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Are You a Babysitter’s Worst Nightmare?

Ever wonder what your babysitter says behind your back? I live in a tight knit neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley (or just The Valley if you’re in the know). I would imagine it’s similar to a small town in the south only with way more kids going on commercial auditions. The nannies and babysitters in this area all seem to know each other and share information. I call it the Nanny Mafia and let’s just say you don’t want to get on their bad side because if you are, you will not be able to find anyone in a 10 mile radius willing to come over on a Saturday night.

Maybe I’m a curious person or maybe I like to gossip or maybe I just like to hear how others screw up so I don’t make the same mistakes but I’ve spoken to a lot of babysitters about what pisses them off.

I have one nanny friend in particular who has worked with a lot of families. She’s amazingly gifted with children and I can’t imagine anyone not treating her with the utmost respect and gratitude for the kickass job she does with kids but unfortunately for her that isn’t the case. Fortunately for me, she gives me all the gory details.

Here now are some ways you may be pissing off the person you need most. By the way, don’t kill the messenger.

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  • Underpaying 1 of 11
    Underpaying
    So there you are, just through interviewing the greatest sitter/nanny you've ever had the pleasure of inviting into your home to potentially entrust your three beautiful, but let's be honest, rambunctious children. You have a long list of "must haves" when it comes to the right person and this lady has them all and then some. So you low ball her. Look, you aren't buying a car, you're hiring a human being to love your kids. If you want someone to love working for you, take the going rate wherever you live and exceed it by a dollar.
  • Expecting Mary Poppins 2 of 11
    Expecting Mary Poppins
    Yes your sitter should be creative and not rely on the TV to keep your kids entertained (unlike we do) but there are limits. It's not preschool and they are most likely not going to do twelve art projects, a dramatic interpretation of a classic fairy tale, learn French and have a cooking lesson while you're out getting your nails done. Lower your expectations and when you come home and discover your children are fed, happy and had a story you will be over the moon.
  • Micromanaging 3 of 11
    Micromanaging
    Example: You've given your sitter/nanny the parameters of what your kids can and cannot eat for lunch but then at 12:30 on the dot you call. "What are you giving Noah for lunch?" you ask suspiciously. Your sitter answers, "I boiled up some pasta and put some of that Trader Joe's sauce on it that you showed me." "Which Trader Joe's sauce?" you ask as if it's been four days since the tour of your pantry and not four hours. "The one with the veggies in it." "Well, make sure you add some grated cheese. Noah really likes grated cheese. The cheddar but not the sharp cheddar. And did you give him juice?...well don't. We don't allow juice at lunch. Also, did you already feed him because I really like him to eat at 12:30 exactly and not before." Babysitters adore conversations like this.
  • Being Late 4 of 11
    Being Late
    It would be unacceptable if your sitter was late without calling right? So why would it be okay with your sitter if you say you'll be home by nine and you come rolling in at one a.m.? Sure sometimes things come up whether at work or out on your date but have the courtesy to call or text to say you'll be late and about what time they can expect you. Also, if you think you'll be late, make sure it's okay ahead of time.
  • Scolding Her In Front of the Kids 5 of 11
    Scolding Her In Front of the Kids
    This seems like common sense but I have had more than one sitter tell me it's happened to them. Nothing undermines your sitter's authority more than you correcting them in front of the ones who are supposed to be listening to her.
  • Time To Lean Time To Clean 6 of 11
    Time To Lean Time To Clean
    Unless you've worked it out beforehand, don't expect your sitter to clean your house just because she has a few minutes of downtime. Sure she should clean up after meal time and straighten up after your kid but if you come home to a freshly vacuumed house and a spotless bathroom, she's not watching your kid. Also, if you have a lot of kids, she's going to get tired. If there's a break in the action or the kids have gone to bed she should be able to relax just like you would!
  • Not Giving Sick Days 7 of 11
    Not Giving Sick Days
    Okay, this is for full-time help. If you don't want your nanny coming over when she's really sick you have to pay her to stay home at least sometimes. This is just human decency. She can't help getting sick once in awhile and if she can't afford to not get paid she'll force herself to come and give it to your kids.
  • Not Providing Food 8 of 11
    Not Providing Food
    You can't expect your sitter to eat hot dogs and corn on the cob just because that's what the kids are eating. For God's sake kick in a sandwich or a Trader Joe's salad or Lean Cuisine.
  • Asking Her To Babysit Extra Kids 9 of 11
    Asking Her To Babysit Extra Kids
    If you want them to watch extra kids you have to pay extra money. This seems obvious but apparently not everyone understands that this is unfair. Apparently some people think that having the sitter watch more kids will just be easier for her because the kids will entertain each other. This may be true but you still need to pay extra. That's just how life works.
  • Giving Her Rules 10 of 11
    Giving Her Rules
    It's one thing to restrict your kids' TV time but don't tell your sitter that she isn't allowed. Ditto for not allowing any personal phone calls or checking her email. Of course if your sitter is spending a lot of time on the phone or online shoe shopping on your time and dime you don't need rules you need a different sitter. I don't know anyone who does this but some people must or babysitters wouldn't be complaining about it.
  • Using Her As a Trophy 11 of 11
    Using Her As a Trophy
    I had a great babysitter recount having to go to lunch with her boss and her boss's friends so that the boss could seem like she was a great mom by having her kids with her yet not have to actually parent cause the sitter was there. Not cool. Your sitter will feel like an idiot and you will look like an a-hole.

 

Want more from me on Babble? Try The Secret Shame of Raising Picky Eaters or  Have You Gone To the Parenting Dark Side?

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MORE ON BABBLE:

12 reasons NOT to friend your babysitter on Facebook
8 signs you’ve gone to the parenting dark side
5 things your babysitter won’t tell you
11 totally shameless mom habits
The top 15 mommy meltdown moments

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