Over the last few weeks, I have shared the importance of making time for and taking care of yourself. Equally important is making time for we – investing in your marriage and making time for the two of you as a couple is extremely important, and often times even more difficult to do than making time for yourself. There are two keys for making ‘we time’ happen: 1) make the planning easy with these 75+ Date Night Ideas and 2) having a reliable babysitter. Finding a babysitter you trust enough to leave with your child the first time can be terrifying. Here are my tips, tricks and advice for how to find a babysitter, and more importantly, keep the great ones coming back!
How to Find a Babysitter for Date Night
The toughest part of date night, and usually the single biggest hurdle to making time for you and your husband as a couple, lining up a babysitter. If, like us, you are not fortunate enough to have any Grandmas living nearby, you must trust your child in the care of someone who isn’t family. This can be super scary. We are fortunate that at least one Grandma is close enough to cover our overnight excursions, but for the regular, bi-weekly date night, we needed to find a local sitter.
We found our first date night sitter through Care.com. I placed an ad for a semi-regular sitter for date nights, and the occasional day time hours. I heard from plenty of crazies. But, you can also search for sitters in your area and make outbound contact as well. Sign up for a paid membership and get access to certified background checks, as well as the ability to contact sitters directly (vs. through Care.com).
This is how I found our first sitter – and then she had a younger sister, and then they had a younger cousin. As soon as one graduated from college, another family member was more than happy to step in and fill their place. Before using our sitter for the first time, I met her in person, requested and called her references, and read her background check on Care.com.
Ask your local mom friends, the parents at your child’s preschool, parents with older kids, your neighbors. Many have older nieces or nephews who may babysit, or can at least refer you to a sitter they have used before. You may even ask the teacher or assistant teachers at your preschool, day care or Mommy & Me activities if they are interested in some extra money by babysitting.
Local High School Honor Society
We have never used this one ourselves, but my brother-in-law swears by it (it helps that he is also a teacher at his high school!). Call your local high school, and ask for the sponsor of the school’s honor society. They will provide your information to a list of reputable, high school honor society members interested in babysitting.
Church Youth Group
Are you active in your Church community? If your church has a youth group or youth Bible study, it may be an awesome source for babysitters. Better yet – you likely already know the potential babysitter and their family, and your kids will be familiar with them too.
Local Recreation Department – Babysitter Training
Our local recreation department holds regular babysitting training and certification courses for teenagers. Reach out and see if you can get the names of newly certified sitters or put your name on a list of interested parents.
Tips for Before the First Night Out
To make your first babysitting experience successful – both so you are able to relax and enjoy your time out and so that the babysitter is comfortable caring for your family – here are a few tips I recommend before you use your babysitter for the first time.
Meet Them in Person
Don’t be afraid when looking for a date night babysitter to interview people face to face and meet them in advance of using them for the first time. Just because you aren’t offering a full-time job, you are still entrusting this person with your children. Meeting someone in person, even if just for 30 minutes, tells you so much more about them than just speaking with them over the phone. Have them come over and interact with your children while you casually observe. Trust your gut… then check their references!
Always Ask For and Check References
No matter where you find them, and I can’t stress this enough – always, always request multiple references and call them all. I met with 5 different sitters before I left Big M with anyone other than family or our neighbor, who is her God Mother. I interviewed them in person, asked for references, and called the references. One of the girls who I liked in person, had a good background check, but had horrible references – people who when I called them either a) didn’t remember who she was, or b) warned me not to use her.
Discuss Hourly Rate
While what you should pay your babysitter can vary dramatically by your location and how many kids you have, on average, most are paid $10-$15 / hour. Ask your babysitter what they charge. This is a great discussion to have during your in-person meeting. Always agree on an hourly rate in advance of scheduling your sitter.
We pay our babysitter $15 / hour for daytime care and $12 / hour if everyone is sleeping. We also have 3 kids ages 4, 2 and 6 months, which requires a lot more work than older, elementary-aged kids. And we are heavy handed tippers, typically rounding up to the nearest $20. Babysitters can definitely be expensive, and the more experienced they are, the more they should be paid. Remember, this is someone you are trusting with your children. And if they are great, you want them to take your call when you call!
Make a Babysitter Guide
Before you leave, write down important contact information and any pertinent instructions for your babysitter. I like to fill out this one page form, and go over it with the sitter before we leave.
I include our contact details, emergency contacts (like our neighbor who is home and the kids’ pediatrician). I also include where we are going in case they need to reach us there. Be sure to also include any house rules – both for the sitter and your kids. Is there a limit you impose on screentime? Is the sitter allowed to have friends over? Do all the toys have to be picked up before bed?
Lastly, if there are additional notes I need to leave that don’t fit in the scheduling comments, I add them in the notes section. Do your kids have food allergies she needs to be aware of? Does she need to make them dinner? Is there a special blanket your child has to have for bed at night? Maybe one of the kids needs to take medicine before bed?
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Do you have a regular go-to babysitter? How did you find your babysitter? If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out all the posts in my Making Time for Me series, as well as 75+ Dates for Date Night Jar – makes an awesome anniversary gift! You can find all of these, and more great ideas, on my Date Night board on Pinterest!