You know those montages in the movies where parents interview potential babysitters, and each candidate is more outlandish than the next? There’s usually a stern European lady, a ditzy blonde snapping gum, a burly biker dude for some reason, and then, at the end, the absolute perfect candidate to whom the relieved parents shout, “You’re hired!” Unfortunately, in real life making a decision on the right child caretaker is rarely so clear cut. So how do you find the right one? The best way, in my opinion, is by asking any potential child caretaker these ten illuminating questions:
1. What is your general child-care philosophy?
This is the most important question you can ask. No matter how nice a candidate may seem, if their philosophy for child care differs from your overall parenting goals, they are wrong for your family.
2. What disciplinary techniques do you use?
It is also very important that you and your child’s caretaker are on the same page regarding discipline. Find out right away!
3. Do you have training in CPR and first aid?
This will likely be the only adult your child is with should anything go wrong, so you better believe you want someone well versed in both CPR and first aid, ideally with a certificate from the Red Cross or a safe-sitter course.
4. How would you respond in the event of an emergency?
CPR and first aid training are a must, of course, but the ideal candidate would also have good instincts about what to do in the event of an emergency, and be able to describe a clear game plan for handling such situations.
5. Is your facility safe?
This is a key question to ask if the child care is outside the home at a daycare center or similar facility. For in-house child care, you want to find out about the safety of the candidate’s car if they will be driving your child.
6. What is your previous experience with kids?
You ideally want a child caretaker who has worked with children around the same age as yours. If you have a toddler and the child caretaker has only worked with ‘tweens, you need to know.
7. Do you have references?
It says a lot when a child caretaker is able and willing to connect you with other parents who were happy with their work. Don’t be afraid to ask for these!
8. What creative things do you enjoy doing when caring for children?
Someone who is able to find fun in even the most mundane situation is probably going to be a caretaker your kids like. Believe me, having a caretaker your kids like will make your life a whole lot easier.
9. What was your worst babysitting experience ever?
This is a great one to learn about the candidate’s attitude. Did they handle the situation with poise? Or are they bitter even when relating the experience to you long after the fact?
10. How can I make your time watching my children better and easier?
You also want to show the potential child caretaker that you are the kind of person they would want to work for, so don’t forget to ask this question. Also, asking this question will give you a good idea of how communicative they would be with you should they have the position.