Let me tell you that as a mother of three beautiful little girls, babysitters are hard to come by. My husband and I went through several to try and find what was right for us. It's not an easy process, but don't let it discourage you. Children are too precious to be left with anyone. So why am I telling you this? I want to share some tips that I use to hire a babysitter for my little angel.

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Use a plan of attack. This will be different for each family. You want to have an idea of what you are looking for in a babysitter. It all depends on the needs of your family. These are some that are important to our family.

• Are they available to come to my home?

• Do they know how to cook nutritional meals?

• Are they certified in CPR?

• Do they drive? If so can their vehicle accommodate my children?

• Do they have a criminal background?

• How old are they? Young is good for a short time out, but we prefer older for longer periods of time.

• Can they interact well with my children?

• Do they have other jobs that could become a problem?

• Do they clean up after playtime or dinner? For some families, this isn't important. Take into consideration what time you will need them.

• Will they follow your schedule and routine at home?

• How are their references? Make sure that they are able to provide a variety, not just one or two.

Once you know exactly what you're looking for, it's time to start searching. You can place an ad in the local paper, but there's no surefire way to know who you'll be meeting. The best way for our family is to use an online search like Nanny. They managed to put us in touch with several different adults in our area who are willing to look after the children. You can view all their profiles and choose the one you think is right for you. This greatly simplifies the process.

After finding a few prospects, we found it nice to make that first initial contact over the phone. A lot of people go by their intuition and can get a feeling of a person just by talking to them. This conversation can give you the opportunity to go over some of the most important aspects of your criteria. If they don't meet some of your expectations over the phone, then you are not wasting your time by setting up a face-to-face interview. This also helps make the process quite a bit easier.