I started babysitting when I was in the sixth grade. I continued doing it until about a year after I was married. I worked for many wonderful families. I also had some bizarre experiences. Here are a few dos and don’ts of hiring a babysitter.
Leave emergency contact numbers.
A child in my care once woke up with a high fever and I had no way to reach the parents. This was before the age of cell phones, of course. Leave multiple ways for the babysitter to reach you, or a close relative, in case of an emergency.
Come home when you say you will.
When I was in college, a couple said they’d be home at midnight, but didn’t show up until the next morning. I was worried and had someplace to be early that morning. If you’re going to be late, call. But try not to be late.
Tell her everything she needs to know about the children.
Does your child sleep walk or have a special medical condition? Make sure she knows. Also clue her in to any special routines, rituals, preferences or ways to sooth your child.
Clear it with her in advance if additional children will be present.
Maybe you’re going on a double date and the other couple asks if their children can stay at your house with the sitter. Clear it with her first. And make sure she is paid her usual rate for BOTH sets of children.
Pay her in full.
In cash. I once had someone offer me food stamps instead of payment. I was thirteen years old. Don’t take advantage of the babysitter’s shyness, inexperience or youth. Pay her what she is owed immediately.
Put her in the middle of a custody squabble.
I once babysat for a couple who was divorcing. The father would show up to see the kids while I was babysitting and then the mother would get mad at me for allowing him access. This is way too much drama for a teenage girl to deal with.
Expect her to do your cleaning or laundry.
She’s the babysitter, not the maid. It’s okay to expect her to clean up after herself or any messes the children make when in her care. It is not okay to leave her a list of chores.
Ask her to help you get ready.
I once babysat for a woman who walked around in her bra in front of me and asked me to zip up her dress. It made me very uncomfortable. She’s your babysitter, not your BFF.
Come home drunk.
This is especially true if you’re supposed to drive her home. Arriving home intoxicated can make her feel awkward and embarrassed. She may not want to work for you again.
Deduct pizza or other entertainment from her pay.
If you give her money to take the children out for pizza or a movie, it isn’t fair to later deduct her portion from her pay. If you can’t afford to do both, have them stay at home. Most babysitters are more than capable of entertaining children in their homes and serving them a simple dinner.
Following these simple guidelines will ensure you have a happy babysitter who is willing to watch your children again. A happy babysitter will give your child their full attention and top-notch care.