While it would be nice to always choose a trusted friend or relative to care for your children when you can’t, it’s not always possible. That’s why it’s important that you take the necessary precautions when choosing a babysitter for your family.
Who should I call? The first place you should start when choosing a babysitter is to find someone that your children already know and like. If that is not possible, the next step is to ask trusted friends and family for recommendations. If you are still stumped here are some other sources: teens or adults from your neighborhood, children of co-workers or older siblings of your children’s friends.
Should I interview the babysitter? All babysitters that you choose for your family should come with glowing recommendations from people you know and trust. Don’t be afraid to ask the potential babysitter for the names and numbers of people they have babysat for in the past. When you call for a recommendation, ask what they like and dislike about the sitter and also ask how their kids like the sitter as well.
When you finally choose a babysitter, and schedule him or her to come over and do a shift watching the kids while you do something around the house. Do some yard work, finish that home improvement project or spend the afternoon working on your hobby. That way your kids can get used to a new babysitter before you leave them alone and you can observe how the sitter interacts with your children – the ultimate job interview!
How do I know if the sitter I choose is doing his or her job? There are many things you can do to know if your sitter is caring for your kids in the manner in which you’d like them cared for. First and foremost, trust your instincts. If you have a bad feeling about a potential (or current) babysitter, even if you cannot identify why you have this feeling, it’s best to find someone else. The second indicator is your children’s reaction to the sitter. Do they get upset when you say the sitter is coming over? If so, ask why. The babysitter might be too strict or maybe doesn’t pay enough attention to your children while you’re gone. Another thing you can do is call home while you’re out or even stop home unexpectedly to see how things are going. You can also use a nanny-cam to see first hand how things go while the sitter is with your children.
By doing your homework before hiring a sitter and staying on top of things while you are out you’ll be on your way to helping your children develop a healthy relationship with their caregiver allowing you to get some much needed “adult” time.
Teen Safety Issues
If you are the parent of a teenager, you already know that this is a time of independence and you are probably experiencing the fact that your teen no longer turns to you first for advice and help. This is a common experience for parents of teens, but that doesn’t make these years any easier.
Teenagers are growing up, but to them it probably isn’t fast enough. They tend to do a lot of things to assert their independence such as explore alcohol, drugs and sexual activity. Teenagers also often have an “It can’t happen to me” attitude which drives them to participate reckless behaviors such as erratic driving. There are, however, things you can do to limit their involvement in potentially dangerous behavior.
Alcohol and Drugs. Studies have shown that teens that use alcohol are more likely to get into car accidents, have problems in school and get into fights than their peers who do not use alcohol. The bad news is, however, that teens often find a way to get alcohol and drugs if they really want it, but don’t make it easy for them. Do not purchase these items for your teenaged children (or any minor for that matter). Teens who don’t drink often cite their parents’ influence as the main reason for saying no, so don’t think they don’t listen to you. They just might not want you to know it!
Internet. Even the most conservative teenagers can be swayed by an online “friend”. Make sure you talk to your teenagers about the dangers of online predators. Furthermore, keep the computers in a common area of the house so you can randomly monitor what your child is doing online.
Sex. Increasing numbers of teenagers admit to participating in sexual activities in their own home while their parents are home. You can prevent this by setting up a few ground rules in your home. For example, friends of the opposite sex are only allowed in common areas of the home. Furthermore, make a practice of making random swings through the home (no excuse needed). Finally, do not go to bed until your children’s friends have left.
While you cannot completely shelter your teenager from every possible danger, there are some things you can do to help them avoid some of the most common ones.
Child Safety Tips
- When you hire a new babysitter, lay down the house rules right away. Be upfront about your feelings concerning topics such as visitors and phone and internet use.
- Trade babysitting with friends who also have children. Ask them to watch your kids one night and then return the favor so they can get a night out as well.
- You can never leave too much information for your babysitter. Here is a list of important information every babysitter should have before you leave the house:
- Information on where you’ll be and how to contact you
- The names and physical descriptions of each child
- Your children’s doctor’s name and number
- The address and phone number of your home as well as the nearest main intersection
- Emergency contact names and numbers
- Information about the children’s bedtimes and bedtime routines
- Tricks to help calm fussy babies and toddlers
- Lock up your alcohol at home. Even if you trust your children, there will be other teenagers in your house. Locking it up will remove the temptation.
- Giving your teenager some freedom will help them explore their independence while still being able to depend on you when needed
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