The questions you should ask every babysitter

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

Leaving your kids for the first time with a babysitter can be a little nerve-wracking, but it doesn't need to be. 

As long as you know they're capable of safely looking after your children, that's what matters most.

Here are seven questions you should ask them before stepping out the door:

Do you have up-to-date first aid qualifications?

Anyone who looks after kids really should have a first aid certificate. And if they don't, they need to get training, because when you're faced with a medical emergency it's terrifying enough even with the necessary skills. Without them it could be tragic.

It's vital to know what to do if a child has an allergic reaction or if they're choking, having an asthma attack or if they've swallowed poisons, fallen off the trampoline or having a seizure.

Do you have a driver's license?

This isn't always necessary, unless you need your babysitter to pick kids up from school or take them to after school activities, but it's good to know, particularly if you need to stay alcohol free to drive them home at night.

If they do drive, there's no harm in asking if they've had any serious driving fines, like using their mobile phone, speeding or drink driving. And while you're at it – do they have a criminal record and have they had a Working with Children Check?

How much is your fee?

Talking money is always tricky, but necessary. Have a chat to other parents and find out what's the going rate for babysitters and also consider what type of service you're expecting. If it's more involved, like cooking dinner and collecting kids from school, you might consider a higher rate. The same rate hike applies if you're going through an agency, rather than a friend of the family.

What is your approach to discipline?

Ask them if they would ever consider hitting your children and if they reply "yes" then promptly fire them. Make it clear how you'd like them to discipline your children when you're not there. Or if you'd rather they didn't, that's fine too. It's important they know what the ground rules are for your children and what authority they have to step-in when needed.

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Are you comfortable with our routine?

Make sure they've been given a clear set of instructions regarding meal times, device use and bedtime, so they can run the household smoothly while you're out. If easier, you can write a list so they have a clearer understanding of what's meant to happen, and for older kids it'll make it harder for them to take advantage of the babysitter's kindness.

Do you know who to contact in an emergency?

Remember to exchange mobile numbers and to also provide them with alternative contact numbers, in case they can't get in touch with you. Include the numbers to call in an emergency – these could be your neighbours', friends or family members, doctor, school and the restaurant (if you're out to dinner).

Also don't forget to leave some cash in case they need it for food or transport.

Will you be inviting anyone over to the house?

Check with them if they're planning on inviting over a friend or partner. It's up to you if you're comfortable with additional guests, but it's important to know who will be in your house. If you don't ask, then you'll never know. The same goes for social media use.

If you'd rather they didn't put images or videos or Snapchat stories featuring your children then let them know. It's easier for everyone, if you're all on the same page.