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Take Care Hiring a Babysitter

There is no doubt that parents need a break once in a while, whether it is a few hours during the day or a special evening on the town. Some have the good fortune to have family living close by to look after the children from time to time. For those who don't, hiring a babysitter is the tried and true answer. Calling a babysitter has been common practice since the Fifties and it is generally accepted as a reasonable thing to do.

However, common doesn't necessarily mean easy. There is a whole lot of care that needs to go into finding and then hiring the right babysitter. If we know anything at all in our highly informed society, it is that we can't take the safety or our children lightly.

The cardinal rule is to know the person you are hiring. Everyone, young or old, must be checked out thoroughly. If you are hiring an adolescent, it is important to contact the parents to introduce yourself and to find out something about the family. You will want to know how long the youth has been babysitting, the ages of the children she has been babysitting and the kind of experience she brings to the job. Nothing takes the place of references, at least three who can vouch for your potential sitter.


Babysitters should be 14 and older, although maturity is a factor. A young friend recently told me she started at 11 years old. I would suggest that this is a bit too young. One thing to keep in mind is that age and experience are only crucial when something goes wrong and that is when they count the most. A very young person can work out if nothing untoward happens but there is always the possibility that a problem will arise.

It is important to think about you want in a babysitter. Sometimes parents will set too casual a tone in an effort to put the young sitter at ease. The main reason you have a sitter is to keep an eye on your children. Set some guidelines about using the phone, using your computer, and using some of the appliances in your home. You may want to leave a snack rather than invite someone to "help yourself" to the fridge.

There are some things that you must insist upon. Babysitters should not have friends over while they are with your children. No smoking. No alcohol. No field trips without permission and advanced preparation. Children must not be left alone without supervision.

Pay rates for babysitting vary but the average rates seem to be $8 to $12 an hour, going up a couple of dollars after 10 p.m. Variables are the age of the children and the experience of the child sitter. Children 0-3 require care by a trained mature adult without exception.

There is plenty of information about babysitting on the Internet, so do yourself and your children a favour and check it out before you hire someone.