how not to get your babysitter stolenIf you have kids then you know that a good, reliable babysitter is really hard to find. Like holy grail kind of hard.

And with no family around, we depend on our babysitter!

But when you live in a neighborhood with tons of kids, it's inevitable that another parent will see your awesome sitter and want to use her (or him) too, which hey, I'm all for sharing. But I've seen sitters get stolen left and right. Talk about uncool.

So here are my tips for making sure your babysitter doesn't think about moving on.

1. Pay well. Find out the going rate for sitters in your neighborhood and pay a little more. It doesn't have to be a lot, but the extra cash will help them want to book you over another family. If you can't pay more per hour, then give them a little tip, which can make a big difference. And don't nickel and dime them: I always pay up if they don't stay for the entire hour, or if they leave a little early because I made it home before the allotted time.

2. Have good food. Make sure your pantry is stocked with good snacks or foods that you know your sitter likes. Even though my babysitter usually brings her own food, I know she likes healthy snacks, so I make sure to have them on hand so she's able to eat with the kids if she wants. But snacks they might not get at home are always a plus too.

3. Come home on time. If you say you're going to be home at a certain time, make sure you're there. You expect them to arrive in a timely fashion and you should show them the same courtesy. If I'm going to be late, I always call or text to see if it's okay. And if you do end up being late, for whatever reason, make sure you reimburse them for that time.

4. Leave activities for the kids. I always try to have a variety of crafts, activities, even movies on hand for my sitter so that they're not scrambling to try to occupy four rambunctious kids. If I can't have something ready, I'll leave a list of ideas of things that she can do with them. Often times, it's that extra effort that makes them want to stick with your family.

5. Make sure your tech works. These days, it's important to have WIFI and a working television (or movies) so that they can occupy themselves after the kids are in bed. Sure, they could bring a book, or homework, but I like to make sure that the TV and DVD player are set up, and that they have the WIFI code if they'd like to use the Internet. Just be sure you have secure settings and safety measures set up before you hand over the Internet to your tween or teen sitter.

What do you do to make sure your sitter doesn't leave you for another family?

 

Image via Alan Light/Flickr