How to Keep a Good Sitter

Once you find a sitter, hold on to her!

By FamilyTime


Finding a reliable, cheerful, and resourceful sitter is every parents' dream come true. Your children don't whine when you leave them and you can enjoy yourself without worry.

Once you find this treasure, do everything you can to make the job description clear and then exert a little effort to keep him or her coming back.

When you hire a sitter, be clear about fees, hours, and expectations. During the interview, walk him or her through the house and point out exits, fire extinguishers, telephones, fuse boxes, and danger areas (steep cellar stairs, a backyard pool).

Go over the house rules with the sitter. If the kids are old enough, do this in front of them so that everyone is clear about television viewing, video games, snacks, baths, and bedtimes.

If you have pets, let the sitter know if they need to be fed, walked, kept out of certain rooms, or anything else specific. Not all people are comfortable with animals, and so if your dog is shy or protective, explain to the sitter how to handle him.

Make sure the sitter knows where the emergency phone numbers are. These should include:

  • your cell phone(s)
  • another adult your children know and trust who can be called if you can't be reached.
  • pediatrician
  • poison control
  • police and fire
  • taxi company if the sitter does not drive.

Write down your home address so that the sitter can reference it should she have to call a taxi or the police.

While You Are Out
Once you leave, don't look back more than once or twice. If this is the sitter's first time with your kids, or if one of them was particularily upset, call after about an hour to check in.

Let the sitter know that she can call you, too, if she feels unsure about anything.

If you find you will be later than you expected, call the sitter. Chances are he or she won't mind, but you never know what they might have planned for later in the afternoon or evening. Also, knowing you will late keeps a responsible youngster from worrying about you!

The Follow-Up
When you get home, ask how the evening went and note how responsive the sitter is. Make sure the sitter gets home safely — particularly if you hired a teenager.

After the sitter leaves or the next morning, ask your children how they liked the sitter. Find out what they did together and if the kids would like him or her to sit for them again.

It's never a bad idea to call the sitter the next day to say thank you. This is particularly appreciated if you sense he or she did an outstanding job.

By the same token, a tip on top of the agreed-upon fee is welcomed. It’s not always necessary, but if the night was late, the hours long, or there was a problem, the sitter will be grateful.