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Stefanie Wilder Taylor

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Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the host of Parental Discretion on NickMom as well as the author of four books including Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour. She also hosts the podcast For Crying Out Loud.

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Are You a Babysitter’s Worst Nightmare?

By Stefanie Wilder Taylor |

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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How To Treat Your Babysitter or Nanny


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.


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

Find me on Twitter, Baby On Bored or Facebook!


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8 signs you’ve gone to the parenting dark side
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The top 15 mommy meltdown moments

More on Babble

About Stefanie Wilder Taylor


Stefanie Wilder Taylor

Stefanie Wilder-Taylor is the host of Parental Discretion on NickMom as well as the author of four books including Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay and Naptime Is the New Happy Hour. She also hosts the podcast For Crying Out Loud. Read bio and latest posts → Read Stefanie's latest posts →

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33 thoughts on “Are You a Babysitter’s Worst Nightmare?

  1. NY Phoenix says:

    Someone’s been reading “The Nanny Diaries” :)

  2. jo says:

    hah, these are all quite valid, from a babysitter’s point of view. I’ve had mostly positive experiences, but fellow student/babysitters have told me some stories… such as getting a concussion from a thrown toy and the dad saying “that’s my boy!”.
    I currently work for the best family in the world and they’re doing it right: no rules for the babysitter, always let me know when they’re late, being told you can eat anything you want in the house, being paid “above market”. these are small things and I don’t think I’ve ever taken advantage of them, but it makes one look forward to taking care of others’ kid(s).

  3. Harmony says:

    I agree with most of what is said here. Probably the only point I completely disagree on is the rules one. As a paid employee of a company I’m not allowed personal calls or personal internet usage while I’m on company time do why would I treat my paid employee differently? Time when you are being paid to do a job should be spent doing that job. I’m not ashamed to say I told my part time nanny that she may not use her cell phone on my time unless it’s an emergency. Trust me when you’re dealing with children there isn’t time for your personal life anyway so get back to work.

  4. Samira says:

    I agree with Harmony on the rules thing if you can’t or wont do it at a company your getting paid to work at then why should you be allowed to do it at a home your getting paid to work at? I mean at least limit the use to nap times like at work you do get breaks so let nap time be break time, but don’t use it while they’re awake and you’re supposed to be working.

  5. iMomma11 says:

    I worked as a nanny for a family for a short time, and it was short because they did almost all of these things to me! The mom told me at one point (because during the first week the kids watched some TV – which wasn’t “off limits” yet) “If I wanted someone to just watch the kids, and keep them in the house, and make sure they were safe, I could pay a LOT less!” She was paying me $10/hr (which is less than market value around here) for TWO kids (plus friends very often). I have a K-8 Teaching certification and a lot of teaching experience. I was incredibly insulted.

  6. Canuckmom says:

    Here’s another one, if you have the day off, and both kids are in school ALL DAY and you are staying home anyways, give the nanny the day off!!! It’s really awkward to be at the house with the dad and no kids. Really, really awkward.

  7. Canuckmom, GOOD ONE. I concur.

  8. msholloway says:

    What’s with all the spelling errors in these articles?

  9. Rlg346 says:

    Just curious what you suggest a babysitter do if after 6 weeks the parents still have not paid for the hours worked? A Grandmother relieved me and did not pay the babysitter. I assumed I would be paid next time, however with the parents travel and busy work schedule they are not reachable nor responding my multiple requests to pick up money. Multiple times they have said a check will be mailed, but I have not received anything.

    Oddly enough the parents are the owners of and I’m hoping their own website has insight on how to get them to pay the babysitter that cared for their children.

  10. Rlg346 says:

    Correction: shortly after the above comment was posted I was contacted and paid. Funny how that works!

  11. An says:

    Extra kids: back when I babysat in college I tried to only accept jobs from people who had either just one kid, or one kid and one infant. Two kids the same age are a nightmare because they gang up on you and can be terrors. They certainly didn’t “keep each other busy nicely”. Not worth the $6 an hour I was getting. One “only child” was a long-term job and was just a delightful experience. She was sweet, fun, respectful, obedient, helpful.

    I think because of that experience I wound up only having one child myself. He’s awesome on his own, but it’s such a stressful experience when he has a friend over and they get all hyped up. Kudos to all you parents and babysitters who are dealing with more than one! It’s worth double and triple pay, that’s for sure.

  12. Cristin says:

    I love all of these. The only thing I would add is leaving nanny and child alone if you’re working from home. I know you just want to check on your baby and you miss him/her, but it makes it incredibly frustrating for me. Especially if baby is going through separation anxiety and every time you come “check” on us big tears and crying ensues. Please trust me. Imagine someone standing over your shoulders as you work. It’s annoying!

  13. Ali says:

    Luckily, my babysitter doesn’t have the same feelings on a work at home mom coming and checking on my baby as Cristin. Honestly, anyone who felt that it was too much of an inconvenience to have me come and check on my child would need to find another position elsewhere. That is the point of me working from home, to be in earshot if something is wrong and to be able to see her through out the work day. Standing over you as you work is a little different when handling paperwork vs a small child. Its my job to make sure my daughter is safe and happy. If that is inconvenient…too bad.
    Btw, we adhere to all of the rules listed in the above article.

  14. Hey Ali, I’m with you since I was home the whole time with my kids and the nanny too. I think what the other commenter was saying was that the hovering mom can sometimes make things worse for a sitter who is already calming the baby. It’s the same at preschool when you leave your kids but they’re crying so you wait a little bit, go back in and your kids starts crying again. I’m sure that bothers the preschool teachers but they can just let you know as opposed to the sitter who works for you.

  15. Mary Rekosh says:

    Stefanie, this is a great post. Having worked as a nanny when I was younger, and now employing sitters as a mom of three, I concur all around except for the sick days one. I really think the sitter in that photo is faking sick in order to get that awesome mullet taken care of by a stylist. She may be all business in the front, but she’s DEFINITELY party in the back, which just isn’t professional for a nanny or anyone else.

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  17. Ashleigh says:

    I was a nanny/babysitter for about 6 years and worked with 3 different families during that time. I too agree with most. I had some weird situations at times as a nanny. Some parents just don’t think…But now that I’m going to be a mom, I hope to never abuse my babysitters.
    One family made me deal with extended family. The dad hated the mother-in-law and would make me stay longer hours and take phone calls with from her on my time off without getting paid. All so he could avoid her. (Mother had passed away from cancer years before but grandma was still involved in her granddaughters lives). That was awkward!
    The next family I worked for had 3 kids, 9 months, 3 yrs, 5 yrs. I worked long weird hours with them and often had days where they would last minute change the hours and I’d have to stay through meals I wasn’t prepared for. They also never left enough food for me. I mean, there was NO extra food as mom kept very little. One time they (very last minute) had me stay through dinner one night, I didn’t get off til midnight, I was so tired I went to bed without eating knowing I had to be back at their house at 9am. Well I got called in at 7am instead. Trying to be nice I didn’t say no. I brought a small breakfast, but didn’t have time to eat due to the amount of housework she gave me on top of watching the kids and having to drag them to the zoo that day in 95 degree heat. She didn’t pack lunch for the kids, gave me just enough money for them to eat at the zoo, so I didn’t get lunch either. Because it was so hot the kids drank all the water I brought for them, including my water bottles and I even spent what lil cash I had brought with me on more water that the kids ended up drinking as well. On my way home with the kids, I had to pull over because I didn’t feel well, blurry vision, headache, shaking. I had to be rushed to the hospital due to low blood sugar levels and dehydration. I felt awful for the family, but at the same time it wasn’t fair to me.
    The last family I worked for, we originally agreed on working 40 hours a week for a set amount of pay. I ended up working 50-60 hours and they never once offered more pay to make up for the extra hours. After I pointed out that they were always late and I deserved extra pay, they complained. I was getting 10 dollars an hour for 2 kids when I was originally only suppose to watch one (going rate in that area was 15-17/hr for 2 kids). I had to leave that family after 6 months.

  18. Stoich91 says:

    EVERY. PARENT. SHOULD. READ. THIS. These are all so true, but thank God I sit for angelic parent/kid combos. Since about 90% of ladies babysit as teens, you would think when they grow older, ladies (moms) would make the connection of how they felt when this stuff happened to THEM and try not to repeat it, but alas, society must have short-term memory! Treat your sitter right if you want them to come back. If you don’t, you can always throw them in the backyard with a pooper scooper and Rover and have the neighbor’s kids come over for a sleepover! See babysitter run! Babysitter runs very fast!

  19. Amanda says:

    I currently work as a nanny and have done so for the past 11 years. The #1 thing I tell people when they’re just starting in the nanny field is: “Stand up for yourself!” I don’t know why nannies complain about parents treating them so badly, if you don’t let them treat you badly, they won’t do it. Parents, would you let your corporate boss get away with not paying or underpaying you? Didn’t think so.

  20. Tessa says:

    I am a babysitter and recently wrote a blog similar to this but from the perspective of an actual babysitter. It covered all of this, if not more. I work for two families and one of them is a stay at home family with both the mom and dad being there all day. The child just recently started having separation issues and I have made it very clear to the mom that it does no good for her to come in every time the baby cries. I also make it a point to leave the house at every opportunity so as to alleviate those urges for the mom and dad. Also, I am with kids all day, every day and for me not to be allowed to check emails and phone calls is outrageous. It is not the same as being in an office and I am so grateful not one of my employers puts those kinds of restrictions on me.

  21. Anna says:

    Don’t expect your nanny or sitter to do more than you can do! If you can’t handle keeping the house clean, doing laundry, making dinner and playing with your kids all day during a typical day, the nanny shouldn’t be expected to either. They are not super heroes!!
    And as for the comment bout calling if you’ll be late…DON’T BE LATE! Nannies have lives too, and odds are they’re exhausted after all day with your little angels and want to get home to a much needed glass of wine. Unless someone has died, do your damnedest to get home by the preappointed time. If your kids were in daycare you’d be paying up to $5 a minute to be late. The same should apply at home.
    If you find someone who loves your kids, and who you love, do what ever you can to keep them. Raises, time off, bringing them Starbucks if you get some for yourself. Let them know how much you appreciate hem and all they do.

  22. Jessa says:

    I love the kids I babysit. I get underpaid for four kids, a 6 month old, 4 year old, 6 year old, and 11 year old ( but she takes care of her self ). I get to set the price but i choose to only do $5 dollars an hour for 4 kids.

    they don’t always watch TV, we try and play outside or do other fun things .

    if I’m not tired during nap time, i will try and clean the house, but this doesn’t get done all the time.

    It’s hard work, i do hit my limits sometimes but i warn the kids I’m tired and they sometimes get no to push things. but I love those kids like they were my own sibling.

  23. Allie says:

    Am I the only one who thinks a babysitter and a nanny are NOT the same thing?! I was a babysitter while in college–ya know, I’d go to a family friend’s house and keep their kids while they went on a date or whatever. That’s what a babysitter is. A nanny is someone who watches your kids all the time, drives them all over the place, picks them up from school, etc.

    I once had a lady in my neighborhood who had 4 children who were probably the worst-behaved, most entitled kids ever…she said she just needed a babysitter, but what she really needed was a nanny. All 4 kids had overlapping after-school activities that I had to take them to and from (babysitter duty if it’s only sometimes, nanny duty if it’s every time you take care of these kids!). She wanted me to not only help them with homework and get them all showered and in bed (typical babysitter duties), but also wanted me to make their lunches for school the next day (nanny duty!). And, the worst…if there were ever problems with her kids that I needed to call her about, she wouldn’t answer her phone! Not cool.

    Also, note to parents: if your kids are rude and ill-behaved on a regular basis, it’s going to be tough to find a regular babysitter or nanny, no matter how much you pay them. I finally stopped babysitting for this lady even though she paid me well above what the going rate was, because no amount of money was worth being hung out to dry with those kids.

  24. Jordan says:

    I am very thankful that I babysit for wonderful parents and kids. I work for seven hours with 2 kids 2 & 4. I have had some of these things happen to me and trust me, they are NOT fair.

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  26. jocelyn says:

    This is a great list. I have been a babysitter, nanny, and now a preschool teacher for many, many years. This list is spot on. I was always amazed when interviewing for positions what some parents expected you to accomplish during their work day. There are two schools of thought apparently-1. Hey your just watching kids, how hard can it be? You should be grateful i am paying you anything for just sitting around in my house. And 2. You are keeping safe the most important people in the world to me, how can I show you how grateful I am?
    Now that I am a full time working mom to two kids and have been for over a decade I am glad I skipped the people with the #1 attitude.

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  31. doodlebug123 says:

    I worked as a part-time nanny for a very wealth family in NYC. They committed nearly every single “sin” listed in this article. One time the mom told me I could leave half an hour early because everything was done, the kids had gone to bed, and the day was over. When the mom paid me at the end of the week, I noticed my pay was short $7.50. I made $15 per hour. I asked her about and it she reminded me that I had left a half hour early earlier in the week. I reminded her that she was the one who’d asked me to leave early. She scowled at me, went into her purse, and then handed me $3.75 and said: “Fine. I’m willing to split the difference.” These people lived in an apartment that cost $10,000 per month, and I know this because their doorman told me! DISGUSTING. From them on, when they told me I could leave early, I told them I preferred to stay because I couldn’t afford to lose out on $7.50.

  32. formerbabysitter says:

    I have to partially disagree with “Giving Her Rules” – it’s ABSOLUTELY okay to set limits on TV, phone, internet, etc. while she’s watching the kids… most teenagers I know REALLY need limits explained/set with their electronic devices… If your babysitter is on the phone beyond “can I call you back when I’m done babysitting?” or watching TV or surfing the internet, your kids are either not being watched, or they’re participating in the TV/Internet activity too.

    In my babysitting days..
    While the kids were awake, TV was limited (different families had different rules), Phone calls weren’t to be made unless it was related to an activity with the kids (like ordering takeout), and computers weren’t to be used unless discussed ahead of time with the parents.
    After the kids were asleep? different story – unlimited TV and use of the house phone (local calls only) – computer still with permission only (I’d feel like I was going through someone’s private stuff unless I had permission) – as long as it’s not costing you extra money for him/her to use the phone/tv/wifi, I don’t see why you WOULD restrict the sitter after the kids are in bed.

    I know smartphones add a whole new dimension to this because they’re always on and in pockets/purses, but as a parent (and someone who works with teenage kids), I think it’s an important lesson for teenagers and 20-somethings to NOT be constantly connected – you know, actually LIVING, instead of having your nose in a screen…

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