As reluctant as you may be to trust someone with your child’s safety, we all need to use a babysitter’s services at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s on a daily basis, depending on your busy schedule. This can be nerve-wracking. Will this person take good care of your child? What exactly happens in the house while you’re out? Whether you know your babysitter personally, or she is a complete stranger, these are common questions you may have.
However, your babysitter probably has a lot of questions for and expectations of you. In some cases, she could be spending up to 10 hours a day with your child. That’s a long day and plenty of time for little issues to creep up. We’ve compiled a list of eight things your babysitter may be itching to tell you and feels she can’t. Keeping these guidelines in mind may help make your next experience with a sitter an enjoyable one.
8 You’re Feeding Your Kid That?
Any responsible parent will not expect a babysitter to cook, as well as look after their kids (unless that is part of the agreement, of course). So, providing your sitter with pre-planned meals is likely the reality. This being said, be mindful of what food you prepare. Your children’s diet will be subject to judgement, whether you like it or not. If you feed them junk, you will probably be told about it. Your babysitter may be turning her nose up at the eating habits in your home.
Our little ones need good nutrition to keep their minds and bodies going all day long. This includes proper servings of lean meat, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. They need healthy snacks, too, so go easy on the sugar. It’s okay to give kids snacks that’s aren’t as wholesome once and awhile, but don’t make it their go-to snack. For example, starting the day off with Froot Loops is not a healthy way to begin the morning.
7 You’re a Total Helicopter Parent
As the name suggests, helicopter parents like to hover around their children, overseeing every angle of their lives. The metaphor was coined in 1990 and has gained popularity over the years. But this a good thing, right? Parents should know what their children are doing at all times. Yes and no. Overprotectiveness and smothering are not endearing features.
Some studies have shown children who were raised in these environments find it hard to be independent, leaving them less likely to know how to regulate their own behaviour. Taking an interest in your children’s lives is important, but being overbearing is another thing. A perfect balance of both is the best approach. Your babysitter may have kids of her own and can offer some suggestions on how to tone it down – if you’ll let her, that is.
6 Would It Kill You to Clean Your House?
Nothing would grind my gears more than looking after children in a dirty environment. It’s pretty off-putting to arrive at someone’s house and see a sink full of dirty dishes, piled high. It’s only fair, if you’re expecting someone to look after your kids, to at least make sure there are no trip hazards and the kitchen and bathroom areas are clean.
No one is expecting sparkling clean floors (although that is always nice, too). Sometimes even a quick routine-clean is enough to keep the germs at bay. Your sitter deserves to work in a healthy environment, free of hazards.
5 Feel Free to Feed Me Too, You Know
Just as you prepare food for your kids, don’t forget the babysitter also has to eat. It may be agreed upon beforehand that your sitter will bring her own meals, but if nothing is discussed, assume she will be eating with the kids. Nothing fancy – even ordering pizza to show you’re thinking of her, or leaving a plate of food in the fridge can go a long way. A little respect goes a long way and she’ll be more likely to go that extra mile if she knows how you feel.
I used to laugh at my mom whenever we’d have people doing renovations in the house. She’d invite them to sit at the table and they’d have a pasta dinner with us. It would be so awkward, sitting across from a complete stranger, and I used to tease her a bit. I understand why she did it now that I’m older. She always made sure anyone who came into our house – friend or paid worker – was given plenty to eat and drink. It was her way of showing respect.
While you're at it, don't forget to ask if your sitter has any specific allergies when leaving food for her. If she has a wheat allergy, stock up on some gluten-free bread and other safe treats. She’ll appreciate the extra effort.
4 Making Sure I Get Home Safe Means a Lot
Not all babysitters have vehicles. And if you’re using a young teen, she may not even have a driver’s license yet. If you’re able to drive her home, it is a nice gesture. This way you can ensure she gets home safe and it tells her that you care about her safety. Or paying for cab or bus fare is another way of showing you appreciate the time she has spent with your children.
If your sitter is a young neighbour, make the effort to walk her home once her duties are done. Her parents are bound to be appreciative of that.
3 I Thought You Said Your Kid is an Angel?
There is nothing worse than watching a child you have been told is a complete angel, and then finding out he’s a terror the minute the parents leave. We’ve all seen shows where the parents return home and the babysitter is tied up in a chair while the children giggle away in the corner. Tell your babysitter what she’s in for – the good, the bad and the ugly. If your child has special needs or has been diagnosed with any kind of behavioural problem, it’s especially crucial you give your sitter the lowdown. Give her the courtesy of the whole picture.
If your child is autistic for example, make her aware that he may not like loud noises or a sudden change in routine could prove disastrous. If your child has difficulties focusing, expecting him to sit through a whole game of Snakes and Ladders or a long movie may not be realistic.
Activities can and should be adjusted based on the individual child’s behaviour and personality. My child, for example, tends to be a bit of a wanderer, so I’m less likely to trust him out in big public places with a sitter I don’t know as well. It becomes a safety hazard if a kid is continually wandering away. I would be sure to tell a sitter this, so she’s aware of my comfort level when they’re out in public.
2 Try to Be On Time
Things happen and people can run late. It’s inevitable. But if you know your sitter has to be somewhere (perhaps to pick up her own kids), try to be as punctual as possible. If uncontrollable factors like bad weather and traffic prevail, try to have a phone handy to call your sitter and give her the head’s up. This way she’s not sitting there frustrated, wondering why you’re not sticking to the agreed-upon time.
Remember, she is happy to help where she can, but if helping you interferes with her own schedule, it could become problematic and you may be out a sitter.
1 Make Me Aware of Your Child’s Routine/Important Information
Children are creatures of habit. They like structure and thrive on it. Make sure your sitter knows your children’s routines before you leave them in her care. If you have a child who is very routine-driven, it could mean the difference between a great day, or him having a complete meltdown.
- Think of a typical day for your kids and break it down hour by hour. Leave it on the fridge.
- Leave a list of emergency contact numbers in case something goes wrong.
- Keep handy a list of things your children may be allergic to, as well as any medications they are on.
- What are some fun activities your children like to do? Make sure the proper gear is in the house for things like sledding or sports.
Remember, the key is to avoid problems at all costs. If little Johnny wants to play baseball and the sitter can’t find his bat and glove, this will result in frustration on all ends. And perhaps some phone calls to mom and dad.
The bottom line is your babysitter is there to help you take care of your kids while you’re out. You want her to respect your children (naturally), so it’s important that you, in turn, have respect for her. Use these guidelines the next time you have someone watch your kids and your experience just may run a bit smoother than the last time. Ie. You won’t find your sitter tied to a chair when you get home.