Often as parents we wait until we have a night out to begin to find childcare. I have spoken to several of my new mom friends about the challenge of finding good care at the last minute. As a planner, I of course wanted to figure out who might be a good caretaker for Cam way before they were actually needed. I opened two accounts, one with SitterCity and one with Care.com, and advertised my need for backup care for Cam. I received tons of responses and here is the process that I used to develop a list of 8 potential babysitters for Cam, just in case.
- Create a list of qualities you want in your caretaker. For me I wanted someone who wanted to work or did work with kids for their profession. Though a college student offers great flexibility, I wanted someone who had a natural desire to actually be with children not just make a few extra dollars. I focused my search on people who were full time nannies, had or were pursuing degrees in Early Childhood, Education, or Child Psychology, were trained in CPR and First Aid, and had a few years of experience.
- Screen out respondents by deal breakers. Before I even scheduled an interview, I checked availability, hourly rate, and desired amount of work. Often people are seeking full time or more regular opportunities than an occasional night out, so I wanted people that were open to being a backup or short notice baby sitter. I also knew the maximum per hour I could afford so those that indicated they were more per hour were automatically screened out.
- Conduct Phone interviews with top 10-15. I used the same questions and conducted phone interviews with my top choices. This allowed me to see if I felt comfortable with their experience and their energy towards their work. Here is a list of great questions to ask from Sittercity.com that you can choose from.
- Do an in person test run. Our top 3 I had come to watch Cam for one hour while I was in the house. It allowed me to see how they would do, ask a few more questions and see how Cam interacted with them. I chose to make this a paid hour to allow it to be the best use of their time.
- Create an ordered list of your top choices to try for sitters when needed. I start with my first choice whenever I need a sitter, then proceed to choice 2 if 1 is not available. Not all 10 have been cleared through a test run but if I find that 1 and 2 are unreliable, I don’t have to start at square one to find alternatives. If I rule out any of the top 3, I clear 4-6 and 7-10 with in person test runs.
Personal time is important to the sanity of being a single parent or any parent for that matter. Having people that you can trust and count on to allow you a night without the baby is important. This process makes it easy to make sure you always have a person you can call.