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Tips for Protecting Your Child When Choosing a Babysitter and More

Hiring a babysitter to cover a Friday night dinner-and-movie date is a familiar routine for many parents.

Unfortunately, this is not all babysitting entails. Some parents might need a full-time babysitter or nanny, while others require part-time help with regular hours. In any case, there’s one common denominator: You’re leaving your children alone with someone else.

Here are some tips to consider when choosing a babysitter you’ll entrust with your home and children:

Conduct interviews. Choosing a babysitter may seem informal, but parents are essentially hiring an employee. Develop a checklist for an ideal babysitter, and conduct interviews to determine each candidate’s qualifications. 

Request references. Ask for references relating to a babysitter’s previous experiences, and contact them to ascertain strengths and weaknesses. It may be helpful to request references from families that closely resemble yours in terms of the number and ages of your children, and their particular health needs.

Evaluate. Ask sitters to come over and interact with your children. How do they give direction? What is their approach to discipline, feeding and putting your children to bed? How do your children respond? 

Contracts. A contract is an agreement that clearly defines expectations. Contracts make sense for full-time nannies and part-time sitters who work less than 30 hours a week, especially as taxes may apply. But a friendly agreement can also be beneficial for teenage babysitters who watch your kids for a few hours a week. Such agreements are generally non-binding for people under 18, but can help establish clarity and a sense of responsibility. These agreements should include:

  • An hourly rate or salary
  • What you expect the sitter to do
  • Things the sitter should not do, like have friends over
  • Rules you’d like the sitter to enforce, such as no dessert without eating dinner.

Estate Planning. If something were to happen to you while a babysitter is watching your children, what would happen to them? Making legally sure your children would be provided for and looked after by a trusted loved one may be the most important safety precaution parents can make.

If this article raised more questions than answers, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm. We are your local Williamsburg law firm here to help you and your family.