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What to look for in a babysitter

Finding someone you trust to take care of your children can be a difficult task. Whether you need a full-time or weekend babysitter, the person you choose will be responsible for your most precious treasures. Here’s how to hire the best person for the job.

Where to look

Think about what type of person you envision in the role. A high-school teenager saving to buy a car? A college student majoring in education? An older adult looking to fill his or her days?

Then, ask people you trust for recommendations. Try posting “help wanted” signs on the community board at the supermarket or library.

The interview

Screening applicants is the most important part of finding a babysitter. Have the applicant fill out a basic job-application form (available at office-supply stores). This makes the interview seem more formal. Find out about his or her hobbies and school interests. Does he or she seem like someone who would be a good influence on your children?

Make sure you get (and use) references. Teachers, friends’ parents or a community/faith leader are good choices if the applicant hasn’t babysat before. Call the references to find out if the teen or adult is responsible and trustworthy.

Trial run

A good way to “test” a babysitter is to have him or her watch your kids while you’re home—just try not to be too overbearing.

After you’ve hired your sitter, come home earlier than expected one evening or pop in for a “surprise” check. This will reassure you that all is well.

Finally, don’t forget to ask your kids what they think of a new babysitter. After all, they are the ones who have to spend time with him or her.