Parents, SafeCircle

What to consider when looking for a babysitter?

There is so much the think about when it comes to finding a babysitter, and some things are not always the most obvious considerations. Whilst SafeCircle Sitters would always advocate the use of an adult who is qualified in childcare with professional experience this alone is still not always the perfect recipe for an ideal babysitter and there is more to it than these basics.

We’ve pulled together some of our top considerations for you to think about when you start your journey to finding a babysitter;

Are you and your children ready?

The first big question to ask yourself when you start looking for a babysitter is “are you ready?”. The idea of heading out for a date night or dinner with friends sounds brilliant but its no fun if you’re going to spend the whole night worried about your children or if your children are likely to be distressed at having been left.

There is no right or wrong answer to this question and its certainly not the same for everyone. It is however something to think about before you start looking for a babysitter. If your children often wake in the night and can only be settled by you then maybe its not the right time, but if your children enjoy going to nursery or other childcare settings then perhaps they are able to trust other adults enough to be settled in your absence?

Either way, be sure both you and your children are ready before looking for a babysitter and don’t feel pressured into heading back out socially before you’re ready.

Pricing and costs

When looking to book a night out the costs may be a consideration for you, and whilst this is important to ensure you can afford this you also need balance out the cost of what you are wanting from a babysitter. Remember the old saying ‘you get what you pay for?’ Well its true in babysitting as with anything in life. Prices for a babysitter can range anything from £5ph for a young teenager to £15ph + for an experienced childcare professional depending on your location and sometimes the time of year.

SafeCircle advocates for parents to use an adult qualified in childcare, but as a parent this is your judgement call. We would recommend you consider the issue of ‘you get what you pay for’ when looking at pricing for babysitters as many babysitters with cheaper prices are cheap for a reason. They are usually young inexperienced and unqualified individuals and therefore the quality of childcare you will receive is questionable and raises questions around increased risks.

Interaction and engagement

When you look to find that ideal babysitter consider their ability to interact and engage with your children. Babysitting has long been thought to be a teenagers job where they sit in the home and watch TV, however what if you need the babysitter to prepare them meals, or get them ready for bed and settled down for the night? What if you are looking for early evening childcare prior to bedtime? Is the babysitter able to engage and interact with the children to keep them calm, stimulated and happy or are they likely to use TV to pacify them so they can be on their phone?

Babysitting like any childcare job is a huge responsibility where the babysitter is solely responsible for the welfare of the children in the absence of parents, so when looking for a babysitter be sure you have someone who’s sole attention will be on your children and engaging with them positively.

Availability

This is one which catches parents out time and time again. They will have found a babysitter via a friend recommendation or perhaps online using a directory, who looks great in everyway. They have been to meet the children and you’ve booked them to enjoy a night out with friends for the first time in months.

Then on the day they call to say they’re sick, or their cars broken down or any number of other reasons why they will no longer be able to babysit for you today. At this point parents will call their friends to cancel the plans and stay home, missing out again.

Babysitters like everyone else will have days when they are ill or are unable to do the date you want to go out meaning you miss out, as you have to work around their schedule. The best way to combat this is to have a pool of babysitter that you have to hand and can contact to try and avoid missing out. This way if one babysitter is unavailable you can try another one. If you choose to use an agency to find a babysitter they usually have a selection of babysitters who could fill in at last minute, but either way minimise your risk of missing out by having access to more than one babysitter.

Insurance

This isn’t something which parents often think about, which is understandable due to the negative association but the insurance of a babysitter is just as important as the insurance of any other service you use.

When you look for a new cleaner for you home or perhaps someone to valet your car, you would check to ensure you are using a legitimate individual with public liability insurance should anything go wrong, so why wouldn’t you check this when using a babysitter who is providing you with a paid for service in your home?

The same rules apply with babysitting and we recommend that parents ensure that their babysitter is insured before using their services. Insurance is important to ensure that should there be an accident or incident in your home involving your child that this covers the cost of attending court for compensation or otherwise. A babysitter not holding valid insurance should be questioned as any professional person providing such services would consider this as an essential part of their professionalism. This insurance should also be with a company who is reputable within the childcare industry, as public liability insurance from a fleet car insurance company won’t to have the correct cover for a childcare service for example.

Ofsted Registered

When you think about looking for a babysitter, I’m sure you will have been recommended by friends and family to find someone who is Ofsted registered. That’s because as an Ofsted registered childcare provider (whether that’s a childminder or nanny) they are monitored and checked so you can be confident in their skills and ability. Wrong!

It might surprise you to know that Ofsted registration does not mean that the individual you are looking to use as a babysitter is monitored and checked. In fact Ofsted only check a small random selection of their register every few years, so some individuals have been registered with Ofsted for over 5 years and have never been through a re-inspection. Ofsted registration also does not mean that person has a current clear DBS check as there is no one from Ofsted checking these individuals on a regular basis so they wouldn’t know of any new crimes committed by anyone registered, and they are not alerted to new crimes.

Many Ofsted registered childcare providers are fantastic at their jobs and we have many with us at SafeCircle but when looking for a new babysitter we advise parents to ensure they complete their basic checks and not to rely on Ofsted registration as being the mark of a good childcare provider as its not always the case.

Next step

This blog has covered just some of the things that we recommend parents think about when they are considering looking for a babysitter beyond the basics and we hope this has given you some food for thought. We aim to help parents find safe and high quality evening childcare by sharing information and if you would like to know more feel free to get in touch.

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