If being a full-time nanny has taught me one thing, it’s that people love their kids. And the decision to hire a babysitter can be a scary one for parents. You are, after all, leaving your children alone with a complete stranger. How do you do it? Luckily, there are some questions you can ask both your babysitter and yourself so you can feel more comfortable. Here is a list of the 7 most important questions to ask before hiring a babysitter.
1. Do they seem genuinely interested in childcare?
One of the most important questions you should ask a babysitter is why they are interested in childcare. You can ask questions like “What do you like about watching kids?” or “Why do you want to be a babysitter?” Pay attention to your candidate’s body language, their tone of voice, and general demeanor.
It is important to keep these answers in mind but remember that most of us really do like kids! In my several years working as a nanny, I have never once met a person who was in the business for any other reason.
2. What are their goals?
With that being said, I have also met very few nannies who feel that babysitting is their one calling in life. We love our work, but it is not our end goal. Chances are, your nanny will be the same way. Maybe it is their year off from school or they are planning on going into full-time childcare afterward. Whatever their story is, make sure to ask questions about it. You can inquire about their schooling, interests, or goals. Make sure it is a person that you would be happy with children looking up to.
3. Are they a good role model?
Science has continually shown us the importance of role models in children’s lives. Depending on the amount of time they spend together, your babysitter will teach your child how to behave and begin to set an example of young adulthood. Ask yourself: “Would I be happy if my child grew up to be like this person?”
Not sure? Ask your babysitter who their role model is. That way, you can get an idea of the person they themselves try to be and the things they value.
4. How do they handle disciplinary situations? Do they have the same values?
This question is good to ask a babysitter since it allows you to see whether their values align with your own. People run their families in many different ways and your nanny may have different ideas than you. A simple question to ask them might be: “How would you handle a situation in which child wasn’t obeying you?”
But don’t write an otherwise qualified candidate off for a small difference in style. Simply explain how you do (or do not do) things in your family and see if they would be OK adjusting accordingly.
5. Do they have a clean online profile?
Any nanny who is serious about finding employment is going to make sure that their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are squeaky clean. Anybody who hasn’t taken the time to clean up party photos, crude language, or other unsavory posts is probably not serious about being a babysitter.
6. Do you get along with them?
Is the nanny somebody who you respect? While you obviously do not need to be best friends with the person watching your kid, you will probably spend a lot of time with them. In fact, the best situations I have been in are when I have been my employer’s second or third “daughter.” So it sounds harsh, but if you do not click well with the person, then it is probably not the right match for either of you.
7. Do you have a good gut feeling about them?
In the documentary After Tiller, Dr. Shelley Sella remarks that she does her work because “The woman’s body is smarter than a doctor.” Whilst the quote refers to reproductive rights, I think it has a much larger meaning as well. Our bodies and our intuitions tend to know things that our brains do not. If you are still hesitant about leaving your child alone with the prospective nanny, then there is probably a reason for it. Trust your intuition.
PS: Sorry for the delay in posting. I’ve been going through some difficult situations lately that I will likely update you all on in the future!