Friday, May 24, 2013

Rules for Babysitting

In the last several months, we've branched out a bit and had a few "strangers" babysit the girls. Of course I learned a bit about them and asked lots of questions before we had them watch them, and so far it really has  been good for us.
The girls who have helped out have been between 18-22. About two years ago, I had a neighbor's daughter come babysit Charlotte as an infant. The babysitter was 12 (ish). She came over with a little binder with questionnaires and a list of phone numbers for me to fill out. I mean, this is big time, people. She's going to take over the biz.

Here are some things that the 18-22 crowd can learn from the tween.

  1.  Ask me questions.  Let me know that you're paying attention to my instructions and if maybe I've missed something. It's likely I have. Even if it's "do you have a wifi password?", the answer is yes, but you'll have to figure out which one is the right one because we can never remember.
  2. Play with my kids. Act like you like them. Especially when I'm still at home looking for my lip gloss and dusting off my high heels. I don't like silence while I'm trying to figure out what this crust is on my shirt and if I should change before I leave. Most of the time, the babysitters are good at this. But there have been a couple who seriously don't know what to even say to a two year old. How about "hi!"
  3. When I ask you a question, like "are you comfortable feeding the baby baby food?" I don't exactly expect you to say no, but if you've never done it before, don't lie. I'll give you more specific instructions, like "put on a bib" or "the food goes here, in her mouth. not in her ears where I'll find it tomorrow if you're lying."
  4. If you have rules, speak up. You charge your own hourly rate? Let me know right off the bat. You have a minimum amount of time that you see as "worth it"? Tell me. Sometimes I only need someone for an hour, if that's not something you're interested in, tell me first. 
  5. It's always a good idea to check in after the kids are in bed and all is well. I often let the sitter know that I'll be sending a text around 8:30 just to make sure bedtime went smoothly and help out in case something weird is going on. (Charlotte getting upset because the wrong button was pushed on her sound machine and now it's ocean waves instead of static. 2 year olds can be very specific in their white noise needs.) If you can't figure out the remote, text me. I don't want you to get so bored that you start snooping.
  6. CLEAN UP. This is something that some people are really good at, and others just don't get it. It may have been messy when you arrived because two kids were awake and pulling out every toy and book. But after bedtime is the perfect time to tidy up. How awkward would it be if I was like an actual employer (or just a mom, i guess) and I said "I will pay you after you clean up these toys and wipe the baby food off the table. Go ahead. I'll watch." Nope, just do it first and we'll avoid that situation.
  7. When I come home and ask how it went, "fine." is not an acceptable answer. Tell me how much you love the little nuggets, even if they were sort of naughty. Tell me if they were naughty. If the baby cried, you can tell me, that way I'm not surprised. If you say she didn't cry, can you tell me your secrets? Let me know if dinner went well, tell me a funny story, act like you're in it for more than the money, because FYI 18-22 year olds? You're getting paid more than our date cost. 
Yeah, maybe these rules are stupid or asking too much. 
But I just had a brilliant idea. 
In the spirit of celebrating today's technology, the babysitters can unlock "badges" for tasks they complete. A lot like four square or some other hip thing that I know nothing about.

Keep kids alive: $5/hr
Complete bedtime routine (wash face, brush teeth, comb hair, story): bonus $5
Check in with mom to say all is well: bonus $2
Clean up after the kids: bonus $5
Fold kids' laundry: bonus $5 
Unload dishwasher: bonus $5
Tell me how much you love my kids and how they are the sweetest little girls you've ever watched in your life: bonus $150. (okay, not really.)
Based on a 4 hour night out, this is $47 where over half of the hours the kids are asleep. I mean, you could get $20 for the bare minimum, but don't you feel special when you unlock badges? I do. That's why I track my food on My Fitness Pal. 

But nothing beats having family babysit. They love the kiddos, they clean up so I don't blog about them later, and they're usually free. :) 

What would you add the list? Am I asking way too much?
I babysat a lot in my youth and usually made $3-5/hr for full days, watching 3 kids. Walked uphill both ways to school. Barefoot. I had to use AOL Instant Messenger to talk to my friends. The horror. 


  1. I don't think I'd cut it as your baby sitter. I don't even like to clean up my own house. That's husband work.

  2. Wow you're brave. I only let old lady mom types watch the two of mine since the youngest puts everything in his mouth and apparently has a death wish.

    The local teenagers are too busy getting high off sniffing Red Bull and glue or whatever they do these days.

    But the Professional Grown Woman Babysitter type costs bank. :(

  3. Update your blog already! :)