The relationship between a family and a babysitter is unique. Parents entrust their most prized possession, their children, with a babysitter. They are rusting their sitter to be an extension of them; to uphold the house rules, keep their kids safe, and care for them the same way they would their own kids. In a way, babysitters often become part of the family so sometimes the lines of professionalism get a little blurry. The familial feelings are definitely not one-sided. I’ve only gotten to experience the babysitter perspective, but I can attest to the fact that after spending a lot of time with any family, they do begin to feel like my family. I’m ferociously protective over the kids and feel genuine pride when they accomplish great things. After working with many families, I’ve been in situations where I’ve been really happy with my job and others where I dreaded going. Upon reflection, I realized there are several things parents have done (subconsciously or not) to keep me happy and I think other parents could benefit from a few insider’s tips.
Whether it’s a date night sitter or a caregiver that’s with your family every day, I’m sure you don’t want a revolving door of people watching your children. The easiest way to keep a good babysitter coming back is to be mindful of the following 4 things:
Pay Your Sitter Fairly
I always feel super awkward when it comes to discussing my pay rate with families. Frankly, with my experience, I deserve to be being paid more than what you’d pay the high schooler that lives next door to you. In addition, watching two toddlers is a lot more work than “watching” two teenagers and I think the hourly rate should reflect that. Instead of negotiating with families, I have a tendency to simply decline their requests for my services because the way I see it, they don’t recognize my value. Care.com has a rate calculator that can give you some insight if you have no clue what you should pay. If you will be asking your babysitter to do a lot of driving, you should also pay for the gas they use.
Make the Rules Upfront and Clear
Every house runs slightly different. As a babysitter, I strive to be an extension of the parents when it comes to what is expected of the kids. When I start with a new family, I like to sit down with parents and kids and have the parents go over the rules. This way the kids and I are clear on what the rules, expectations, and consequences are. Your babysitter is not there to be the disciplinarian for you or to make your kids do things that you’re not able to. This also helps ensure your family is happy because you won’t have a babysitter making things up as they go.
Be Respectful of Their Time
Time is one thing that no matter how hard we try, we can’t replace. I totally understand that sh*t happens and sometimes you can’t control everything, but when you’ve told your sitter you’re going to be home by a certain time, that’s when they’re expecting you. If life happens and you’re going to be late, at least call and let them know. Also, when you ask them to babysit in the first place, tell them how long you intend to be gone. We have lives outside of the walls of your home and it would be nice to be able to make plans (i.e. know how long we have to work). If you wouldn’t be okay with going to work and just staying indefinitely until your boss says you can go, don’t do it to your babysitter.
If you’ve asked your babysitter to care for your children during dinnertime, be considerate and feed them. Don’t make them ask if it’s alright for them to have some pizza too, offer before they have to ask. If you’re family is going on vacation or you find yourself not needing your babysitter for an extended period of time (kids are going to camp, grandparents are visiting, etc.) be considerate of the fact that this is a money paying job for your babysitter. Perhaps you offer to pay them half of whatever you normally would or maybe you introduce them to another family in need of a sitter. It’s important that you put yourself in their shoes. Could you work all day/night without a meal? Could you and your family survived if you didn’t get paid for a week or more?
Finding a good babysitter is hard and after they’ve been with you for a while, it can be easy to get too comfortable. I firmly believe that if you treat your babysitter how you’d want to be treated, the relationship will remain positive. I think it is most important for parents to remember they are now employers and this is a job for their babysitter.
Does your family have a babysitter? How do you foster an effective and positive relationship with your babysitter? Are you a babysitter? What are some things you need from the families who employ you?