PeopleImages/iStockLittle Things That Make My Job Easier
1. Before I babysit for the first time, have me come over and meet your child for a few minutes while you’re home. If you can’t do that, show your child a picture of me ahead of time. (I can probably text you one.) It really helps the kids feel more comfortable before you leave me with them.
2. Make a big deal when I arrive. It sounds like such a small thing, but if you open the door, give me a hug and act excited to see me, the kids think, ‘Oh, Mom really likes her. She must be OK.’
3. If your child has separation anxiety and starts to cry when you’re leaving, hurry up and get out the door. Coming back for one more kiss or trying to soothe him before you go just prolongs the crying. Once you’re gone, he will stop crying—I promise. Most kids calm down in 10 minutes or less. (If it makes you feel better, ask me to text you once he stops.)
4. It’s hard to remember all the details you’re throwing at me in the 10 minutes before you leave. That’s why we love when you write down everything. In addition to emergency phone numbers, include the full bedtime routine, the rules of the house (Can the kids eat in the family room, play on the iPad?), where I can find things like extra toilet paper, and how to use that tricky TV remote. Don’t forget to include your WiFi password.
shironosov/iStockHere’s How to Make Me Happy
5. Most of the time, I could care less when you come home. Go ahead and get your party on, parents—that’s a bigger paycheck for me! But if you’re going to be later than you said, please give me the courtesy of a heads up. One time, the parents stayed out all night when I had another sitter job booked for the morning.
6. If you want a happy sitter, have something besides kale chips and organicapple sauce for me to snack on, and make sure to mention that it’s OK for me to help myself.
7. Yes, I like your kids. I may even love them. But I’m still doing this for the money. If you pay me well or tip me at the end of the night, I’m going to feel much more loyal to your family. And I’ll be more likely to say yes next time.
Photodjo/iStockJuicy Secrets We Know About You
8. I’m not sure why you feel so comfortable confiding in me, but to tell you the truth, it makes me uncomfortable. Moms are always complaining about how their husbands never do anything around the house, how they spend too much money, and worse.
9. Your kids can’t keep a secret. They told me when Daddy lost his job, when Mommy went away to rehab, and how you both walk around naked.
10. Sometimes parents haven’t had cash and need to raid their kids’ wallets or piggy banks to pay me.
11. Chances are, I know about your marital problems. Your kids tell me about your fights, and sometimes I hear you arguing outside before you come in. At one job, I learned the mom was having an affair because all of their devices were linked through iCloud, and her text messages to her lover popped up on the kid’s iPad.
12. One time I went to put in a DVD for the kids, and there was porn in there.
13. Don’t leave things on the counter you don’t want me to read, whether it’s a bill, a to-do list, or a bank statement. I saw one family’s tax return, and after that, I didn’t feel so bad asking for a higher rate.
14. If you ask me to do the laundry, you might want to think about what’s in your hamper first. I was shocked to find out the buttoned-up Dad I babysat for wears brightly colored briefs.
Yuri_Arcurs/iStockA Few Pet Peeves
15. One thing we can’t stand: reusable cloth diapers. They are totally disgusting. On the nights when I’m coming, please be considerate and leave me a few disposable ones.
16. I hate it when kids have super late bedtimes. I know you want to get the most bang for your buck, but your 3-year-old should not be going to bed at 9 p.m. He’s just going to be cranky and ruin your day tomorrow.
17. If you keep asking me to babysit and I always have an excuse, take a hint. I probably didn’t like babysitting for you for some reason, so you may want to reconsider what you pay or work on your child’s behavior.
18. It drives me crazy that you’re so inconsistent when it comes to discipline. One mom told her son in front of me that he couldn’t have any ice cream that night because he hit his sister. But when I came back the next day, he said, ‘Guess what? I got ice cream last night!’
michellegibson/iStockIf We Could Give Parents a Piece of Advice…
19. When a toddler is having a tantrum, my favorite trick is to stay calm, get down at their level, and start talking really softly. They’ll quiet down just so they can hear what I’m saying.
20. Stop coddling. Let him cry it out in the crib. Don’t cook her a separate meal if she doesn’t like what you’re serving. And never, ever give in when they whine.
Sources: Kate Jenson, a babysitter in Chicago; Kathryn Poeschl, a babysitter in San Mateo, Calif.; Emily Levitan, a babysitter in Marin County, Calif.; a babysitter in Charlotte, N.C.; Lynn Perkins, founder of urbansitter.com; and Rachel Charlupski, founder of The Babysitting Company