Trying Out a New Babysitter: What to Know

By Kaitlin Hurtado on May 15, 2024

As a parent, you are going to find yourself relying on alternative forms of childcare at some point in time. For some families, daily afterschool daycare is the norm with parents working full-time Monday through Friday. For others, their childcare needs may come in the form of a personal babysitter to either work a regular schedule or a few hours here and there as needed. With babysitters, you can soon figure out that each situation is unique. Even the most seasoned babysitter may not be the best fit for your family and situation. Trying out a new babysitter? Keep reading for what to keep in mind during the trial period.

Photo: Pexels

Outline a trial period

Depending on your situation, you may be looking for a babysitter that you can rely on long-term. Rather than having your child enrolled in a daycare, a babysitter may be a better fit for your family and situation. With that in mind, you want to put effort into finding a babysitter that fits your needs and expectations, rather than hiring the first babysitter that applies for the job.

Trial-and-error is to be expected – just like any job, babysitting will come with on-the-job training as every child and situation is different.

As a parent, you may want to initiate a training period, or trial period, as your babysitter gets to know your child and the expectations you have on them as a babysitter. Rather than having your babysitter start out with a typical shift, consider having a short introductory shift where you leave to run a quick errand where you are readily available to return when needed. Similarly, if timing allows, you may want to be there for your babysitter’s “trial period.”

For example, if you are able to work from home, you may want to have your babysitter have their first couple of shifts while you are home and working. This doesn’t mean you have to supervise them directly in the same room as they are with your child, but it allows you to be available for any questions and concerns that may pop up, or allows you to guide them through your child’s routine.

Introduce them to your child’s routine 

Having a new caretaker in your child’s life can be a big enough change for them already, if your babysitter changes a routine they are settled into, whether on purpose or not, it can create even more issues as your child tries to navigate a sudden change in their lives. Help everyone adjust to the situation by sticking to any possible routine your child follows.

Depending on your child, the slightest change in routine can upset their day, causing anxiety or stress that could have been avoided. This can result in trouble falling asleep during naps and bedtime, or more frequent temper tantrums.

Write out a routine for your babysitter – this can be a rough outline of your child’s afterschool routine. From snacks and study time to when they usually have their screen time and playtime. If your babysitter is watching your child when they are expected to sleep, whether for a midday nap or bedtime, let them know of any sleep-related routines your child has. Is there a limit to screen time in the hours approaching bedtime? Does their sleep routine include turning on a sound machine, special lights, or reading a short story?

Getting used to a new adult can be overwhelming for your child. Getting your babysitter to follow a routine that is familiar to your child can help them adjust to the change quicker when there is one less thing changing in their lives.

Solve problems before they begin

No one understands your child like you do. Your babysitter will not know the easiest way to get your child settled down from a tantrum, or what gets your child to listen to instruction quickly – but you’ve likely figured out a list of tips to help you and your child navigate some tricky situations.

For example, your child may just be more prone to tantrums, especially as they adjust to their new babysitter and without your presence. Rather than leave your babysitter to figure out how to best calm your child down, prepare a few tips that you know have helped your child calm down in the past. Is there an activity that helps your child focus and settle down? Is there a stuffed animal or blanket that comforts your child? If the tantrums are coming from your child feeling anxious with you being away, let your babysitter know it’s ok to call you for a few minutes to have you talk to your child directly and work through their anxieties.

Help your babysitter out by preparing them with any and all of the know-how for their job – it will only benefit everyone involved as your babysitter gets used to their new role.

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