Babysitting rules for parents

I have three children who are old enough to babysit and it's been interesting to be on this end of it... the parent of a babysitter, that is.  Some of my children babysit a lot.  M. in particular has several families (both friends and relations) whom she enjoys babysitting for and with whom the whole thing works out well.  (I just want to assure those families, the ones my children sit for repeatedly, that this is not about them.)  But, there are others.  Families who were given M.'s name by someone else, whom she has sat for once, and whom, she has announced will not sit for again.  There are various reasons for this, and you might be surprised to know that is often has very little to do with the children, and nearly all to do with the behavior of the parents.

So you have found a babysitter that you really like and who your children really like and would love to keep that babysitter returning, here are some guidelines to make that possible.

  1. Do not fight with your spouse in front of the babysitter.  This would seem obvious, but evidently it needs to be said.
  2. Be home at the time you say you will.  I understand that sometimes being late is unavoidable, but if that is the case, call the sitter as soon as you realize you will be late and let the sitter know.  And apologize!  It might not hurt to remember that your babysitter is my child and I'm waiting up as well.
  3. Give the sitter a working phone number.  Because when you're two hours late and the sitter is concerned, having a non-functioning phone number does not encourage the sitter.
  4. Be realistic about what time the sitter should arrive at your house, or if you are having the sitter come early so that you can get dressed, be clear about what your expectations are.  Otherwise, it is a waste of the sitter's time to sit around for an hour and a half when you're still home.
  5. Do NOT tell a friend they can stop by the house while you are gone, unless the friend is known to the sitter as well.  At least my child is well-trained and that friend will not be let in the house if my child is there alone.
  6. If you have pets, ask a new sitter if she is comfortable (or allergic) to your cat or dog.  More than once M. has arrived at a home to be greeted by a huge dog.  She's OK with that, but what if your new sitter was afraid of large dogs or severely allergic to your cat?
  7. And my friend reminded me of another one that is important to add... it's just safer for all involved to be above suspicion.  The wife should always drive a female babysitter home.  Why invite trouble?


LawMommy said…
These are all excellent points. What are M's thoughts regarding how much one should pay the babysitter? My anxiety over how much to pay the babysitter is the primary reason I have only ever hired a babysitter on one occasion. (We are lucky that we have grandparents and aunts and uncles who are available for babysitting, so it's not like I never go out with my husband. However, I might do so more often if I could figure out how much to pay a babysitter.) (This is a pathetic question, isn't it? I mean the obvious answer is, "ask the girl how much she charges"...but somehow they seem to respond, "Whatever you think is fair.")
thecurryseven said…
Law Mommy -- I talked to M. and here is her answer. (Keep in mind that the area where we live is a little out of touch with the rest of the world as far as prices for things go, imho.) She usually gets paid between and 8 and 12 dollars an hour. If asked, she will, depending on the number of children, she will usually say she get paid ~$10 an hour. This is also dependent on whom she is sitting. If it's a family she knows and also happens to know they don't fit the typical North Shore demographic, she will quote a lower price.

I also asked her what she would say if a family asked if they could pay her significantly below what she usually earns, and while she's never faced that, she hopes she would say, "Well, my usualy rate is actually ____." But this is something we've discussed and she would be prepared to stand up for herself. I'm not sure this would be true for young babysitters in general.

Probably a better indicator of what the going rate is in your area is to ask around other parents and see what they are paying. It would give you a better starting point to begin negotiations. I think one reason that many babysitters are hesitant to quote a price is that they haven't had a parent help them practice stating with confidence what their rates are.

Perhaps I should write a list of rules for babysitters as well.

FPCE Youth said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lucy said…
I like them all, except the last one. Should the husband always drive the male baby sitter home? Or is the presumption that the babysitter will always be female?

It kind of spoke to the current societal trends of demonizing males, and I don't like that trend at all. You have boys, and a husband. Surely you think more of him than that? And if it's the babysitter that you're worried about, very likely she should not be alone with your children.

Sorry to be negative, I like your blog very much; perhaps I just worry now about my baby boys' future, in a way I never did before I had boys ;-) but realistically, people tend to live down to our expectations and society sets some pretty awful ones.
thecurryseven said…
Hi Lucy,

I appreciate your comments and I agree that our society does tend to demonize males... and I don't like it. But we live in a sinful world and need to be wise. I have just a couple of comments in reply.

I wrote these as the parent of a babysitter. Many times M. sits at a home where I don't personally know the family. The husband may indeed be the salt of the earth, but since I don't know him, I'm not entirely comfortable with my daughter being in the car alone with him. If I were hiring a sitter who did not know our family well, I expect that her parents would feel the same way... even if I trust my husband implicitly.

Second, we are called to be above reproach and to never put ourselves in situations where anyone could ever point a finger. I've noticed that even within our circle of friends whom we know very well and do trust our children with that the husbands are all very careful to never be alone with another family's child. If they must drive one somewhere they will also take a child of their own to go along. It has nothing to do with trust and everything to being wise about what situations you allow yourself to be in. (It is the same reason we keep computers in public areas of our home, we use one family email, and our children know our fb passwords... it is easier to be above reproach when the whole world is watching you.)

It is very sad that this is the way our world is, but I'm afraid that we have to make the best of it this side of heaven.

TJC said…
I agree with your last rule, E. The same principle applies in schools--a false claim of impropriety is still enough to ruin a career.
Anonymous said…
Putting all politically correctness aside, as a 16 year old female babysitter this is why 1.for the peace and mind of my parents. 2. For the peace and mind of me! Let's be honest our society does suck because those thoughts have to go through my head all the time "am I safe" I can tell you it doesn't matter how much the wife trusts her husband it matters how much I trust him and unless he is my dad or if it is a dire emergency I am not getting in that car.
Anonymous said…
Putting all politically correctness aside hear are the two reasons the wife should drive me home(from a 16 year old female babysitters mind) 1. For the peace and mind of my parents 2.for the peace and mind of me!

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