By Kristy MacKaben
Letting the kids stay up past bedtime could have been forgiven. Bringing piles of homework to finish wasn’t too big of a deal. But hanging out with a boyfriend in the house without permission was the last straw. Finding a better babysitter was a must.
The Shepards of Pasadena held onto their babysitter as long as possible. She was, after all, their neighbor. But the 16-year-old sitter didn’t pay much attention to their daughters, Kaylyn (now 11) and Natalie (now 7). She usually sat at the kitchen table finishing homework while the girls played, and rarely helped them with baths or tucked them into bed. So they were finally forced to find someone new to babysit their kids.
“She was a nice girl, but she just didn’t engage with my children,” says mom Brandi Shepard. “She had a boyfriend over one time and that didn’t sit well with me.”
Like the Shepards, most parents struggle with finding the perfect babysitter, or at least a sitter who clicks with the children and follows the rules.
Whether it’s dinner on Friday night, a bike ride on Saturday morning, or just the ability to go shopping alone, there’s always the need for a babysitter. And most parents don’t want just anyone watching their children. They need someone reliable, responsible, respectful and who, above all, likes (or even loves) the kids.
Most parents want more from a babysitter than just “a presence in the home,” Shepard says. Safety is the most important factor, but babysitters should actively interact with children, says Sally Herrolz, executive director of Safe Sitter, a national not-for-profit organization, which partners with churches and schools to offer babysitter training to adolescents.
“They have to like kids,” Herrolz says. “If that’s not the case, the babysitter will have a miserable time and so will the children.”
So, where do parents find this perfect person and how do they know whether he/she is the right fit?