In last week’s post, I wrote about how to become everyone’s favourite babysitter.
This week, we’re turning things around and talking about what you can do as parents that will make your babysitter say “Yes! This is my favourite family ever to babysit for!”
I don’t think this needs much introduction, so let’s dive on in with this list.
Communicate with them
As with every other relationship on earth, they key to maintaining a good relationship with your babysitter is open communication. As a babysitter, there’s nothing worse than finding out half an hour before you’re supposed to start that the location is actually an hour away.
Any time you hire someone to watch your children, you need to give them four pieces of information ASAP:
What time and how long?
What time do you need your babysitter to arrive, and how late should they expect to stay? They have a life too, so it’s important that you give them the information so they can determine if that particular job will work or not.
Sometimes I have to turn down a late-night babysitting gig because I have something going on early the next morning.
How many and what ages?
How many children are they expected to watch? How old are your children?
A young babysitter might not be comfortable caring for an infant. Someone inexperienced probably doesn’t want to dive right in with 6 kids.
I personally don’t prefer keeping older kids, though I do it sometimes. Most of my experience is with littles and I feel a bit out of my depth with older kids. At the very least, I like to mentally plan out some activities. It helps to know these things ahead of time.
Where is your house? How far are they going to need to drive? If you expect your babysitter to be there on time (which you should), they have to plan out when they have to leave.
All of these factors should go into how much you pay your babysitter. More on that in a minute.
Let them know ahead of time how much you plan to pay them. It’s no fun finding out at the end of a long difficult gig that the parents are going to be stingy about payment.
I tend to be lenient about payments, but I know other babysitters who will turn down jobs that aren’t priced appropriately. For some, it’s just extra pocket money. But for those of us who actually make a living off of babysitting, it makes a huge difference how much we get paid.
Treat them like a person
I hope you’re surprised to see this on here. You should be.
Thankfully I’ve never actually had a negative experience as a babysitter, but when I worked at a daycare, some parents liked to pretend that I didn’t exist. Didn’t want to hear about their kid’s day, didn’t want to know when their kid was out of diapers, didn’t even want to say “Hello” or “Good morning” – common courtesy stuff.
Don’t be that parent.
Your babysitter is doing you a favour, even if that favour is paid. Treat them kindly and remember that they’re a person too. They have stuff going on just like you do. They have good days and bad days.
Now, if you have a nannying arrangement with someone where they are working for you regularly like a dayjob, you can consider asking them to bring their own lunch, as they would at a job.
However, for the majority of babysitting gigs, it’s appropriate to provide available food for your babysitter if they’re going to be there during a mealtime. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be different from what the kids are eating (unless you have a baby… please no pea puree).
In turn, you can expect them to clean up after the meal and put things away.
Pay them appropriately (and promptly!)
I told you we’d come back to this topic. Here we are.
We talked about the information you should give your babysitter ahead of time. All of that information factors into paying your babysitter.
How many hours are you asking them to work? More hours = more pay.
How many children are they watching? More children = more pay.
How far away is your home? This may or may not factor in as much, but if they have a particularly long drive, it’s nice to compensate them for their time.
I’m planning to write a babysitting FAQ soon (will link when it’s up), but until then, here is a general estimate for babysitting prices in the state of Georgia (as a point of reference, min. wage here is $7.25).
- Rural/small town: $8-10/hour
- City/suburb: $10-15/hour
When in doubt, $10/hour is pretty reasonable for basic babysitting. If you have more kids, you’ll probably want to add about a dollar per kid.
You may also want to keep in mind factors such as age and experience of the babysitter, duties and requirements (do you want them to do some cleaning? does your child have special needs that have to be regularly attended to? does your babysitter need to cook a meal or are you ordering pizza?), and your own personal income (what can you afford?).
Don’t be afraid to negotiate a little if you feel the price is unfair or more than you can afford at the time. But be aware that some babysitters may choose to move on to a different family if you pay significantly less than everyone else.
Discipline your children
I have actually stopped working for a couple families based on lack of discipline. Out of control kids, awful mess, lazy parents? No thanks. I’ll find someone else to work for.
You don’t want to work in an environment where the boss has no control and everyone acts nuts. Neither do we. Do your job as a parent so that when someone else watches your kids, it’s a pleasant experience.
It’s a common misconception in parenting that the way your raise your kids is nobody else’s business. On the contrary, it’s the business of everyone else who comes into contact with your children for the rest of their lives. Make that contact positive.
[related reading: Why Refusing to Punish Children is Actually Ungodly]
Keep your word
This is mainly related to two things:
Timeliness and pay.
Are you home when you say you’re going to be home? Is your babysitter left trying to stay awake into the wee hours of the morning while you’re off partying three hours later than you said you would be (speaking from personal experience here)?
We understand that sometimes things come up. If you’re not sure whether you’ll make it back in time, ask your babysitter if they have any other commitments directly afterwards, or a certain time they need to be home by. Does your teenage babysitter have school the next day? Be considerate of their obligations.
If something unexpected does come up, refer back to tip #1 and COMMUNICATE with your babysitter immediately. Let them know what happened and how much longer you expect to be.
Almost every babysitter has experienced it. The dreaded pay stiffing.
Thankfully, I can say it’s only happened to be once, which is incredible considering the amount of babysitting I do.
(Thanks, families I babysit for! Y’all rock!)
You have entered into a contract with your babysitter. They have agreed to care for your children while you are away, and you have agreed to compensate them for it.
Make sure you have a way to do that. Preferably not an IOU – those tend to fall by the wayside. Write a cheque, stop by the ATM on the way home, use PayPal or Venmo (we’re in the 21st century, right??). Whatever works. But make sure that payment is prompt and correct to what was agreed upon.
Set your expectations (and make them reasonable)
This goes right back to tip #1: Communcation.
Let your babysitter know exactly what you expect over the course of the evening. Write it down if it’s complicated.
I know some parents who keep a babysitting information sheet for when babysitters come over. It lists some basic details about each of their kids (birthday, personality, toy preferences…etc), household rules, bedtime routine, and contact information for both parents.
If you’re not that organized, it’s fine. Just give a basic overview of what the evening (or morning, or afternoon) should look like.
- Supper around 6
- Let them play until 7
- Brush teeth and put on PJs
- Lights out at 7:30
Easy peasy. 🙂
Follow these tips and you’ll find yourself becoming your babysitter’s favourite family in no time!