I always have to explain my child’s cartoon quotes to strangers, but when her babysitter can finish her “Thank you for nothing,” with her own “You useless reptile!” it’s pretty awesome. The same goes for any other children’s movie or book, of course.
9. He or She Brings Stuff
And I don’t mean homework or a book to read once the kid is asleep (though these are fine, as long as they okay it with you beforehand). I mean he or she brings a cool board game or craft to play with. My daughter’s new babysitter brought a camera and let her take over 100 pictures—and my daughter loves to take pictures. That was just amazing.
8. He or She Doesn’t Text Around Your Kid
And that’s how it should be—attention on the child, not the gadget! The same goes for the computer and the television, unless approved by the parent first. And if a sitter says that he or she doesn’t even watch TV, that’s a dream come true.
7. She or He Considers Fruit a Snack
Sitters who immediately want to feed kids pizza or hotdogs are okay, if it’s just once in a while. After all, it’s easy to make, and not everyone is a cook. But if you have fresh fruit and veggies in the house and that’s what she suggests as a snack for your kiddo, fist-pump.
6. She or He is Unafraid of Pretend Play
Sometimes you get a bit uncomfortable playing pretend in front of people. I get it. People give me weird looks all the time for playing pretend animal rescuers or Vikings or whatever with my kid. But when a sitter can adopt a goofy voice and be adventuresome with a child right in front of you, you know you have a winner.
5. He or She Respects Your Parenting
People who tell me they spank kids—or just show me how strict they are with their own extreme yelling—aren’t going to be left alone with my child. Ever. But a sitter who asks up front how we handle discipline and respects our choices is golden. After overhearing our sitter fix a problem—firmly but in a friendly way—I couldn’t help but nod with approval.
4. He or She READS
And suggests that books be read! This is a key part of our daughter’s life. I don’t expect people to read to her; we read for hours a day for fun. But if they want to—and they do it well!—there’s nothing more awesome than that.
3. He or She Gets Kids
He doesn’t freak out when there is a mess; in fact, he relishes the opportunity to get messy—and then helps the child clean up later. She doesn’t yell at the kid for running; instead, she suggests you go outside to run instead.
2. He or She Asks Good Questions
Sitters need to know about emergency numbers, allergies, and things that are off-limits in a home, for sure. But if he asks about, say, what kind of music the kid can listen to, where the first aid kit is, when to call, or what snacks are okay, they probably know what they’re doing.
1. He or She Gets on Your Kids’ Level Immediately
If your babysitter is immediately in “child mode” when he or she pulls up to your house, ready to play and speak to your child like he or she is the most important person in the world, he or she is A-OK in my book. Our recent sitter did just this, and it was more than I could hope for.