Finding the perfect babysitter can be extremely stressful. After all, you’re opening up your home — while you’re not there, no less — and asking someone else to take care of the most precious person in your life. Trust is a must! So when choosing a great babysitter stands between you and your date night, here's how to find the ideal sitter:
Try a nanny placement service. Looking for a Mary Poppins of your own? There are services that handle the vetting process for you. You just tell them what your needs are and lay out the cash. A service like this might cost you a pretty penny, but your kids are worth every cent. Go online. It’s much cheaper than a placement service and there are tons of babysitting services on the Internet, so check them out. Companies like Sittercity.com and Care.com let you sign up (for a fee), and check out sitter profiles or place an ad of your own that sitters can answer. Other sites like Craigslist have been known to work (and they’re free) but if interviewing strangers freaks you out, this might not be your best option. Talk to other moms. The most personal and comfortable way to find a sitter is by word of mouth. It’s also a great way to find out about available sitters faster and you can rest easy that people you actually know recommend their services. And, yes, posting a request on Facebook totally counts as word of mouth — in the digital form!
Once you have your candidates lined up, consider what qualities are important to you: Does your sitter have to live close by? Does she have to have a car and a clean driving record? How will she handle disciplining your kids? There are a million questions you can ask, but the one that should not be skipped is her list of references. Do yourself a favor and follow up with all of them, because no one can tell you details of a potential sitter better than a parent who has already used her. And most moms will be thrilled to share their experiences — the good, the bad, and the ugly!