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Choosing a caretaker for your kids

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Posted: Monday, June 28, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 10:25 am, Thu Mar 31, 2011.

Parents make many important decisions with regards to their children. Though parents would probably argue all such decisions are important, it's clear some bear more significance than others.

One of those decisions that ranks among the most important is choosing a caretaker or babysitter for your children. Today's families are typically two-income families, in which both parents work full-time jobs. As a result, children are often left in the care of others, and just who parents choose to be those other people can be agonizing decision. However, there are steps parents can take to ensure they make the right decision with respect to their child's caretaker.

  • Observe. When interviewing prospecting caretakers, observe how they interact with your child, and how your child interacts with them. The caretaker-child relationship is a two-way street, so weight each of these interactions equally.
  • Ask around for a recommendation. You aren't the only parent who needs a caretaker or babysitter, so ask friends and relatives if they have anyone they can recommend. It might not hurt to ask coworkers, either, as they likely have a similar work schedule as you and therefore might be able to recommend someone who's familiar with your schedule and make the transition as smooth as possible.
  • Drop in unannounced. Regardless of how comfortable you are with your decision once you've made it, you are still going to have some concern in the back of your mind as to what's going on with your child at any given moment. Drop in unannounced to see just how things are going with the caretaker and your child when the caretaker isn't expecting you. If things are going well, this will help relieve some of the fears or concerns you might have.
  • Involve the kids. If kids are old enough to respond, ask them what they think of their new babysitter or caretaker. Kids are often brutally honest, so you might get the most accurate depiction of their time with the caretaker directly from them.
  • Get references. Never hire a caretaker or babysitter who does not come with references. And don't take the references on the applicant's word. Call each reference and ask any questions you might have. The references no doubt are aware thay are being used, and should not have a problem asnwering your questions. After all, they are parents, too.
  • Ask applicants about their own families. Many babysitter applicants will likely be on the younger side, either in high school or in college. Ask any such applicants about their own families, specifically whether or not they have any younger siblings whom they were trusted to care for.

As for older applicants, ask them if they have any children of their own, and whether or not their children are grown up. Many parents want their children to be the sole focus of the caretaker's attention, so be sure to ask if that attention is to be shared with the caretaker's own children.

While making a decision with regard to your child's caretaker can be tough, steps can be taken to make the process less stressful and one you are more comfortable with.

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