There comes a point in every parent's life where they're going to want to go somewhere without the company of their children. No disrespect to kids around the world, but sometimes parents need some alone time. There are oodles of restaurants out there that need to be enjoyed, where they don't have a kids' menu. There are an equal amount of movies that aren't suitable enough for children. In times where parents find themselves needing a little a break, this is where a babysitter comes in handy.
If a parent is lucky enough, they may have someone in the family who's always able to babysit — or even a reliable neighbor who's looking for some extra cash who loves those little kiddos. Other parents, however, aren't as lucky. Sometimes, the only way they can have a sitter is to find one online, through an app, or by word of mouth.
But who are these people, and can we trust them with our children?
No matter how safe or nice these babysitters may start off being, things change over time. Sometimes they ask for an unrealistic raise in pay; other times they're simply unreliable and have no right to be around kids. Regardless of a parent's reasoning for firing a babysitter, if he or she pulls any of these moves, it's time to find a new one.
Every parent has their own rules for their kids and family, so when it comes time for someone to watch your kids when you're out of the house, you need those rules to be consistent. If you reinforce a strict bedtime and yet find out the babysitter is sending them to bed earlier or way later, that's a problem. Depending on how often this babysitter babysits your kids, this can become a weekly occurrence which then throws your kids through a loop, and ironically, effects you as well. The babysitter, on the other hand, us unaffected. They've done their "job" and get to go home without the crying or screaming of children.
If you have a babysitter who steals a few crackers without asking, that's no biggy. I personally feel parents should offer their kitchen to whoever's watching their children. But if you find out your babysitter is stealing prized possessions (or even small ones!), it's time to cut the cord. If you catch them stealing one thing, who knows what they've stolen without your knowledge, or what they had in mind to steal next! When you hire someone to be at your house and watch your kids, you should have trust in them. The last thing you need to be worrying about when you leave the house is if you locked away everything valuable.
There comes a time when kids get older and start recognizing everything adults do. What they wear, what they eat, how they spend their time... And once they recognize all these behaviors, they then repeat what they saw. So, some babysitters may try to pull one over on these kids, but eventually, these kids are going to tell mom and dad exactly what went down. This may make parents happy or mad, depending on whatever story the babysitter told them.
If parents can't trust what the babysitter is doing with their kids, why even have a babysitter? They might as well bring the kids with them where they know exactly what's happening at all times.
We've all seen TV shows and movies where a babysitter is watching kids and they invite over some friends or a partner to keep them company. While some parents might be okay with a friend accompanying them, others don't feel the same. Mom and dad may worry that the babysitter will get lazy and only pay attention to their friend or partner instead of their kid. Or perhaps the babysitter's friends do some untrustworthy things around the kids that the parents weren't prepared for. Either way, it's up to the parents if they mind the company or not, but a babysitter shouldn't assume it's all good and invite someone without consent.
Taking care of kids makes you exhausted. Whether you're used to the exhaustion due to having kids of your own or simply having younger siblings — babysitting isn't always an easy task. It makes sense that some sitters get sleepy on the job, but unless the parent says it's okay to nap once the kids go to bed — sleeping on the job is a big no-no. You're there to take after the child, so if they fall asleep, babysitters should use this time to clean up after themselves so that mom and dad come home to a clean home (or as clean as it was when they left it).
As a former babysitter myself, I can't imagine babysitters straight up ignoring the children they're watching. Most kids are so excited to meet a new person and show them their toys, that ignoring them just seems cold. However, this does happen. Sometimes teens are just in it for the money and put on a movie to entertain the kid, while they spend a few hours on their cell phone talking to friends. Now, as a parent, it's tough to know if a babysitter is actually spending time with their kids or are just "dealing" with them. However, if they have cameras around the house, showing them what's happening while they're away, that's another story.
I shouldn't have to remind people why the mistreatment of children is a huge no-no. It's one of the biggest reasons why parents don't want strangers watching their kids; they worry about their child's safety and their boundaries. It's tough to know if a babysitter treats a child wrong, but if the child is old enough, they're sure to tell mom and dad about what happened. They may do this in an honest way, knowing how bad of an action it was, or do it in a round-about way. Either way, if a parent ever feels uneasy about the safety of their child, it's time to say goodbye to the babysitter.
I'll never forget this one time I was babysitting two young sisters. They were super excited to have a newcomer in their house and wanted to show me everything in their house. They were a big ball of energy and so fun to be around. However, things got messy when they started asking me tricky questions that really should be answered by their parents. I didn't really know what to say at my high school age, and told them to ask their parents because "I didn't' know." Nevertheless, they disliked that I didn't have the answers and cried and cried. But I can at least rest my head at night knowing I didn't reveal too much to unsuspecting kids!
As a babysitter, it can sometimes feel like the parents are asking a lot of you. They want you to work on the weekends, watch their (sometimes) unruly kids, and stay there late until the parents come home. But when you look at the job itself, parents are just asking for you to be kind and reliable.
If you have a babysitter who is falling asleep on the job, not showing up on time, or ignoring the household chores — you have to let them go and find someone else who will follow your rules. You're not asking for a lot, after all!
I used to babysit the younger kids in my neighborhood while growing up. After a while, these parents would refer me to their friends and I would be a busy babysitter from time to time on the weekends or after school. The kids loved to play with me, sure, but I think parents always hired me because I have a slight obsession with cleaning... If their kitchen counters were cluttered, I would wipe it down and organize their things. I would always do the dishes or unload the dishwasher so that their home felt fresh. I never wanted them thinking their house was a war zone while they were gone. Likewise, I think babysitters can do this in their free time while the kids are napping or watching a movie.
Typically if a child is allergic to anything, the parents will make this known. But it's not just allergies that parents are uneasy around. Sometimes parents tell babysitters to keep candy out of the household or no snacks before dinner/bedtime. If a parent finds out a babysitter is feeding their kids unapproved foods, it's best to give them a warning or to part paths.
If you're eating something and a kid asks you to try it, it's best to ask their mom and dad first before saying yes or no. The last thing a babysitter and parent needs is for their kids to have a weird reaction to unknown foods they've never tried before.
I don't think I would be too pleased if I found out my kids' babysitter was using my personal laptop or iPad without my consent. Now, some families have tablets designated for their kids — so they're safe to use. But not every family has the ability to afford all these extra electronics. If mom and dad say it's cool to use their personal things, go for it; but if you're unsure if you're allowed to use their electronics, just don't do it. Bring your own things if you're looking for entertainment when the kids are busy or sleeping.
As a parent, if you seem unfamiliar history on your electronics, confront your babysitter and get to the bottom of what they were doing and why it was on your property.
I have multiple friends who still babysit neighbors or their friends' kids, and they post about their time together on social media all the time. (I'm not sure why too many people care about their walks in the park, but that's not my problem.) As a parent, if you go snooping one day and find all these pictures and videos of your kids on social media, it's up to you to take action. Either be okay with the content they're posting, or put an end to it. Kids are so relaxed with social media these days, they probably don't even realize that sometimes they shouldn't post everything they do in a day.
Babysitting is hard work at times. Sometimes parents need a getaway because of how hard their kids are and it's up to someone else to control them for a little bit. Nevertheless, if a babysitter can't control your kids, it's best to stay home and tame them yourselves, waiting until they're older to get a babysitter, or just finding a new babysitter entirely. Truth be told, I think parents need to prepare babysitters for their kids before they start their shift. If a child is having a bad day, warn the babysitter that they may have a long night and to bring activities. If parents leave their babysitter in the dark, the night could get messy, leaving the parents with coming home early!
So we've already dealt with what happens when babysitters can't control your kids, but what happens when it's the other way around, and the kids don't like the babysitters? Depending on how old the kids are, they may be old enough to tell mom and dad why they dislike their babysitter, or perhaps a baby is young enough where they show signs of dislike through crying. Whatever the sign is, parents should always make sure the bond between child and sitter is a good one. Both sides are happy and compliant when there's a mutual understanding, so if your kids aren't happy with who's watching them — let the sitter go.
I once babysat for a very strict mother who didn't even always approve G-rated movies... The only acceptable content for their kids to watch was left on the TVR or in DVDs on their TV stand. If any of the content was anywhere else but those two places — they couldn't watch it. Sadly for me, I was unaware of this rule before I asked one of the girls if she wanted to watch Shrek. Well, as it turns out, Shrek was on their "unapproved" list and the little girl cried and cried because I got her hopes up. Although it was my mistake in saying anything, at least I didn't show her the film anyway! There are many babysitters who go ahead and do their own thing regardless of the mother's warnings, so be sure you're dealing with a levelheaded and reliable sitter!
I personally can't imagine borrowing anything from people I babysat for. However, I had a friend who borrowed clothes from the woman she babysat for all the time; she took advantage of it — if you ask me — and slowly stopped working for them. I don't know why she cared so much to borrow this woman's purses or hats, but she did. Then again, I guess I find it weirder that the mom went along with this and allowed her kids' babysitter to borrow her things! Nevertheless, I don't think it's the smartest thing to cross the line between parent and babysitter. If a babysitter likes your style, maybe you can tell them where you got it instead of letting them "borrow" it.
I lied the first time I babysat. I told the woman that I babysat my cousin all the time but that was false — I never babysat in my life; however, I knew I'd do well at it. I knew I was responsible at that age and would do everything in my power to care for these kids, making sure they had a good time. Some babysitters embellish who they've babysat for and how much they think their time is worth, which is why as the parent, you should also do your research. Get to know your sitter and if you can trust them in your home with your kids. If they've done what they've claimed, you can have a trusting night out. If you find out they're made of lies, it's time to head for the door.
A lot of younger kids have a sleep schedule. Even kids in elementary through middle school have some kind of bedtime. Being on a sleep schedule makes for a more scheduled day and can give the kids organization in an otherwise hectic world. So if a mom or dad tells you to put the kids in bed by 8pm, that needs to be done. If mom or dad finds out the kids are going to bed way earlier than necessary or even later than asked, they should find another sitter who can follow directions. After all, kids all get tired eventually; they may resist bedtime, but once they put on those pajamas, it's game over.
Whenever I left the house with the kids for a little bit, I always let the parents know. I either wrote a note and left it on the table or I texted them (although a cell phone wasn't always possible back in these days). As a parent, finding out the babysitter is taking your kids around town without their permission is simply not okay. It leaves everything up to chance and can make a parent feel vulnerable. You don't know what kind of driver this babysitter is or where they're actually taking them! Unless you have full faith in your babysitter, I'd ask them to stay at home and keep everything low-key.