There are regulations in place (or pending) for basically everything on the planet.

Except for babysitters.

I know that many local schools and libraries, churches, fire departments and Y’s offer classes in Babysitting 101. Are they adequate enough?

Indulge my fantasy for a moment. I propose a standardized test that prospective babysitters would be required to pass. Which of course means a course has to be given with certification issued upon completion.

Hello reality.

Who would be responsible for designing the course?

Who would be held accountable for testing/scoring?

Who would pay for all of this? (ah, the ultimate demise of my goal).

Because I was not one of the fortunate ones who could rely upon a trusted family member for babysitting, I designed an interview process that includes my version of the Babysitter Quiz. Here are my basic expectations.

The candidate should come to my home prepared which I define as;

  • Dressed appropriately (casual but neat is necessary)
  • On time
  • With a notepad
  • Making eye contact
  • Having questions
  • Showing a general interest for/and comfort with my child (who I’ll refer to as ‘Harry’ for the purpose of this article) once they are introduced
  • Bringing an updated copy of their Infant/Child CPR training 

I only interview a prospective sitter when Harry can participate and while the two of them are interacting I casually pose some questions;

  • If you need to use the bathroom what will you do with Harry?
  • How many times would you be willing to re-build a tower of blocks once they tumble?
  • Can you imitate the sound of a choo-choo train falling off the tracks?
  • May I see you perform CPR and the heimlich maneuver on this doll?
  • If you smell smoke what would you do first? second?
  • What might happen to Harry that would cause you to call me?
  • Can you stay for another 10 minutes or so?

I leave the room and listen and walk around and keep busy and pop my head in every now and then. I don’t watch the Nanny Cam because all sitters assume they’re being watched anyway. Then I offer the babysitter a beverage and a cookie and ask them to join me at the kitchen table.

And then I remain quiet.

The next few moments are quite telling for me. I have never hired someone who waits for me to lead them in conversation. I have hired a number of fabulous young women and even some young men who have chatted away with me or Harry or both.

I also love when someone is comfortable enough to ask for a second beverage but I know that sounds silly.

Many of the sitters who impressed me most posed specific questions regarding work hours and days off and salary and access to car seats and strollers and having visitors. The best-qualified candidates always asked insightful questions about Harry wanting to know his likes and dislikes, eating habits, naptimes……

In the end though we ultimately rely upon our instincts to guide our choices.

Since the day will probably never arise when babysitters are subjected to rigorous regulations it is incumbent upon each of us to impose our own. Come to think of it when mothers unite everything is possible.



Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

Lisa Leshaw

Lisa Leshaw has worked as a mental health professional for the past 31 years. She currently conducts Parenting Skills Workshops, Group Counseling for Blended Families and Empowerment Circles for Women. As a consultant, Lisa travels throughout teaching Communication and Listening Skills, Behavioral Management Techniques and Motivational Strategies. To de-stress she performs in children's theatre and plays piano whenever requested. She is hoping to either write the next memorable musical composition or Great American Novel!