You dream of a night out: a romantic dinner, perhaps followed by a show or a walk in the park. A night without the children? This is possible with a baby sitter, but finding one you feel comfortable with can be a trick.
Bobbie Gish, Lawrence, found her baby sitter, Nicole Eudaly, 16, Lawrence, through their church. Eudaly helped at First United Methodist with Vacation Bible School. By getting to know children at church and distributing fliers with her name and desire to baby-sit, she quickly got jobs.
Gish also has found baby sitters by asking friends and neighbors whose children are of baby-sitting age if their child would be interested in baby-sitting. Older nieces, nephews or friends of the family often also make good baby sitters.
Once a parent has found a potential baby sitter, there are certain qualifications that the sitter must meet.
Gish looks for a person who is responsible, loves children and has a pleasant personality. It is also important that the children like being with the baby sitter. Finding a good baby sitter is not always easy, Gish admits.
"You are lucky if you find someone who you feel completely comfortable with that you can use a lot."
Gish got lucky with Eudaly. She found a sitter who has experience working with children and a positive attitude. "I love kids so much," Eudaly said, expressing the main reason she enjoys baby-sitting.
Once a sitter has been found, agreeing on pay is important. This sum varies according to the age of the sitter, the sitter's experience, the number of children and their ages and the job requirements.
Because Eudaly is older and baby-sits Gish's young twins and sometimes all four children, she is paid $5 an hour. New sitters often start as low as $1 an hour to play with children while parents are home. "I'm happy as long as I get paid something," said Crystal Burton, 12, Lawrence, who is a young sitter wanting to gain experience.
Rates vary so much that it is important that the parent discuss payment with the sitter in a straightforward manner.
As a parent, make sure the baby sitter has all the necessary information and understands exactly what is expected. Don't assume a person who is new to the home automatically knows how the microwave runs or the habitual way you wiggle the door to secure the bolt. The American Red Cross recommends parents do the following for the baby sitter:
- Tour the home and introduce the sitter to the children and pets.
- Identify and demonstrate the door locks, heater, light switches, fire alarms and special hazards.
- Identify household routines.
- Provide safe transportation, or escort to and from the baby sitter's home.
- Provide instructions about food for children and the baby sitter.
- Have children bathed and instruct them to cooperate with the baby sitter.
- Provide emergency numbers and information sheets, including name and number of neighbor for emergency calls.
- Guarantee return time.
- Provide a safe, orderly home.
- Allow telephone use for short, local calls.
- Discuss use of television and/or audio equipment at negotiated times.