Virtually every parent has to face the prospect of leaving their children in the care of a baby sitter. It’s not an easy thing to do. How do you know you’ve chosen the right sitter? How can you monitor the situation? Here are 10 ways that you can monitor your sitter, and have some idea about what goes on in your home when you’re not there.
- I Forgot. The baby sitter has arrived and been filled in on all the necessities, and the kids are settled in for evening routine. You leave for the evening, drive around the neighborhood for 15 minutes or so, and then back home. This gives you opportunity to walk in unexpected and see how things are going, under the guise of having forgotten your bowling socks or some other important item.
- Home Early. This is just another way to arrive unexpectedly and see what goes on in your absence. Most sitters will not complain about ending the evening early, but you should expect to pay the same, as you would have, had you stayed out until the agreed upon time.
- Neighborhood Watch. If you have one or more trusted neighbors, you can ask them to keep an eye on your house and driveway. Give them your cell phone number and ask them to call you and report any unusual or unexpected activity.
- Neighborly Visit. You can ask a trusted neighbor couple to drop in while you’re away, to see what is going on in your home. Mention to the sitter before you leave that this couple sometimes stops by.
- Repeated Phone Calls. You can call the house phone, if you still have one, to ask for updates throughout the evening. This one is not particularly convenient for either you or the sitter.
- Camera Recording. You can set up camera and recorder monitoring systems in key locations around the house. This can be expensive, and some states are studying legislation to ban video recording without the subject’s knowledge, but for the moment, it is your right, because it is your house. One drawback is that you have to sit down and watch it afterward if you want to know what happened while you were out.
- Webcam and Smart Phone. Another way to use cameras to monitor activity in your absence. With current smart phone technology, you can choose to take a look in real time and see what is happening in your home.
- Nonexistent Cameras. You could lie, and tell the sitter that there are cameras monitoring activity in the home. This isn’t monitoring in the strictest sense of the word, but may be effective as a preventive measure.
- Baby Stroller Bumper Stickers. Have you ever seen a vehicle with a sticker on the back that says: “How’s My Driving?” with a toll free phone number? If you have a sitter who takes the baby outside your home in a stroller, you have a similar option. Several companies are selling stickers or plates for strollers, each with a web site address listed for reporting positive or negative babysitter behavior.
- Multiple Combinations. If you are very worried about your babysitter situation, you can combine two or more of the above methods, to assure that all goes well.
Whatever method or methods that you use for monitoring, it is suggested that you limit the monitoring to the first time with a new sitter, and only occasionally after that. The idea is to assure that you’ve hired the right person, so that you can come to trust them and have a good time while you’re out.