Top Babysitter Tips: Finding and Preparing for a New Babysitter
Finding a babysitter that you trust can be challenging, especially when it comes to entrusting your youngsters to a new sitter or to the care of a stranger. The challenge may be even greater in a Frum household, where you want to ensure that your babysitter serves as good role model for your children, that they are observant or at least familiar with Jewish tradition, and where the number of children and the age range may supersede that of an ‘average’ household.
The good news is that there are many expert tips on how to keep your children safe-and-sound while you are out and on how to find and prepare for a new sitter. To find great childcare for your kinderlech, follow these guidelines.
Ten Top Babysitter Tips for Your Jewish Home
Babysitter Tip #1: To feel confident in selecting a babysitter, ask for recommendations from family members, friends, or members of your shul or Jewish community. You can also go to reputable sites such as FrumCare.com where you can see the babysitter’s profile, check references, and read firsthand testimonials from families who have used the sitter before. The more often a babysitter’s services have been used or requested in the past, the more likely they are a worthy candidate.
Babysitter Tip #2: Safety comes first when it comes to your children, so be sure to do a complete background check, call references, and trust your gut instincts. Verify as well if babysitter candidates have First Aid/CPR/Child Safety Training, if they know how to care for an infant, and if they seem confident to know what to do in an emergency.
Babysitter Tip #3: When prepping a new babysitter, leave yourself ample time to provide them with all the information they will need while you are out. This includes:
- Showing them around the house/apartment
- Introducing them to your kids
- Providing them with contact information
- Providing them with emergency phone numbers
· Reviewing safety precautions
· Showing them the first aid kit/fire extinguisher
· Medication instructions (including inhalers, allergy medicines, aspirin/Tylenol, and prescription medications)
- Informing them of food allergies, foods your children will/will not eat, and foods your children should/should not eat
- Touring the kitchen, pointing out where your milechik and fleishich utensils are, which sinks are designated for meat and dairy, and where they can find snacks for themselves
· Reviewing bedtimes, pre-sleep/naptime rituals, and favorite toys
· Specifying babysitting duties (cooking dinner, helping with homework, giving baths, reminding them to daven or say Kriyas Shema, etc.)
Babysitter Tip #4: Review household rules for both the sitter and your children. Let your babysitter know if friends are allowed, if they can smoke, talk on the phone, use your computer, go on the Internet, take your kids outside, let the kids play in the backyard, let your children watch TV, drive your children somewhere, seat belt/car seat protocols, and areas of the house that are off limits.
Babysitter Tip #5: Make sure your babysitter knows where you will be, how to contact you, and when you expect to return.
Babysitter Tip #6: Encourage your babysitter to call if they have questions or any concerns at all.
Babysitter Tip #7: Look for these key qualities of a good babysitter:
- Attentive and caring towards your children
- Play and interact with the children
- Children warm up to the sitter
- Trustworthy in an emergency
- Able to creatively problem solve
- Able to enforce your parental rules
- Sensitive to your household’s level of Jewish observance
- Respectful of family privacy, personal issues, and religious traditions
Babysitter Tip #8: One of the best ways to determine if a babysitter is a good match is to gauge your children’s reactions. If your kids cry at the mention of being left with the same sitter again, if they appear anxious, withdrawn or unhappy about their caregiver, it’s probably time to look for a new babysitter. On the other hand, if your kids appear happy, comfortable, and request the same babysitter again, it’s time to nurture that relationship and consider making it a long-term position.
Babysitter Tip #9: Beware of babysitter red flags!
- Babysitter is secretive, unforthcoming, or uncommunicative
- Babysitter does not follow your instructions, rules, or requests
- Children are left unattended
· Children are afraid of the babysitter
· Too many avoidable accidents
· Babysitter is critical of your children or parenting style
· Babysitter sitter does not show up or frequently shows up late
· Babysitter lies or steals
Babysitter Tip #10: Sadly, abusive conduct by a babysitter is a reality which parents must watch out for, even if the babysitter is Orthodox, well-known in your shul or community, or has a good reputation. Stay alert for any out-of-the-ordinary bruises, bumps, or marks on your children after they have been left under the care of a babysitter and encourage your children to be forthcoming with you about anything that makes them uncomfortable. Any signs of neglect or abuse should result in immediate termination and possible reporting to the proper authorities.
While many Frum women never make it to shul on Shabbos or Yom Tov while they tend to their youngsters at home or in the park, consider looking for a Shabbos babysitter when the kids get a little older. In fact, taking time to daven, say Tehillim, and strengthen your relationship with Hashem is a wonderful way to recharge your batteries and go back to your kids refreshed, upbeat, and more relaxed. Another popular strategy is to swap babysitting duties with your spouse by respectively attending an earlier/later minyan or shiur.
Similarly, stay alert for any upcoming parenting or Torah lectures you are interested in attending so that you can book a babysitter in advance.
By following these expert guidelines, you can rest easy knowing your children are in safe hands when you leave them in your sitter’s care.