Here is a common question I get: You are looking through helper profiles and they look promising, but how do you choose the right one for you? When you transition from looking at profiles, then phone interview and then in person interview and finally, a trial session, consider the following three key insights about the few critical things that make the relationship work:
1. The first and foremost is a sense of their genuine love of kids and a general positive attitude. Kids thrive with love and laughter and your house will too! If you go for someone you get along with and would be ok to spend time with, your kids are more likely to enjoy their time with that person too, and that becomes even more important when they get older and want a say in who comes to babysit.
2. Experience with kids is one of the next most important things especially the younger your child is, and ideally, some education in early childhood development. I have hired a number of people who had neither, but showed good common sense and capacity to rapidly learn on the job. I then used my own experience to get them up-to-speed on how to take care of my children, and that has worked well too, as in other cases I had to have people un-learn bad habits they had acquired previously. Safety training is of course also key, but that is something you can have the right person get after they are hired.
3. General good manners and initiative, and I can’t overstate the importance of that one. Being on time for a call or interview, promptly sending required information about references and training, washing their hands as they enter the house to take care of kids, saying please and thank you. I often test candidates during interviews by doing something – having coffee, meeting in a playground – just to see what happens when real life creates opportunities for them to act. Do they spontaneously pick up what was dropped? Reach over and lend a hand? People who don’t need to be told what evidently needs to be done are the best hires.
Bonus tip: I always hire someone who has both interests in common with me as well as some skills and passions that are completely different. The first makes it easier to get along, the second enriches our family lives forever and introduces our kids to great ideas about what else they could do when they grow up. Students are particularly great on that front, because nothing is as effective an advertisement for a given field of work as someone who is super excited about what they are currently studying.
Would love to make this the “5 secrets to choosing the best nanny or babysitter”, so please send along tips and ideas!