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Friday, April 15, 2011

5 Things to Know When Calling for a Baby Sitter

I can't imagine how hard it was to be my baby sitter. I think back to what I put Ellie through when I was a little one, and I just shake my head. The girl was a saint. Just thinking of the stories the owner of BabysitEase, Peggy Murriner, hears from her baby sitters on a weekly basis could probably fill enough content for a weekly feature on this blog.

Besides the myriad of tales from the crib she has, Peggy - who is also a mother of 3 - knows her stuff about this business. Without further adieu, here's Peggy:

1. How do I prepare my babysitter for a successful night with my children? The evenings can be chaotic - trying to rush around and get ready for your date night and prep the babysitter with bedtimes, food schedules, special instructions such as the neighbor kid must go home by 8pm can seem daunting at best. We posted this awesome checklist (
http://babysitease.typepad.com/babysitease/2010/07/resour.html ) from Real Simple magazine that does a great job of allowing you to think of all these things in advance and post on the fridge so you don't have to remember every detail as you're rushing out the door - late for dinner.


2. Babysitters keep marriages together and strong. The importance of a date night is a continuing there with -successful married couples. In a recent project sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, couples were asked the secret of their successful marriages when faced with particularly stressful life circumstances. Unanimously -- and without prompting -- these couples (married anywhere from 10-71 years) all said "date night."


3. How much should I pay for a sitter? Working through an agency like BabysitEase helps set a market rate. If you are going with the junior high sitter from down the street, the rates should start at $5/hour but when you are paying for a highly experienced; possibly over-qualified college student, you can expect to pay $10-15 hour. BabysitEase rates are $9/hour for 1 child and $1 more for each additional child. Peace of mind is worth the extra few bucks.


4. How do you know the sitter is qualified? We think babysitters should be very qualified. The usual thing that most people jump to is CPR / First Aid certification and while a very high percentage of our babysitters are or have been certified at some point (certification requires an annual renewal) we rely much more heavily on personal childcare references (at least 3). We also look at social media - be sure to look for your sitters facebook / myspace / twitter accounts and see if they are posting things that could indicate questionable judgment.

5. How on earth am I going to leave my kids?! At least you may think that at first, but you can do it......I promise. Experienced, enthusiastic, and caring babysitters are going to take great care of the kiddos in your absence. If you're lucky the kids may even start to like the sitter more than you. That's right- I consider that a good thing! If you don't have one of those amazing babysitters in your life or she's just gone off to college, you can try using an agency. In addition to date nights and work week appointments it can also provide backup care for sick kids that the daycare will not take and overnights for a much needed weekend away.

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