My babysitter is a rock star: When I return home, the house is cleaned and the kids are asleep. She is worth every. Single. Penny.
One night after paying my sitter and kicking off my heels, I asked her about her job. What happened after I left the house? Did my kids turn into brats? Was I paying her enough? Did my pantry contain good munchies?
She spilled it; I took notes.
Your babysitter wants you to know more than you might imagine.
She doesn’t tell you everything that happens while you’re gone.
A babysitter doesn’t want to hit you with a list of your children’s naughty choices. Your babysitter wants you to know that she chooses only to relay the deliberately naughty behavior, such as problems with safety or outright defiance, or bad choices that you will wonder about when you kiss them goodnight (e.g., that Sharpie-scrawled mustache). Seldom does your babysitter share the minutiae; she handles it on her own.
Sometimes she doesn’t like your parenting style.
She just doesn’t get why you allow them to drink Mountain Dew at midnight. She lets it go, though. If she feels strongly about a disciplinary directive, she still follows it the best she can.
What doesn’t she appreciate? She prefers to not do the actual parenting. She said some parents avoid the duty of making the kids receive consequences for their rotten behavior. Instead, she’d like you to put your foot down.
Some things really do make her job easier.
Is your child going through a tough time? A solid babysitter respects a heads-up about the emotional state of the child. For example, has your child been throwing tantrums more often? What is the best way to handle them? She wants to take the same strategy as you so that she can be consistent.
And by the way—she doesn’t mind cleaning. She wants you to make her a list of chores. Sometimes she’ll make you a list of what she’s accomplished while you were gone. Kids can be unpredictable, however, so trust that she’s worked her butt off even if the list isn’t completely accomplished. If you don’t want her to stumble upon your dirty skivvies, don’t ask her to do laundry. She respects your privacy.
The kids’ sugary snacks are OK–to a point. She’s down with the junk food except when the kids get too hyped up on sugar. In fact, she avoids feeding the kids sugar right before you guys come home. Who wants to come home to nutso-hyper kids? In the same way, you don’t want to feed your kids a meal when you walk in the door. Your babysitter wants you to know that she doesn’t mind cooking.
Electronic payment is her first choice.
Venmo is best and a check is the worst. (Cash is always great!) She likes to meet the family ahead of time and to tell them her going rate. Your babysitter wants you to know that she doesn’t like to waver from her rates because she is busy watching your kids the entire time. If she feels she is being low-balled, she chooses if the work is worth it.
She has reasons for firing herself.
Sometimes, she may stop babysitting for you. I don’t know every reason why babysitters fire themselves, but my babysitter had a few surprising explanations.
On occasion, she feels like she’s playing therapist. When a family has two homes due to separation, she sometimes handles transactions between the parents. For the mom and dad, it’s easier for the babysitter to be the go-between. If the parents are amicable, that’s one thing. If they’re not, that’s a hassle.
Get this: my babysitter has picked up on vibes from a mother that she doesn’t like her husband around her. Yeah, I now–creepy. When she feels uncomfortable, my babysitter tries to not be alone in the same room as the husband.
There’s another creep she can’t tolerate– snakes! She doesn’t mind helping with the pets, but she has her limits.
Of course, I know that my babysitter doesn’t speak for every babysitter in the Tampa Bay area. Ask your sitter what he or she would like you to know—you might be surprised.