Wooing the Perfect Sitter

For interviews, choose a clean area of your home, offer the sitter something to drink or eat and occupy your kids with naptime or a movie, so they're not constantly intruding during your talk. The sitter will be able to get an idea of your lifestyle, without being exposed to the madness of your family's latest cooking experiment. These subtle touches will let your ideal sitter know that you respect her and her time. Finally, remember that sitter 'dating' goes both ways '- if you expect her to come in a nice outfit, take a little time to look presentable, as well. For excellent reference and interview questions, check out Sittercity's list.

Start Smart
A sitter who feels comfortable in your home is a happy sitter '- and she's more likely to excel with the right preparation. For the first job, ask your sitter to come an hour early so you can give her house and life tours. A house tour includes all the safety features of your home, including fire extinguishers, child safety locks, alarms and hazardous materials. A life tour includes a look at things like your kids' quirks, favorite toys and annoying habits, like the blanky-that-never-dies or a Harry Potter addiction. For teenage sitters, don't forget to point out the real essentials '- the snack drawer, the fridge and the remote controls, if you've okayed TV-watching.

Find ways to personalize your sitter's experience. Put her birthday on your family calendar. Ask about her favorite foods and pick them up when grocery shopping. These steps may not seem like a lot, but they are the difference between ho-hum loyalty and near-fanatical dedication to your family. Who wouldn't want the latter?

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