Get to Know Her
No matter how you find a candidate, you should always interview her, says Dr. Clarke-Pearson. Do it a few weeks before you actually want her to work to give yourself time to check her references and to meet with other people. Write down your questions and encourage the sitter to bring her own, suggests Samantha Wilson, author of The Babysitter's Handbook. Make sure you get this info:
- What's her experience? Has she ever cared for children the same age as yours?
- How many kids is she comfortable watching at one time?
- What would she do if your baby came down with a sudden fever?
- What health issues or allergies does she have that you should know about?
- How is she planning to get to and from your home? Does she drive?
Ask her for a list of three people whom you can call to check her credentials (these could be teachers or other families who've hired her). You should also take this time to give her a rundown of your rules: Is she allowed to use your computer? Talk on the phone? Take your baby for a walk?
When it's time to talk money, make sure you know your area's going rate. In big cities like New York, Boston, and Dallas, sitters get at least 10 dollars per hour, while the price in smaller towns is more like five to eight. If you have more than two kids, plan to add a dollar or two to the standard rate.