Editor's note: This article originally appeared on the Jacob's site, Nurturing Marriage. It has been reprinted here with permission.
Your spouse got tickets to your favorite concert and you are super excited. Your job? Find a great babysitter. Finding a sitter is never an easy task (or an exciting one, at that), but with these five tips, you'll be able to find someone you feel comfortable leaving your children with so that you can have meaningful time with your spouse.
So, how do you find a great babysitter?
1. Determine qualifications
Sit down with your spouse and decide what qualifications are necessary for you to find in a good sitter.
Do you prefer female over male, or does it not matter?
Does he or she have to be able to drive?
Do you prefer older or younger sitters?
Do you require a background check?
Do you want the sitter to be someone you've known for a while?
Does he or she have to be CPR certified?
2. Ask around
There are plenty of people to talk to about babysitters. If you feel you're running out of ideas, try a few of these:
Talk to all of your friends and ask them whom they use for a sitter.
When you are at the park, ask other parents whom they would recommend.
Talk to youth leaders at the local churches and ask if any of the youth are interested in babysitting.
Check the classifieds section in your local newspaper or community magazine.
Talk to child development teachers at the middle school and high school.
Put out a Facebook plea to all your friends in the area.
3. Meet your potential sitters (AKA interview them!)
Interview your to-be babysitters in a casual atmosphere. Call them up and invite them to meet you at the park or at your home — somewhere you can comfortably introduce them to your kids.
See how they interact with the kids. Talk to them about how much they charge per hour and how much advance notice they prefer before sitting. Explain what your expectations are for them (cell phone and computer usage, having friends over, rules and guidelines you set, etc.). See if they are a good fit.
(FYI: Sometimes younger teenagers who can't yet drive are the BEST babysitters, so don't overlook younger candidates if they are mature and have a lot of experience.)
4. Don't overlook the older couple next door!
You know the ones I'm talking about. Yes, your next door neighbors who are in their late 60s who spend a lot of time watering their plants and going on walks. It may surprise you how willing they are to come hang out at your home while you and your spouse go on a date. Yes, "Grandma and Grandpa," next door may become your favorite babysitters ever!
5. Do a couple swap!
Talk to your "friends-with-kids" (FWKs) and see if they would be up for a regular babysitting swap. You could take their kids every Friday, and they could take yours on Saturday. Or, you could switch off every other week. This option is great for those looking to save a little moolah on babysitting or for those who just feel more comfortable having someone they know and trust watch their kids.
Finding a great babysitter isn't easy, but just remember – once you find one you like, keep them! Call them regularly and pay them enough to keep them coming back!
Your kids will be happy. Your babysitter will be happy. And your marriage will be happy.
Aaron & April are the founders of Nurturing Marriage, a website dedicated to strengthening marriages. They enjoy playing football with their two little boys, watching sports, eating cereal late at night, and going out for frozen yogurt.