You desperately need a night out. After all, this is your vacation too. Or maybe, you're in town for a friend's wedding and you need a sitter while you're at the reception. But, who you gonna call?
Fortunately, the hotel you’re staying at works with a local babysitting service for in-need parents like yourself. But leaving the kids with a new babysitter is never easy. Here's what you should ask the babysitter before you step out for the night:
1. Do you have a background check and references available? This is actually a question for the babysitting service you plan on using. Amy Gray, Executive Director of Marion's Child Care, a child-care service that works with major resorts in San Diego, says she thoroughly vets the sitters she employs and has already done the background check, followed up with references and verified a sitter's CPR certification before she matches them up with a family.
She also has a "detailed quiz that helps determine the 'common sense' ability of a caregiver in certain situations" and will send a password-protected bio of the sitter to the family ahead of time.
2. What's the hourly minimum and are there any additional charges? Again, this is a question for the babysitting service but you should know upfront about not just the hourly rate but the hourly minimum (usually three to four hours) and any additional charges like transporation, parking and meals.
3. Are you familiar with the hotel? Even if the sitter is a local, ask them if they are familiar with the hotel grounds. Be sure to point out any areas you want your kids to avoid (fountains in the lobby, paths down to the pool) or even parts of the hotel room (the minibar, sharp-edged tables, deep soaking tubs.)
4. What will you do with the kids? Obviously, you'll already have a plan of action for the babysitter and the kids for while you're gone but it's good to ask the sitter what she was thinking of doing. She may have some cool suggestions that you didn't know about. But this is also a good way for you to steer her away from activities you definitely don't want your kids doing.
5. What's your phone number? Ask the sitter for her personal cellphone number so that you can call her directly, instead of calling the hotel room. And be sure to give her your phone number so she can get in touch with you immediately. You can also ask her if she texts as getting pictures of your children while you're out is extra comforting.
There are other things you can do to put your mind at ease while you're out for the night. You can alert the concierge or front desk that you have a babysitter looking after your kids so that they keep tabs on the sitter while you're gone. You can also stay on-property if you feel too guilty about leaving your little ones. Having dinner and drinks downstairs is easier to deal with than going somewhere across town.
But always trust your gut. If something about the babysitter doesn’t sit well with you, then you’re probably right. Instead, order a movie for the kids and a glass of wine from room service for yourself.
Courtney 9:45 am on June 27, 2014
One of the questions we get asked ALL the time about our hotels is: Do all babysitters speak X language?