Choosing a babysitter can be mentally and emotionally straining. Having done babysitting for more than 10 years and now being a mother, I can attest to the fact that it can be a difficult process for all parties involved. Because of this, I would like to share a few things that have helped me as both a mother and a babysitter.
Hire someone you can trust. Often, people are able to hire someone they know. In this case, you should only hire them if you know they are trustworthy.
If you are unable to hire someone previously known to you, interview the potential babysitter BEFORE the day you need them. Don't be afraid to ask all sorts of questions either. Ask for references, and use the references provided. It is better to interview many people than it is to pick the first person who comes along and have to possibly deal with major issues later.
Also, if you are interviewing someone you don't know, let them meet the baby. As a mother, you can observe how the person acts toward your baby. If the baby cries, does the potential sitter seem patient or instantly put off? Watch how the interviewee responds to the baby. It is not perfect, but it will give you more of an idea of how the person will act when you're not there.
This process is important for the babysitter as well, because it gives them the opportunity to get to know you and baby. It is also important so that the baby will not feel as if he is being left with an absolute stranger.
Before hiring, be sure to explain EVERYTHING you expect the babysitter to do. It is not fair to the person you are hiring to let them expect only to have to watch the baby and then deal with your irritation that they did not wash dishes. If you did not tell them it would be expected, then it is not a part of their job.
The babysitter has been hired. Now what? Write down the baby's schedule. Yes, write down everything. It is not fair to expect the babysitter to remember everything you say. Write everything down and keep it somewhere easily found, such as on the fridge.
Write down emergency numbers as well. The pediatrician, your cell, your spouse's cell, these are important numbers. Let the babysitter know whom to call first. Leave this list somewhere like the fridge as well. (Note that a letter or power-of-attorney is often needed for others to take the baby to emergency hospital visits if you are not available.)
Remember to relax.Trust has been established by this time. Your babysitter is ready to do the job assigned. Do not stress. A check-up phone call is understandable, but there is no need to constantly call. That helps no one.
If everything seemed to go well, now you have a babysitter to keep on your list. However, maybe baby and babysitter just don't quite hit it off. It is fine to keep searching. Either way, I would recommend having a list of at least 3 or 4 babysitters you like, in case someone is unavailable.