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7 Things Your Babysitter Won't Tell You

What secrets is your babysitter keeping from you?

I’m guilty of virtually never leaving my children with a babysitter.  Which is not a good thing for one’s marriage, I assure you.  I am just too freaked out to leave my kids with a stranger and there isn’t really any obvious babysitter candidate where we live. Oh yeah, and I’m too lazy to go about hiring someone.

But after reading an article in Yahoo! yesterday, maybe I’m making the right choice.  The article details ten things your child care provider won’t tell you.  Some of them were obvious, like be sure and thank your nanny, so I dumped those and focused on those you may not have thought about.

1. The way you treat your childcare provider matters

You might be in a rush to drop off your child at daycare or pick them up on your way home, but that’s no reason not to take a moment to be kind to your childcare provider.

Okay, this one isn’t so scary.  It’s more like, well duh!  In the same way you should be aware that if you’re a punk to your waiter you may end up with a little something extra in your food.  Bottom line:  your babysitter watches your most precious possessions and, if she works in your home, has access to your underwear drawer.  Be nice!

2. Timing is important

Being on time to pick up your child matters not only to your daycare provider, but also to your children. “The child may think that he doesn’t matter, because his mom or dad makes no effort to pick him up on time.”

This one is no surprise to me either.  I generally consider being on time as late.  My “on time” is five minutes early.

3. Nannies are not maids

Lisa, a nanny in Greenville, S.C., said she was fired when she refused do housework. “Because I didn’t feel like cleaning the bathroom, they decided to put [the child] in daycare,” she said. Nonetheless, families can confuse the role of a nanny. For her part, Tina Carey, a full-time nanny in the Boston area, once quit a job because she didn’t want to polish the family’s silver. “I said, ‘No, ma’am. If you’re looking for a housekeeper, that’s not me.’”

I used to be a nanny.  The woman went to the gym for several hours every morning while I watched her toddler.  Not only did I wake her son, feed him, bathe him and play with him, but she wanted me to vacuum the entire house (this was no small digs, either) before she got home.  I don’t mind cleaning up after her son, but she would actually check the vaccuum tracks on the carpet!  No footsteps!  She wanted smooth, uninterrupted vacuum tracks.  I stayed because they paid well but I secretly disliked her.

4. They see other nannies yelling at — or ignoring — other children

Some nannies engage with the children they take care of and others are busy on cell phones.  One care giver said she saw a little boy nearly get hit by a car while his nanny napped on a blanket.  Another nanny witnessed verbal abuse.  “There used to be a caregiver I would see at the school … who would constantly scream at and berate the child she looked after,” said a nanny named Jennifer. “I wondered how the child’s parents could have hired a woman like that.”

This is where the cameras hidden in teddy bear bellies come in, right?  How much are those again?

5. Your child might be a bully

“If your children are getting into fights regularly, they are probably starting them,” says another anonymous child care provider. If you see bites or bruises on your child, ask your childcare provider who is actually hitting whom. They might be afraid to tell you on their own.

6. Your kids need more attention … from you

Lisa works for a family where both parents travel often. “The kids do miss them,” she said. But parents also need to be present when they are home. The 10-year-old boy she babysits was trying to read his father a story he wrote recently. “The dad had his face in his Blackberry and was like, ‘Uh huh, uh huh.’” Lisa said the boy acts out when he’s missing his parents. “He wakes up every night, at least twice in the night and asks for his mom. He starts to cry,” she said.

Aw, man.  Did you really need to read this to know that you should put the electronics away?  In fact, I’m guilty right now!  My daughter keeps trying to shut my laptop as I type this.

7. Your kid has a developmental problem

No one is going to tell a parent there’s something wrong with their child, especially someone being paid by those parents.  However, being with your children for long periods of time makes your babysitter pretty observant.  She might be the first person to recognize a problem.

Bottom line – If you can’t afford a good babysitter maybe you need to pull your kid out of some extra-curricular program in order to bolster a child care provider’s pay.  Don’t skimp on the nanny because you get what you pay for.  Also, don’t treat the person who wipes your child’s nose as the hired help. Treat the babysitter like a member of the family and you’ll likely be rewarded by an excellent employee who will likely go the extra mile without you having to ask.

Photo: flickr.com/Wuertle

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