You should feel free and comfortable to ask anything; after all, this is your child’s welfare we are talking about. Ask specific questions about the candidate’s interactions with children, how she’s handled certain situations, and the like. I always like to ask about punctuality, too. This is the opportunity to get a feel for whether this person may be the right fit and if you want to continue moving along with her.
Meeting My Child
Assuming the references check out, I next schedule a meeting between the potential new sitter and my child. The meeting takes place in my home. I will prepare my son the best I can, by telling him the person's name and that she is coming over to see where he lives and what he likes to play with. Once she arrives I will make the introduction. I will show her around, pointing out where my son likes to hang out and where his favorite snacks are, for instance. I will go over how we do certain things, and our routines. I want all his babysitters to be comfortable handling anything that may arise while I am out.
This is another instance in which I have a list ready so I do not forget anything that may be important. Discussing all of these details in depth at this time will make it a lot easier the first time I go out and leave him with this person. I will not have to take the time then to go over everything from scratch, and instead we can just do a review.
This is also the chance to see how she interacts with him. I pay close attention and try to feel the vibe. Usually I can tell at this point if a particular candidate would be a good match for my son.
Joining Us for an Outing
For those sitters who might take my son out, I will invite them to go on an outing with us. This is where I will train them on how to be outside with him, which is a very different situation than just staying indoors. There is a lot to know: He likes to scare birds, he may not want to hold your hand, he will constantly ask you how many more blocks you’re going. How will the babysitter react to all of this--or whatever else may come up while outside? His safety must be the priority. This person will need to be on high alert the entire time. I need to feel 100% confident that this sitter is up to this task, and she needs to be prepared for the unexpected with him. I will guide her through this outing and see how she feels, and again ask if she has any questions or concerns.
The Babysitter’s Commute
Where a sitter lives is important to me. Just because you are identifying candidates via a school or center it does not necessarily mean that they live nearby. I need to know that all candidates can independently get to and from my apartment. I need to make sure they understand that they will need to leave enough time for the trip. If you have a younger child, you will not want to have to pack them up to pick up or take the sitter home, especially at night. I find that most sitters can come and go on their own, but this is something I like to confirm before hiring someone. It is always good to make sure you are on the same page about anything that you think is important.
This is my process, the steps I like to go through when choosing a sitter for my child who has special needs. Every question is important and no detail is too small to mention. Make your lists, and do whatever it takes to put your mind at ease. Who we leave our children with is one of the most important decisions we make as a parent. We need to feel comfortable and confident with our decisions so we can go out and have peace of mind.