You’ve your night out booked and you’re more than ready to throw on your glad rags and get a night away from the kids. But how do you choose the right babysitter, so you can have enough peace of mind to actually enjoy your night?
“Finding a babysitter can be really tough,” concedes Fiona McKeon, of SureSitter. “We are parents ourselves so we understand only too well the complexities involved in finding childcare. The key is to find a babysitter you can trust and who works for your family.”
Referrals Are King
So if you’re not in the fortunate position of having someone reliable you can call on when the need arises, how do you find a babysitter or someone new you can trust to mind your children?
“Always ask for references from previous jobs,” says SureSitter Chief Executive Sinead Asple, pictured below. “And don’t be afraid to give the referees a call to ask about the sitter. Parents need to feel safe and secure with the sitters looking after their children and sitters also need to be able to build a bond with the children they are looking after so that it’s a good experience for all involved!”
Trust Your Gut
If you’re using a babysitter for the first time, it’s worth having them meet the kids before you use them. Or if this isn’t practical, get them to arrive an hour before you head out.According to Fiona, a parent’s gut instinct is key here. They can watch how the sitter and children get on together and interact.
Surprisingly, there is no law in Ireland setting out a minimum age a child/teenager must be before they can babysit other children. Indeed, many of us count babysitting as one of our first jobs as young teenagers, but is it safe to leave a 15- or 16-year-old in sole charge of young children?
According to Sinead, this is best taken on a case by case basis. “It’s very much dependent on the parents’ preferences and particularly the individual babysitter,” she adds. “If a parent knows a babysitter personally then they are likely to be more comfortable having younger sitters mind their children.”
However, she admits that all their listed sitters are 18 or over, explaining: “We believe this gives better support and comfort to both parents and sitters.”
What Should I Pay My Sitter?
The rate of pay for babysitters varies depending on a number of factors including location, the age of the babysitter and their experience. According to Sinead and Fiona, rates are generally higher in urban areas. For example, average rates in Donegal and Mayo are around €8 per hour, going up to €11 in Galway and Cork and then up to €12 an hour in Dublin.
Don’t Ask Too Much Of Your Sitter
Talk through what you need with your babysitter to make sure you’re all on the same page, but know their limits. Your babysitter should primarily be focused on minding the children, not getting bogged down with household tasks. However, often parents find it useful if sitters are able to help with preparing light meals or snacks for the children or tidying up toys. Sinead says: “Take into account factors such as the number of children, how active they are and how long the sitter will be looking after them.’’
Of course SureSitter is the best place to start in your search to find a great babysitter!
Here’s the full article on RSVP.