CARETAKERS AND BABYSITTERS
You are obviously putting a great amount of responsibility into the hands of this person. They are alone in your home (or theirs) with your children. You cannot do a background check on someone who is under 18. Hiring a babysitter/caretaker that you feel confident in is important. Don’t put your children in a situation that you’re not comfortable with simply because you do not want to hurt someone’s feelings. You do not need to explain yourself if you do not want to proceed.
Here’s what we can do to better qualify our choices and feel comfortable with those we have decided to trust:
- Be wary of anyone who offers – especially frequently, to babysit your children. If someone is working to gain your trust, convince you of his or her credentials/experience – ask yourself, why this person is so eager to babysit? It may seem ridiculous, but unfortunately this ploy has worked for many offenders.
- You know the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover”? When it comes to trusting someone with your children – be as judgmental and critical as you want. Granted, you probably don’t need to tell them why you’re not comfortable, but if you don’t like their mannerisms, tone of voice – whatever it is – it’s OK to not allow this person to be alone with your children. You deserve, and your children certainly deserve, someone that you believe will do the job right.
- Ask for non-family references, call them, and make sure you talk to them. Ask them questions regarding how they know them, how long they’ve used their services, the ages of their children, and if they ever have any concerns about how their children were cared for.
- Make the rules clear about no visitors – you may even want to know if your babysitter is dating anyone or has a spouse and make rules clear about communicating with you if, for some reason, someone would need to stop by (forgotten phone, keys – whatever it is). Unfortunately, sometimes the abuser isn’t necessarily the babysitter – but her boyfriend or husband.
- If your child is being cared for in their home find out who else lives with them – older children, extended family, a spouse. Get details on their ages, occupation etc and if possible – plan to meet them.
- Check your local sex offender registry not just by name, but location. In 2013, a Massachusetts state audit discovered 119 licensed home day care addresses matched the home address of sexual offenders.
- Communicate your preference on taking your children out of the home – some caretakers may be responsible for transporting children to/from school or activities, but make it clear that unscheduled trips out of the house are not allowed.
- Let your babysitter know that you have educated your children about body safety and privacy, and that they know to tell if someone tries to do something that is inappropriate. Let them know how you want them to proceed regarding needing help with bathroom hygiene, bathing, changing clothes etc.
- Do a test-run while running a short errand, or start by having them spend time with your children while you’re home. Let them play with your children while you get some house/yard work – this way you can gain a sense of the dynamic, how they truly engage with children and also, you can be there to answer any questions that may come up – where do you keep band aids, do you want them to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, what fork/spoon does your toddler demand at every meal etc. We have all become experts on our children and all children are different – it’s only fair to help a new babysitter understand all the quirks of your children (especially young children) and home.
- When you can – come home early or stop back unannounced because “you forgot something” – it will not only give you a sense of how things are when you’re not expected, it will also give your babysitter a sense that your leaving and returning is not always predictable.
- Get to know your babysitter and listen for cues that may be red flags- trouble at home, getting fired from another job, issues with their love life, or a partner/spouse with problems, etc. – even if they don’t mean to, they may bring trouble to your home and expose your children to danger.
- At the moment that you feel you have lost faith or trust in your babysitter/caretaker – you sense that they are not being honest or truthful – cut the cord. It is better to wonder if you were wrong to break it off, than to continue the relationship and find out later that your instinct was right.
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect.