facebook of potential sitters and he wants to set up nanny cams once we hire one. I am very uncomfortable with that. How do you choose and monitor your sitters?



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#2 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 02:25 PM
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I would not want my college age child to give access to her facebook account to total strangers.  I hope he re-thinks that idea.  That would make me (as the parent of a babysitter) very uncomfortable.  I'd probably even pull the mom card on that one.


Even the Nanny Cam creeps me out.  I'm the mom of a 19 yr old, and with everything in the news lately, i'd be more concerned about MY child in your home, than your child in your home with my kid.


I don't know how to do a background check on a babysitter... but, I'd absolutely ask for references from past or current clients.  I'd call them and ask them a few questions. 

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#3 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 05:47 PM
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Hmm. I'm FB friends with a former long-term babysitter (we've since moved), but it was a more organic kind of thing that "I want to be your Facebook friend before I'll let you babysit" kind of thing. Honestly I limit my FB and do not friend clients, so I think it's out of line to ask to be friended by someone for whom you'll work.

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#4 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 05:53 PM
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I guess I'd be asking why is your DH that uncomfortable with sitters? And I'd side with you that his requests are a bit much. Background check, references, trial babysitting, all that I agree with and have done. I always use college age sitters just because that is what is here in my area, college town. I am FB friends with one on my former sitters (I don't use her currently because of her own limited schedule but nothing bad happened) and that is because she befriended me. I would never ask our current sitter to befriend me, I feel that is a invasion of her private life. 


If I thought something was going on then I could set up a nanny cam, I actually do own some because of my DH's work but I have never felt the need to. I've gone through quite a few paid sitters over the years because they graduate, move on, etc... only one was I not sure about the care my children were receiving, in that incident I knew the girl's mother well, knew she had numerous younger siblings, so I knew she wasn't harming my children but maybe just not watching them as closely as I wanted. DS1 was 12 months old then had he fell off the couch while in her care, my thought was why was he on the couch alone in the first place. I simply never used her again and found another sitter. Now because we have almost full time care in our home, it would be tricker, but for a once in a while babysitters, it is easy to get rid of them. 


I like for the kids and sitter to hang out in the home while I cam around so I can get a feel for how the sitter handles things. And I'm not afraid to ask my kids if they like them, what went on, I ask the sitter about the day/afternoon and get info. I live in a smaller town and I know a lot of moms! My sitters takes my kids out and I get feedback form others on how the sitter did. 




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#5 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 08:27 PM
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Yeah, overkill on your DH's part. I can't imagine asking potential babysitters to let me see their Facebook or subject them to a nanny cam. If he feels that uncomfortable, better just stick to family or close friends. Or not go out.

We are using a new sitter this weekend, but if I felt like I needed to spy on her, I might as well not leave her in charge of my kids.

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#6 of 10 Old 11-30-2011, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the great feedback! I needed the perspective!



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#7 of 10 Old 12-01-2011, 06:37 AM
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Some great answers. For us, we found a sitter on craigslist. I emailed back and forth with this young woman for about three weeks, asking her all  kinds of generic babysitter like questions, and kind of getting a bit of a feel for her personality based on our banter.  I then felt comfortable enough to have her over to my home, where my husband and I interviewed her without our children. We showed her around and had a coffee with her one evening. It was all very laid back, and we spoke of many things unrelated to child care as well. She was charming.


When it finally came time to have her in to babysit, it was summer, so DH, SIL and I, along w a couple of other friends basically sat out on our patio for a few hours before we left to go out for the evening. The sitter was inside with our kids. It was then that I felt comfortable leaving her with them. 


FWIW: I would definitely caution anyone from judging people based on what they see on their Facebook anyhow. My job is home based child care. I have found all my clients from online advertising.  One woman who contacted me for care of her toddler son told me that her sister googled me.  All kinds of interesting things came up. They were all real, and a good indicator of who I am as a person, but not at all relevant to my role as a child care provider.  She found such things as a newspaper article about my going to school to pursue a nursing degree. (Her sister questioned how old I was when I had my kids, if I was only just going to school now). Her sister found several pictures of me dressed as a zombie on our annual Zombie Pub Crawl. Again, totally who I am, but is in no way in context with child care. This was enough for her to want to question me about my personal life (even going so far as to ask about the beer in my hand), and enough for me to realize that she is a nutjob for telling me that they googled me and asking me to justify my life off-duty!

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#8 of 10 Old 12-01-2011, 06:47 AM
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Why not ask some other mom friends who they use for babysitting? When I babysat, I got clients in my neighborhood. We had moved recently moved onto the street (from a mile down the road) and I had gone to the same elementary school that lots of the kids were attending at the time. We had a housewarming party, and I introduced myself to everyone who brought kids and said that I loved to babysit. I was busy within the week, and word of mouth got out and I got even busier.


Ask around, and then you can have them over for a short visit to meet the kids, to chat about your home/give a tour/meet the kid(s), etc.

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#9 of 10 Old 12-01-2011, 11:07 AM
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My local university is our new source for babysitters. 


Like you, our son was over 4yo before a non-family member watched him.  It was really hard for us.


Do you have any contacts at your local university?  If so, getting the name of professors or internship/work study coordinators would be a good source for character references. 


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#10 of 10 Old 12-02-2011, 06:54 AM
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Get your child's input.  Make sure he enjoys himself.  I think asking for their FB is unnecessary.  I used to give references when I babysat in high school and college.  Find someone through someone you know and trust.  If you feel the need to spy, have a friend or relative 'pop in' and act like they didn't know you were gone and report back to you.  If you feel the need to have a nanny cam, I think that right there might be enough indication that it's time to change things.  You should be able to trust a person you are leaving alone with your child.  If I didn't trust someone, I wouldn't leave.  Period.  At almost 4 your son should be able to tell you what goes on when you are out, ask him what he did, what they played, etc.  And if anything kind of odd happens (like the baby falling off the couch) like a PP said, you don't ever have to use that person again.  I had people I babysat for once and quite a few ongoing babysitting gigs.  ;)  And a family or two I was HAPPY not to be called back to!  (like the ones who complained to the place that referred me that I did NOT lock thier children in their bedroom at bedtime!  Who does that?!  AND a person from the agency called me and said they didn't want to place ME anymore because of the complaint,,,,um goodbye and good riddance?!  last time I checked most people would consider locking the kid in their room a reason to fire a sitter!)

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