Dear Future Babysitter of my Three Young Children,
I am a veteran babysitter. In fact, I was the most coveted babysitter in my entire neighborhood. I was more interested in making money than hanging out with my friends. I treated the kids I babysat for, as younger (and sometimes preferred!) siblings.
It felt great to be fought over by numerous neighborhood families on Friday and Saturday nights. So I thought I would let you know how I was so successful, and what I (as a parent) now expect from you (my babysitter) when you care for my kids.
First of all, please recognize that I am leaving my babies with you, a relative stranger. I am literally trusting you with my little ones’ lives.
Please take this seriously.
Pay attention to directions and ask questions. Make sure I write down both of our phone numbers (and maybe even a neighbor or two) and where we are going to be. I know you want to be the “fun one,” but please put safety before fun and discipline if you need to.
Follow the directions that I give you. If I tell you I want the kids in bed by 8, I mean just that…they should be in their beds, going to sleep at 8. Even if I don’t spell it out for you, just assume that my kids need to wear pajamas, brush their teeth, and go to the bathroom before getting into bed. And no, they may not sleep in “dress up.”
If I don’t specifically ask you to give them a bath, then please don’t. There may be several reasons for this, ranging between my comfort level with you (relative stranger) washing their bits and pieces to me not wanting to have to pay you more when my toddler poops in the tub. Trust me, it’s just better this way.
After feeding the kids, it sure would be nice if you rinsed and loaded the dishwasher with their dishes. Don’t worry about scrubbing pots or anything, just basic clean-up. Wiping down counters, cleaning up any spills and refrigerating leftovers are also expected.
I may tell you to “make yourself at home.” What I mean by this is feel free to look for something that you need (pertaining to my children) in the cabinets. For example, if you run out of toilet paper, by all means search closets and under sinks to find more! Please help yourself to a soda, some dinner, a cookie from the plate on the counter. No, you may not “fix” yourself a “drink.” (I don’t care how old you are!)
Hopefully, I’ll remember to show you how to work the remote, but please only watch TV after the kiddos are in bed…and obviously, keep it to the appropriate (and free!) channels.
My kids will beg you to let them watch TV/play on the iPad, etc. But, I am not paying you for screen time. I expect you to play with my children. Get creative! I’m positive that this was one of the determining factors of my babysitting success.
I was famous for my games. I came up with “House Olympics” involving different types of competitions and obstacle courses, many of which ended up requiring the children to clean up areas of the house (i.e. “Who can pick up the most Legos in 20 seconds?” or “Pyramid Cup Stacking Race-straight out of the dishwasher”).
Or, don’t get creative…my girls are perfectly happy to have a
guinea pig friend to try out new hairstyles on, and my toddler will roll a ball to just about anyone! As long as you are engaging with my kids, I’m happy. And on the clean-up note….I’m always super impressed when the playroom is cleaned up when I get home!!
When I ask you, “How were the kids?” please tell me the truth. I promise I will hire you again even if you say my kids were terrible! I truly want to know if someone was being disrespectful or mean, and I will respect you more for being honest.
Although I prefer my babysitters to be able to drive, it’s not a deal breaker. But please have your own ride to and from my house. It’s a bummer to come home after a night out just to have to turn around and drive you 20 minutes back home.
And if I do have to drive you home….please pacify me with some small talk. Although I’m not totally interested in who your soccer team is playing next week, I’d rather talk about that than have 20 minutes of silence!
And finally, although keeping my kids alive for three hours is a big job, please realize that you are still a teenager. I’m thankful that you gave up some of your Friday night to play with my kiddos, but I did not hire you with the intention of making you independently wealthy.
I have checked with my friends, and yes, that is the going rate for partially educated, minors in the childcare field (and dinner was even included!). Yes, you may deserve more than that during the hours that the kids are awake (especially if they poop in the tub!), but you also deserve less than that after they are asleep and you are watching Bravo and texting your BFF. So, it all averages out, right?
In conclusion, I’m touched that you like my kids enough to want to spend your Friday night with them. I’m hoping you will still like them enough to continue to babysit for them next week too!
I think it’s important for my little ones to have real teenage role models to form relationships with….so keep my kids (who idolize you!) in mind on those Friday nights that you are out with your friends, and remember them as you make all of those teenage choices that are forming who you become as an adult.
Hopefully these tips will help you become the best babysitter in the neighborhood too!