Risa Dashow Finn took time to train her babysitters, typically having them start out as “mother’s helpers.” This method allowed her to be both productive and responsible. It also allowed her to have an arsenal of babysitters at her disposal.

However, one night when none of her regular sitters were around, Risa fell back on a recommendation who happened to live nearby.

Risa talked to Dearly about the bizarre encounter she had with a referred babysitter, and why she stresses that parents do extensive research before welcoming a stranger into their home.

Risa Dashow Finn

Although her kids are now grown and out of the house, at the time, Risa worked from home.

And on a particular Saturday after finishing up her work, she went upstairs to get ready for date night with her husband. Meanwhile, she left her kids downstairs with the babysitter who had come as a referral. As Risa was going through the usual motions to pamper herself, she noticed something was out of place.

A pair of her blue jeans were sitting behind the bathroom door, sticking up in a way that implied that someone had just stepped out of them. Risa thought to herself: “Huh, that’s weird!” as she couldn’t remember leaving her pants there.

Nevertheless, she brushed it off and carried on getting ready. And then she noticed that her makeup was cracked into dozens of powdery pieces. Her first instinct was to ask her youngest daughter — who denied the allegation.

Risa Dashow Finn

When Risa couldn’t find her “beautiful lattice bracelet” she’d gotten for her 30th birthday, she found out her husband was missing a few valuables as well. A watch, wedding band, and loose cash had also mysteriously disappeared.

And then it clicked.

Before jumping to any rash decisions, Risa called her sister, who’d previously employed the same sitter. When she found out that her sister’s family was also missing certain valuables, Risa began to get suspicious.

Risa recalled wondering to her sister:

“Well this is crazy. I hate to think this, but I wonder if this [babysitter] is stealing from us?”

Her suspicions were confirmed after she decided to phone the babysitter’s mother, who said:

“Oh my gosh. I guess I should’ve told you when you hired my daughter … Well she’s got a problem. She’s a little bit of a kleptomaniac.”

Dumbfounded, Risa threatened that she could press charges. Instead, however, she told the mom to have her daughter return everything she stole, and to have her daughter “get the help that she needs.”

Needless to say, Risa went back to her regular babysitters after that incident.

While she admits that the sitter, “took care of her kids fine,” the overall experience was less than savory. However, despite that chaos of that particular debacle, Risa is still a firm believer in using babysitters.

Risa Dashow Finn

She told Dearly how important it is to expose your children to adults outside the immediate family circle. There will be a point in time where there’s not going to be a family member available. She said:

“The kids need to be open to other people watching them and spending time with them. Whether that’s to go to a daycare, or having people come to your home… You can’t make them scared [of other people].”

That’s not to say you need to make hasty decisions. Be judicious with the babysitting hiring process. While getting a background check may be extensive (and/or impossible), there are simple methods you can take.

After hiring a bad babysitter herself, mom of two Alyssa Dunn Edelman recommends that parents:

“Check as many references as possible and do some social media stalking research.”

You can learn a lot about a potential hire through a simple Google search and a peek at their Facebook profile.

Additionally, Alyssa says that her best babysitters have always been the ones you find “from word of mouth” rather than from websites such as Care.com or Sittercity.com. While those sites do come highly recommended, piggybacking off of someone’s successful babysitting hire will (typically) reap a successful experience.

When Risa’s sitter eventually returned, she brought along the stolen goods … well, most of them. The watch was broken, and the cash was never returned, but Risa’s husband did get his wedding band back.

So, parents, before you hire a recommended babysitter without a second thought, think again and do your homework.

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