11 Questions to ask a new sitter

Katherine - posted on 12/05/2011 ( 1 mom has responded )

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Re-Post from The Stir


Now that our son is almost 8 years old, we've gone through our share of sitters. It seems like every time we find the perfect one, they're off to college or some other adventure. But there is one upside to the constant sitter choice: I've had a lot of experience interviewing sitters!

I find that the more specific and open-ended my questions, the more I learn from the sitters' answers. Are you nice? Do you know how to put a kid to bed? The answer is always going to be yes! But if you ask a sitter to share tips, experiences, and opinions, you get a much better idea of what they're like as a sitter. Here are a few of my favorite questions.

Are you certified in CPR? This is probably the only yes-no question on my list. If the answer is "no" but the sitter says they've learned how to do CPR, ask them to tell you a little bit more about how they learned.
What games/activities do you like to do with kids? You might want to ask about activities with kids your own child's age. The answer should give you an idea of how much the sitter typically engages with the kids they watch. In some cases, that may not be a big deal -- maybe you just need the sitter during bedtime. But if you expect more out of a sitter, this is an important question.
Are you willing to do some quick meal prep and/or clean-up? Again, the importance of this question is up to you. But either way, it's a good time to make sure they're okay with your expectations.
What's the latest time we can get home? For daytime or nighttime sitters, punctuality is important for both parties. The sitter may have other obligations after the job, or they may have children of their own waiting at home. It's best to clarify that ahead of time.
What's the most number of kids you've watched at one time? Got a lot of kids? Make sure your sitter can handle them all!
What about special needs? If your child has special needs, ask about any experience managing those needs. For example, do you have any experience operating an epipen?
How many years' childcare experience do you have? Not that it's the worst thing in the world to hire a novice, but knowing how much sitting experience the applicant has can help you, the parent, manage your expectations of the sitter.
Ask for references from within the last 6 months. Right? If you're hiring someone you don't know, or who wasn't recommended by a friend, find some people who can vouch for them!
Tell me about an emergency you've encountered as a sitter and how you handled it. If the answer is, "Ummm, I've never had to handle an emergency!" ask about what they would do in a hypothetical situation.
Do you have any health issues I should be aware of? Better find out now if there are any health problems that may prevent them from providing the best care possible. If there are, but you think the sitter is otherwise a perfect fit, maybe you could have a conversation about how to manage the health issue.
What brings you to babysitting? Why is this person a sitter? Is it because they love children? Or because they come from a large family and feel confident in that role? Or are they studying child development in college? This question helps you find out what they are bringing as a sitter.

And now -- relax! After you've gone through all these questions, you'll have a pretty good idea of what kind of sitter you're hiring.

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Medic - posted on 12/05/2011

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That is actually really helpful, I suck at asking sitters questions. Obviously I am not a great people person, so I just kind of studder my way through it.

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