I wrote this post sitting in the airport yesterday when my flight delayed on the way to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and my 3 week old nephew. I figured I might as well take advantage of the peace and quiet of the delay and write a post or two that I’d been thinking about for awhile now anyhow.
Like this one that’s been on my mind for ages… “How to be an Awesome Babysitter: The Do’s and Do Not’s of Babysitting Amazingness.”
I babysat a lot when I was young. Starting from when I was about 12 really through college, and even a couple times after that. I remember my mom telling me a few things when I first started that I KNOW made me an awesome babysitter. And while we have some great babysitters that we love and that our kids love, the bar for sitters seems to have fallen WAY lower than it was when I was young and just making $5/hr was a good night.
These days we pay sitters anywhere from $7-10/hr, and in big cities, I know that you all pay even more. So for all of you out there who agree…lemme get an “Amen” in the comments…along with a list of things you love or hate that your sitters do. Mmm K?
Here’s what I want from a babysitter, and I’m guessing you reader friends with kids want the same things too….
- I want my house cleaner when I get home that when I left it. And I sure as heck (at the very least) want it looking the same. If I’m paying you to watch my kids (who happen to go to bed between 7-8pm) then I think between 8-11pm while they’re sleeping and we’re still gone, you have plenty of time to pick up the mess you all made together, clean up the dishes from their dinner (and by that I mean clean them and put them in the dishwasher…not toss them with food particles clinging on them into the sink for me to deal with when I get home), and tidy up a little bit. Back in the day when I babysat (yes…i just pulled out a “back in the day,”) I used to seriously run the dishwasher and unload it, clean the heck out of the den or playroom, and make sure that the kids’ rooms looked better when I left than when I came. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the sitters we have, but for crying out loud…it’s SO stressful to go out for a stress-free night and come home to my house in a terrible wreck while you’re sitting on the sofa watching Greys Anatomy and eating my ice cream. I’d love for you to do those things, and I mean it when I say…eat or drink what you want and watch a fun show or movie, but PLEASE clean up what gets messed up…and if you do more than that…know I’ll tell all my friends of your awesomeness, and you’ll never have to get that $7/hr job at the YMCA daycare that you really only take home about $4.50/hr. Make $9/hr and keep it. Be an awesome babysitter, and you’ll never even have to look for jobs.
- Play with my kids. I want my kids to like you. In fact, I want them to look forward to having you come. It makes my time away much more enjoyable when I know that they’re happy. And one thing kids love is when you play with them. And that’s what I’m paying you for too. I want you to play legos, and fireman, and run around outside when it’s a beautiful day. I want you to pull out the watercolors and make paintings with them, to color, to play games….I want them playing!
I came home the other day when I had a really dear babysitter (whom I like a lot) watching my littlest guy, and I’m not kidding you…she and my 2 year old had been sitting on my bed, where I left them 3 hours prior, watching TV the whole time. In his life, my 2 year old has NEVER sat and watched TV for 3 hours. I love this gal to pieces, but I was really irritated that on a pretty day outside, they’d been sitting there glued to the TV for the entire morning. THAT is NOT what I pay a babysitter to do. Play with my kids. That is all.
- And on the topic of payment…I typically pro-rate paying sitters. I pay more for the time that the kids are awake than I do for the hours they’re asleep. I’d pay the full rate the whole time if I knew that I’d always be coming home to clean awesomeness.
- Be kind to my kids, but don’t let them walk all over you either. If my kids are disobedient or defiant to you ever…you have my permission to put them in time out. If anything ever happens where they’re being downright jerks, you call me. I won’t think you’re a bad sitter for it (unless you do it 3x/night every time…then I probably will stop calling you.) I know my kids, and as much as I love them, I know they can be jerks sometimes. Don’t let them….I don’t either. I want them to like you, but I need them to know that they are expected to respect you. And tell me the truth about how they behaved when I get home…even if it isn’t good news. I want to know. Parenting is training, and I can’t train well when I don’t know.
- Don’t EVER invite someone of the opposite sex to my house while I’m gone. Most of our babysitters are girls, but we’ve had a boy sitter before too. You do NOT have my permission to have your boyfriend or girlfriend over for a make-out session on MY sofa. You probably don’t have your parents permission to have them over for a make-out session on your sofa either. And even if you’re just having him “tutor you in calculus”….you can tutor elsewhere…and not on my dime. (Yes that happened one time…our longest standing sitter, and she KNEW when I walked in and looked at her that it was not ok.)
- Here’s a word of advice…”When in doubt…toss the idea out!” If you’re unsure of if something would be ok or not, just err on the side of wisdom and don’t do something that could be questioned.
- Don’t use ugly language around my kids. Just don’t.
- Please don’t spend time talking on the phone or texting when you’re watching my kids. The texting especially…I want you to play WITH them…not just supervise them.
- As my boys get older…please wear appropriate clothing. If you come to my house looking all hoochified…I might give you some clothes to wear. And if you take my kids to the pool…please wear a bathing suit that you can play with them in…not attract the attention of the lifeguard.
- We’re not scary…even if my husband is 6’6”, and I have a badass tattoo. We are nice, and remember, we think enough of you that we’d leave our most precious things in your care. And on the off chance that you think we’re lame…just pretend otherwise…feed my illusion of hipness. I’ll appreciate it and probably call you more…especially if you do everything else on my list above!
If you babysit for us and don’t do these things…just know this….we still love you. However, we will appreciate you a million times more if you go to a few extra lengths. If you don’t know me, but you’re a babysitter reading this….do this stuff and you’ll make all the money you need. Moms everywhere will LOVE you! And if you’re a mom nodding your head or thinking “I wish she’d written this” or “I love when our babysitter does ____,” then do us all a favor and leave a comment below sharing your thoughts!
Happy dating, excursioning, outing, and babysitting!