A Parental Checklist When Looking For a Caregiver

Now, I can only speak for myself obviously, but I thought it might be helpful to list out some things I'm doing, that I wouldn't have even known I would do in this search for a sitter.

First off, I got a lot of responses. Man, like 50 responses. That's a lot. Especially for a job that starts next week, that's only eight hours a week, and that requires someone look after my angels (hellions, really, right?) And it's not like I'll be able to pay a fortune. Just decently. So, this isn't like, the million-dollar-forever-job opportunity here. And I'm aware of that, I am. I'm not some corporation deducting points for silly things. I'm just a mom, yo.

That being said, here are some things that will cause me to write to someone else, and not you, based on your profile and response to my job.

- Picture.

Now, I know that a person can be a very responsible human being at points, and let loose at other times. I was that person. I understand. Still, with fifty people available to me, if your profile picture shows you half-naked with a beer pong cup in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I'll probably message someone else. Not fair, not fair at all, since I, myself, have pictures of me online exactly as I just described. And probably from when I was the age of most of my applicants. I get it. I just...well, I don't want to see it. If you aren't prepared enough to understand that these sites should have at least moderately respectful profile pictures, then maybe your decision making isn't the clearest right now. I'm sure you are totally awesome and responsible. But you made the wrong choice for me personally.

- Grammar.

I'm a journalist and an editor, but if you make a mistake here or there, miss a clause comma, end with a preposition, I don't care. However, if you message me using text speak on our first encounter, if you refuse to use capitals or any punctuation, I'll probably go with someone else. Why? Because I can, I guess. These things matter a little bit. I want someone who takes a little bit of effort in their daily lives and communication. They're going to have to be very focused to keep my kids in line, so if they can't take the time to use the shift key, they're probably not a good fit.

- Overly religious tones.

We're not a religious family. I know I live in Gainesville, but if you sign off with "Have a Blessed Day," or "Remember, He's Always Watching," I'm not going to contact you. I want to be the one to teach my kids about God, and I realize that a babysitter can be religious and not spread the Good Word (I'm interviewing someone on Sunday who mentioned several religious things in her letter to me. But the letter was professional, and not preachy. She just happened to have most of her experience in that venue. I asked her if she felt it would be an issue that we are not religious. She said no. I'll give her a try.) The thing is, if you can't keep yourself from spreading your faith onto me in a simple introductory email, perhaps it would be hard for you to not introduce God into my kids' lives. Probably by accident. But for me, that's a deal breaker.


Okay, so here's what is swaying me in certain sitters' directions.

- Disclosing of information pertinent to me.

This isn't an ego thing where I think I'm so special you should pick my want ad apart and respond just so. It's more like, I have these twins. They're scare quote spirited. Do you have experience with twins or multiple children in one household? Have you had to break up fights before? Deal with sibling rivalry? This job may involve some pickup from school. Have you driven kids before? Do you know what a five-point harness is? Is your car reliable? What is yourpertinent experience? It's great that you've watched your younger brother since you were 12, and taught music at the local Y for four years, but that just doesn't pertain to me.

- Giving exact, precise contact information in a readily attainable way, or skipping the site formality and emailing me directly with the information I've provided.

I'm really busy. I know that doesn't make me special and you're busy, too, but I'm going to more readily contact someone who's up in my face (respectfully, of course), than someone who left a message like this:

"Hi! I'm Terry! I'm a great fit! Message me back!"

I don't have time to go back and forth with you a million times. I set the ad up on Tuesday, and scheduled all my interviews on Wednesday. I need someone by next week. If I only have to call you or email you once directly, you win. I can't bother with the other way right now, I just don't have that kind of time.


Once you get here, there are a few other things I'll take into consideration:

- How you're dressed.

Now, like I said before, I'm not a corporation and this is not a cushy job. I don't expect the babysitters to show up in a suit, or heels or anything. Jeans are fine. But don't come to me obviously off a three-day bender. After you've been working for me for a while, if you want to show up in your pajama pants, I've got no problem with that. But not in the interview, please.

- How you interact with the kids.

This is obviously the most important thing. I want to meet with you in my home so that you get a lay of the land, and my kids get used to you in their space. I want to see how you meet with such tests as "What is your favorite color?" and "Who gets to go first this time?" And trust me, these are tests of the most strenuous variety. Traps everywhere. My kids freaked out no less than five times yesterday during a sitter interview. How you handle that is important to me. If you sit back and observe me handling it a few times, I'm okay with that. I like it. If you think you've got it, well, go for it. I've got your back. But you cannot lose it with them. And it will be hard. They get very loud and talk over each other and present their arguments like the Micro-Machine Man in a court of law. Good luck and Godspeed. These are important things because my kids will throw traps at you constantly. Can you avoid them? And better yet, when you step into one, can you disentangle.

- How well you like the kids.

I can tell. If you don't like my kids, but you still want the job because money and pretty easy and etc., I understand. I won't hire you, but I totally get it. I know if you like my kids or not. Just saying. And they're not for everyone, I understand. Hopefully another family will be a better fit.

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