By Lynn Perkins, founder and CEO of UrbanSitter
The season of warm weather, popsicles, and playing outside after dinner can be a fabulous break from the school year -- for you *and* your kids. It can also be a great time to take a load off. If you are hiring a babysitter this season, here are a few key qualities to look for.
CPR certification is a huge plus in any babysitter, especially one who might be accompanying your children to a swimming pool this summer. Many sitters are child/infant CPR-certified, but if you fall in love with one that's not, why not request she complete a course before hiring her? You want to feel completely secure that the person you hire can handle an emergency if it comes up. It's also a good idea to reiterate the importance of calling 911.
Your kids should look forward to a babysitter coming. Of course, younger kids will probably still give you a little guilt as you walk out the door, but when the sitter arrives with art supplies or sports equipment or board games, and (most importantly) a smile on her face, most children will greet her or him with celebrity-like adoration.
There's nothing worse than counting on a date night only to have the babysitter flake. Once you find a great babysitter, stick with her. There's real value in knowing you can rely on a sitter to arrive on time, engage the kids, enforce your rules, and respond quickly to any texts you might send. And the mutual loyalty will pay off in spades.
For most parents, a babysitter who does dishes, folds laundry, or wipes down the counters gets major kudos (read: repeat business and a higher hourly rate). Though some sitters are very well versed in this area, others are not. If you want more than babysitting done, ask her up front and be specific.
Some sitters are in such high demand they're never available when you need them. Expanding your network of sitters is critical. Perhaps you are a stay at home mom who simply wants a few morning hours to hit the gym -- this might be the perfect schedule for a local college student. When a fabulous sitter is always busy, she's not so fabulous. Find a few who are available when you need them and give them repeat business.
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