10 Tips When Hiring a Summer Sitter

Although parents may want to use young teens, especially siblings, to babysit during long summer days, they need to make sure it’s a good fit for everyone involved. Here are some guidelines when hiring a teenage babysitter this summer:

  1. All day, everyday babysitting jobs are for older teens or adults, so if you’re hiring a teen sitter for the summer, look to older, high-school or college-age sitters.
  2. Look for someone with training and experience. A sitter who has completed a babysitting training course and knows first aid, choking rescue, and CPR is the best choice. (Find a local class.)
  3. Be selective. Look for a babysitter within your circle of friends or community, and always check references. (Here’s advice on how to find a good babysitter.)
  4. Match the sitter’s age and experience with the job.  Don’t ask a sitter to do more than she can handle.  Use younger sitters (14-15) for jobs that require partial days, such as a few mornings per week.  Hire older sitters, (16+) for full-day care.
  5. If an older sibling is going to care for younger brothers and sisters, make sure the younger children understand that their older sibling is in charge while you’re away. Review house rules and expectations for behavior with the younger children. (Check out our tips on sibling sitting.)
  6. If hiring a new sitter, try to interview the sitter in your home.  Observe the way the sitter and your children interact when introduced. Go over your house rules.  Ask “what if” scenarios (e.g., “What if my child won’t stop crying after I leave?”).
  7. Model good behavior. Be home on time and be respectful of the sitter’s time. Their own parents worry! Call if you’re running late – 15 minutes is an appropriate leeway.
  8. Prepare your sitter and allow time for orientation (15-30 minutes). Do a house tour where you give clear instructions on all entrances and exits, fire/burglar alarms, flashlights, and off-limits areas. (Here are 5 things you should do to keep kids and sitters safe.)
  9. Encourage safety habits. Make sure your home is secure by locking all doors and windows on your way out. Have an available, adult neighbor identified that the sitter can call on for help if needed. Post emergency numbers near the phone (9-1-1 and the Poison Center 1-800-222-1222).
  10. When you return home each evening, ask how things went. Tactfully correct any mistakes you think the sitter may have made. 

When you hire a babysitter, you’re hiring a person you’re willing to trust with the responsibility for your child’s life. Be smart when deciding if a sitter is truly right for the job, no matter the time of year.

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