My goodness. This is such a hard thing to do when they are little. It's very hard to leave them becuase one has no other choice.
My kids are 2.5 and 6 and my husband works from home. I only need someone that is good and responsible. I asked my friends and the good babysitters have the afternoons full. The pay here is $10/hr, but as soon as they see where I live and the cars then, the $10/hr that we talked about on the phone jumps to $15/hr....no way Jose I want someone like that at my house. Just with that, it tells me what kind of people they are. Same thing happens when we need a job done in the house
I need to find someone ASAP! I commute to Miami for school and a lot of people do that too from my county. Maybe I can look for a teaching student who wants to make a little after school...I think that's my answer! Thanks moms!!!!
Not to frighten you, and I do hope there are good sitters out there (and I'm sure there are, we just never had much luck), we heard a lot of enthusiastic "I love children and this is a career for me" type of stuff when our kids were little. We even had one sitter we secretly called "Mary Poppins" and couldn't believe our good luck when we found her. She was the one who slept on our couch while our kids played unattended outside. Check references, drop in unannounced every once in awhile, and if ANYTHING doesn't feel right, go with your instincts and don't be afraid to question things. I will say that the best babysitter we had hardly cost us a thing. My husband went out of town for what started out to be a 6-week job that turned into 18 months. Our regular sitter (at the time it was "Mary Poppins") couldn't sit in the evening, so we advertised free room and board in exchange for occasional babysitting. A very nice 22-year-old Christian girl answered the ad. She had a regular day job and a boyfriend who lived 5 minutes away. She got a free room and meals in exchange for wearing a pager at all times and agreeing to come home immediately if I had to go out on a delivery. She made dinner for the kids and after that was free for the evening unless I called. If she had plans that couldn't be interrupted (i.e. a big concert or something), she just notified me in advance and I would line up an alternate. It worked really well for a little over a year and my hubby got home the weekend before she got married. She had our son and daughter as ring-bearer and flower girl in her wedding and now has 3 kids of her own. We still keep in touch, and my kids and I have actually babysat her kids on occasion.
If you have a spare room, it might be an option.
I live in a small town (5,000), and my babysitter is a teenage boy. He's the son of a woman I grew up with, and they live across the street from us. His mom is a 3rd grade teacher, and her classroom is across the hall from my son's. The boy is a very responsible kid. He walks across the street at 6am so that I can get to work on time. He prepares my child's breakfast. My little boy (8 yrs old) thinks he's wonderful. We struck gold. I also pay him very well, because I don't want to lose this situation.
When I lived in a larger city (200,000), I had my child enrolled in Montessori. I think that if I had a babysitting situation that I wasn't comfortable with, I'd opt for a good daycare or a private school that takes little ones.
I have 4 kids, 8,6,3 and the baby is 10 months, I have had GREAT sitters, we have not had a problem yet, I do drop in unannounced, call and pick the kids up at different times b/c my schedule is erratic, I believe in checking references (it has helped screen out a couple of weirdos) but most people look after kids cause they like it, not b/c it is a fallback job. It takes a special person to watch children, my favourite of daycare, sitters, nannys, is actually home daycares, ie someone who runs a small daycare out of their own house. It has worked well for us in 3 different towns and and over 8 years now and we have never had a problem with a home daycare, (had a weird nanny once, no big issues but she left after a couple of months and I wasn't sorry) plus you can check with the other parents who take their kids there and that is always reassuring. Organized daycare services are ok too but I find they are more rigid with mildly sick kids (ie a cold) etc than the home ones.
Don't be discouraged, many sitters are fab!! Just find someone who views it as their JOB not something they do a few hours a week to make a couple of extra bucks cause those folks are going to leave you in a lurch at some point.