I’ve been babysitting quite a bit recently, and have been for several years. Because of this, I’ve experienced a wide range of family lifestyles. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not. Oh my. But I stick with it. The people I babysit for are generally people I already know (though not all the time, sometimes a friend of a family we know). But every once in a while, I think there should be some sort of instruction manual for parents out there so as to avoid awkward situations and babysitter burn out. Here’s my take, from experience, on some things the parents of the babysat should know.
1. Please contact me with enough warning time.
I’ve been called and asked “Can you babysit tonight?”. Sometimes you’re in a pinch, but this really puts a babysitter on the spot. Please try to give me as much notice as possible so I can plan accordingly and not go crazy at the last minute.
2. Your kids are not perfect angels, but I’m probably not going to tell you everything they did.
Your toddler ran around the house naked for half an hour because he didn’t want me to dress him, and you might not know about it. I don’t think this is a big deal, but if you want to know details like this, please ask. Kids don’t always listen to me (“Don’t grab that toy”, “Please finish eating _____” etc.) but I don’t know what is important to you to know. Instead of asking “How’d it go?” maybe ask specific questions like “Did So-And-So have a hard time at all?”, “Did they play nicely together?”, or “Did you have any trouble putting them to bed?”. Of course, only ask if it’s something you want to know. Kids are kids and don’t always get along, and I’ll tell you if anything major happened.
3. Please arrive home at the time you told me you would.
Arriving slightly early can be fine. Arriving late is honestly rather rude, unless you contact me and ask if I can stay later. Please take into consideration that I might have some sort of time constraint. Personally, I don’t like driving super late at night. And it’s really hard to stay awake sometimes when you’re gone for hours after the kids are in bed.
4. Please warn me about any pets you have.
I’ve babysat for a couple families who have pets (cats, dogs) and forgot to tell me about them ahead of time. It’s not the end of the world, especially since these were well-behaved pets. But it would have been a bad situation had I been allergic to them.
5. If you have a routine you want me to follow, please write it down.
When I’m new to a house and am told where everything is at once, plus when to put the kids to bed, and everything in between, it’s easy to forget a detail. How do you do dinner? Do you read books before bed? Say specific prayers? Brush the little one’s teeth for her? Just jot down the important details.
6. If you’re going to be out late into the evening, please let me know.
This goes along with #3. It’s hard to stay awake if you’re out significantly late into the night, especially if the kids go to bed early. If this is your plan, let me know so I can bring something to keep myself occupied.
7. It’s really much easier for me to babysit when you’re gone.
Not only is it slightly awkward to babysit when you’re here, but the kids will probably not want to listen to or play with me if they don’t know me well yet. If they’re younger, they probably won’t want to see you go. Spend a little time acquainting me with your house and kids, then skedaddle stealthily. Your kids will be okay if you hired a trustworthy babysitter. Honestly. I’m not a serial killer.
8. Ask me ahead of time about rates and preferred type of payment.
I’ll let you know my rates ahead of time, but I would really prefer if you were the one to ask. Personally, I would prefer to be paid with a check because I deposit it right into my bank account and it doesn’t get mixed in with my wallet. It doesn’t matter too much, but just talk about it ahead of time. And if it’s been a rough day, consider tipping a babysitter who has done a good job 🙂
That’s a wrap! If you have anything to add, let me know in the comment section!