I spent my early teen years like a lot of teen girls, making a little extra spending money by babysitting local kids in the neighbourhood. And even in university, I still picked up the odd babysitting job when I could.
I actually really enjoyed babysitting, so much so that I became a nanny for a few years overseas. But even though I loved babysitting, there were definitely some trying moments that made me reconsider if the $8 an hour was worth it.
Still, I was always pretty open and honest with the parents of the kids I babysat. I would give them a little report of what went down at the end of the night. But, there were some things that I kept to myself. Why? Self-preservation, staying on the parents’ good side and even staying on the kids’ good side. It's a bit of a give-and-take relationship between babysitter and baby, where each are ultimately needing the approval of parents. So there are probably a lot of secrets between children and babysitters to keep peace with mutually assured destruction.
So unless mom has the most open and honest babysitter in the history of the world, here are 15 secret thoughts that the babysitter is probably keeping to herself.
15 “Is Their House Always This Messy?”
When I was about 14, I can remember going to a neighbour’s home to babysit once or twice a week. They had two kids, a boy and a girl who were 11 years old and 7 years old. Every single time I went into that house, I was always taken aback by how messy the house was. There was always laundry in the hamper, toys strew up and the father’s at-home office had stacks and stacks of papers covering every inch of the desk space.
I never failed to think to myself what a messy house they lived in. But I never ever vocalized these thoughts to either parent. And now that I am a bit older and about to become a mother myself, I thank the heavens that I never did.
You see, when you’re young and not a parent, it’s extremely easy to judge. And when you are a parent, tidying up your home becomes less and less of a priority. To be clear, the home was never dirty. It was simply untidy. But that was enough to evoke the judgement of a 14-year-old who only had to worry about cleaning up her own bedroom.
But be forewarned, your babysitter might be judging you because of the dishes in your sink or the dirty clothes on your kid’s bedroom floor.
14 “I. AM. SO. BORED.”
Whether your babysitter is waiting for you to come home after putting the kids to bed or is playing the umpteenth game of Snakes and Ladders with your little one, this one thought probably goes through their mind a few times a night.
I mean, it makes complete sense. As a teenager, playing with a young child can be fun for a while, but at a certain point, the fun starts to fade and interacting with someone so much younger than you becomes a bit tedious.
The big secret about this secret is that you are probably keeping the same secret from your babysitter. Even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself, you probably get pretty bored once and awhile when you are playing with your kids. But in the mind of your babysitter, you see your kids as the most entertaining little creatures in the world. They would never think that you share in their boredom.
So this is a secret they will keep to themselves and maybe whichever friend they happen to be texting during that never-ending game of Snakes and Ladders. It can't be avoided: it's going to happen. So parents, get used to it.
13 “I Can't Stand Your Cloth Diaper.”
When it comes to diapering your child, the choice is yours. You can opt for what is arguably the easier, more commonplace route and go with disposable diapers. Or you can take a more environmentally conscious stand and use cloth diapers. Neither choice is wrong, it really comes down to personal preference.
But if you have a babysitter who is used to easy cleanup (most of the time) that comes with disposable diapers and you use cloth diapers, they might secretly be cursing your eco-minded choices.
Even for parents, the realities of cloth diapering can be, well, gross. As mom-of-two Sarah Cottrell wrote, changing cloth diapers is a nasty job on the best of days. “Step one was to open them up and remove the inserts. Gross. Step two was to scrape the solid mass off the cloth lining. Grosser. Step three should have been to soak them before tossing them into the wash. But oh, no, no. This was no ordinary mess. This required scrubbing.”
So while your babysitter’s opinions shouldn’t change your choice, just know that they might hate you a little bit for it. Maybe swap for disposable diapers just for when they're being watched by someone else?
12 “The Baby Cried For At Least An Hour After You Left.”
I used to babysit for a family with two young boys. The older boy was about 4½ and he had no problem at all when his parents left for the day or night. The younger boy was about 2 and he was a different story.
Even when I first started babysitting for the family, he would be so happy to see me when I arrived, all smiles and cuddles. But the moment his parents started to put their shoes and coats on, and make their way to the door, everything changed. He would start to wail and cry and could not be consoled. I would try everything from reading stories, playing with his favourite toys (Thomas the Tank Engine, of course) and getting his brother to help sing and dance for him. Nothing could stop the unending flow of tears.
He would eventually tire himself out and calm down. And as time went on, I became a welcome addition to his days and evenings. I even used to pick him up from daycare every now and again, and he would run to me with open arms.
But did I tell the parents that for our first few encounters he would scream and cry for hours on end? Nope, I most certainly did not. Why? Well, it didn’t seem necessary to worry his parents and possible guilt them into never leaving the house again.
Like I said, he came around and was only reacting to a new person in a pretty normal way for a 2-year-old.
11 “We Broke A Couple House Rules Tonight.”
This one is for the parents that maybe have a few too many house rules. If you are a very strict parent, that is 100% your prerogative. But when you hire a babysitter, you might not get someone as strict as you. And when it comes to rules that your babysitter doesn’t quite understand the importance of, well, they might conveniently forget that particular rule.
I babysat for two girls who had exceptionally strict parents. They were about 6 and 8 years old, wonderfully behaved girls who I loved sitting for. While the parents were super strict, they were also very nice people who were clearly doing an amazing job raising their daughters. But they did have a few rules that I thought went a little too far.
Like the two books before bed rule. Each girl was allowed to choose one book and then I was to read both book choices to the girls before they went to bed at their designated bedtime of 7:45 pm. But more than once, we would get through the two books and it would only be 7:30 or 7:45 pm. So, when the girls asked for another story, I figured what’s the harm in reading them one more book, especially if they are still in bed for bedtime?
I have no idea how the parents would have reacted if they found out that I did this, and I had no plans to find out. It became a secret between myself and the girls, and I like to think it made our babysitter bond even stronger.
10 “I Hope They Got The Good Snacks This Week.”
As a young babysitter, the best thing ever was the ability to raid the pantry without my parents around to tell me to put the Oreos back. My favourite family to babysit also had a stocked pantry with the kind of sugary treats that were closely guarded in my home. From Twinkies to potato chips, Poptarts to Fruit Rollups, I would anxiously anticipate when the kids would finally get to bed and I could eat whatever my heart desired.
It was always a bit of a letdown to babysit on the days when mom and dad clearly needed to hit up the grocery store.
Here’s the thing, though, I always made sure to feed to kids a proper dinner. So even though I may have been pigging out on the sweet treats, the kids in my care always had a healthy balanced dinner in their tummies before I put them to bed.
So even if you run a really healthy household, become your babysitter’s favourite family by stashing a box of tasty treats especially for the nights they are watching your kids. If it helps the person watching your kid be in a good mood, isn't that in everyone's best interest?
9 “Is It Really That Bad If I Give Junior Another Oreo?”
This one is for all the parents out there that have strict rules about desserts or eating in general. If you’ve given the babysitter instructions on what kind of desserts your kids are allowed to have, he or she might not adhere to your rules exactly.
More than once, I gave the kids an extra cookie or a second piece of peanut butter toast to keep them happy. As a babysitter, I didn’t have the knowledge I needed to deal with kids when they got upset. Plying them with an extra treat was an easy way to keep them calm and happy.
No matter how many kids a babysitter looks after, there is one thing that your babysitter will never be. And that is an expert on your child. If you want to help make it easier on your babysitter, share some of the inside knowledge you have about your kids. What other non-food treats or rewards can they offer up? These little tips might not seem like a big deal as a parent, but for a babysitter, they are basically gold nuggets! When the babysitter is on their own with the kid, it's basic survival instinct to use whatever they can to get through the evening as peacefully as possible.
8 “Okay, So I Didn’t Get The Kids To Bed Exactly On Time…”
Ahhh bedtime. It’s a time that even most parents dread. And when you are a babysitter, that dread comes on tenfold. How are you possibly going to manage to get the kids to bed on time when even their own parents tell you that it can be tricky?
Babysitters are just doing there best. And they are going to use every trick in the book to get the kids to sleep by their bedtime. But every now and then, they are going to hit a roadblock. Maybe your kid is begging for an extra book. Maybe they won’t stop asking for just one more glass of water. Maybe the babysitter gets the kids to bed on time, but 15 minutes later they are coming back down the stairs complaining, “We can’t sleep.”
As a parent, you’ve been there, you’ve done that. You totally get it. But as a babysitter, you don’t want to 1) tattle on the kids and 2) let the parents down.
So instead, when you get home and ask your babysitter how bedtime went, they are probably going to paint you a very rosy coloured picture, even if they know that the kids probably only fell asleep about 10 minutes ago.
7 “I Wonder If They Noticed I Checked Out Their Bedroom.”
Don’t worry parents, you can take a deep breath. Your babysitter isn’t rummaging through your underwear drawer or any other drawer for that matter. But, yes, they probably have taken a peek in your bedroom, just out of curiosity.
The teen years are defined by curiosity, and that’s the only reason why your babysitter has probably checked out your whole home, even if some of the rooms weren’t on the official tour.
According to Susan Engle, author of The Hungry Mind: The Origins of Curiosity in Childhood, we should really be encouraging teenagers’ curiosity. “We don’t spend enough energy capitalizing on the curiosity of teenagers,” said Engle. “We try to squelch their curiosity about the things we think are dangerous [but] we expect them to expend great energy on academics that don’t stir their curiosity… which is crazy, because there is so much in the world of scholarship that teenagers are naturally curious about: Why there is injustice in the world? What is the book Lolita all about? Why were U.S. soldiers in Vietnam? How did young people help stop that war? Why not make the most of their intrinsic curiosity?”
While you probably won’t be tackling those kinds of questions after getting home from date night, you can sleep easy knowing that your babysitter’s curiosity about your home is completely natural.
6 “I'm Going To Forget Everything You Just Told Me About Junior’s Screen Time Rules.”
Do you have really strict rules when it comes to screen time? Did you take the time to let your babysitter know exactly which shows your little one is allowed to watch and for how long they are allowed to indulge in screen time? Good for you!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are some hard and fast rules parents (and babysitters for that matter) should follow when it comes to screen time.
“The academy recommends that for children 2 to 5 years of age, screen time should be limited to one hour per day. For kids ages 6 and older, parents can determine the restrictions for time spent using a screen, as well as monitor the types of digital media their children use,” reported CNN. “Babies are most vulnerable to screens. Infants aged 18 months and younger should not be exposed to any digital media.”
You should know, though, that as soon as your kid becomes a bit too fussy or cries when their episode of Dora the Explorer ends, your babysitter is going to conveniently forget everything you painstakingly told them.
Try not to stress too much about your babysitter’s screen time habits with your kids. Think of it as an indulgence or a special treat for your kids.
5 “I Can Barely Get Through My Own Math Homework Let Alone This Second-Grade Stuff!”
Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of a babysitter than having to help with homework. And to b honest, it’s a bit cruel to expect that of your sitter. They most likely spent their whole day in class and are waiting for the kids to go to bed so they can crack their own books and start on their homework.
I get it if your kids haven’t finished their homework and you are running out the door, but maybe let your babysitter know up front that they are not expected to “help” so much as supervise the completion of homework.
If there are any problems that your kid can’t solve on their own, let the babysitter know they can skip over those problems and you will tackle them in the morning before school.
This will take a monumental amount of pressure off of your babysitter and will likely encourage your child to work harder on their own homework. A 2009 study conducted by the Canadian Council on Learning found that the most effective homework is that which a student can do on their own. A parent’s, or babysitter’s, job is to give the child the time and space they need to complete their homework free of distractions.
"The child will invest a mental effort because they know that it's useful," said Dr Cappon, president and CEO of the learning council.
4 “Do The Kids Fight This Much For You?”
Babysitting siblings is always a more difficult task than babysitting a single child. In fact, 20% of babysitters use the number of children in a family to judge whether or not they will take a job. Once you add a second or third child into the mix, the dynamics completely change.
I used to sit for a brother-sister duo who wanted nothing to do with each other. If I tried to get them to play together instead of solo, I would regret it. Fights and arguments would quickly break out and before I knew it I would have both kids in separate rooms, taking a timeout.
It was easy enough to set up separate activities for those two kids, but some kids just argue. According to Kids Health, “Most brothers and sisters experience some degree of jealousy or competition, and this can flare into squabbles and bickering.” And as long as they don’t pose a physical danger to each other, the best thing to do is to not interfere.
So if the best thing to do is not to intervene and let the kids work out their issues on their own, is there really a reason to get the parents involved after the fact? Not really. But most babysitters will alert the parents if they see any fighting that is physical in nature or differs from the norm, so don’t fret.
3 “I Didn’t Let Your Kid Win Uno. Actually, I Was Happy To Beat Her!”
Now I never once had a parent tell me that I needed to let their kid win while we played games together. But it does seem like an unspoken truth that every once and while, as the adult or teenager, you let the younger child win.
And I am sure I have done this countless times as a babysitter, an aunt and I am sure I will be doing it with my own kids when they are old enough to understand the concept of winning. But as a babysitter, sometimes playing a game just to lose is no fun. It’s even worse when you have a kid who is a sore winner and likes to rub it in your face.
So sure, babysitters will probably play a game to their full capabilities now and then. And odds are, they are going to relish in beating your kid in whatever game they are playing. A good babysitter isn’t a sore winner or loser though, hence why they keep these thoughts to themselves!
Turns out, your babysitter is actually doing you a favour! "Letting a child win affects a relationship dramatically. A child needs to see an [authority figure] as someone who's in control, and bear in mind, a child knows when they haven't legitimately won. They can sit back and see—and they'll see that they're in control," said Lyn Fry, a practising educational psychologist.
2 “Bedtime Might Be 9 But He’s In Bed By 8 Tonight! I Can’t Miss The New Grey’s Anatomy Episode.”
On the other hand of the bedtime spectrum is the over-eager babysitter who puts the kids down earlier than they need to. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, and hopefully, it only happens once in a blue moon. But every now and then a babysitter reaches the end of their limits and the only option is to get those kids into bed.
And as a parent, this really isn’t anything to worry about. I mean, are you really mad that your babysitter somehow managed to wrangle an extra hour of sleep out of your kids?
The babysitter's motives might not have been the purest—maybe they really needed the extra hour to study for a science test, or maybe they just wanted to watch their favourite television show—but the end result is nothing to turn your nose up at.
Because your babysitter probably felt a little guilty, like they were blowing off their babysitting duties, they aren’t likely to tell you about the early bedtime. But who knows, depending on how old your kids are, they might tell you all about it the next morning! If so, the kid runs the risk of having their secrets told by the babysitter.
1 “I Can’t Believe They Are Late, Again!”
Punctuality is extremely important for both parents and babysitters. Seventy-four percent of parents said that their biggest pet peeve was when their sitter arrived late. It makes total sense. You hired a babysitter for a reason—you have somewhere to be and need to be able to leave the house on time.
But punctuality is a two-way street. And 45% of babysitters listed “parents coming home late” as one of their biggest pet peeves. That makes just as much sense. Babysitters have lives too and may have studying to do or simply worry about getting home as it gets later and later.
If you know you are going to be late arriving home, send your sitter a quick text message so that they can adjust their own schedule accordingly. When you do arrive, make sure they have a safe way to get home and offer to pay for a taxi if they live more than a 15-minute walk away from your home. And finally, make sure you pay them for the additional time and even throw in a tip.
Your babysitter probably won’t complain to you about your tardiness, so be proactive to stay in their good books. The last thing you want is for your babysitter to suddenly becomes “busy” every time you need them to watch your kids.
References: cnn.com, greatschools.org, theglobeandmail.com, scarymommy.com, urbansitter.com, kidshealth.org, mirror.co.uk, thebisworlds.com, mom.me, youtube.com, dailymail.co.uk, pinterest.com, instagram.com, pinterest.com, instagram.com, monstersandcritics.com, instagram.com, instagram.com, instagram.com, instagram.com, instagram.com, dailymail.co.uk.