A good babysitter — one who you can trust to take care of your children and treat your house well — is hard to find. After all, they take on a lot of responsibility, are usually available at a moment’s notice, and act as another arm of discipline and authority in your home. Chances are they’re underpaid, too. So when you do find a great one, it’s essential to keep them happy. And that involves avoiding irritating behavior. We spoke to a handful of babysitters to see what behaviors they’d like their clients to avoid in order to make everyone run smoother. Give it a read and keep these things in mind. For the sitter’s sake.
1. Delaying Payment
“I hate hearing, ‘Do you mind if we pay you next week?”’ said Jessi, 20. The question may seem harmless. But for a lot of babysitters, this pay is absolutely necessary for rent, bills, transportation, food, insurance, or any basic necessity. By asking them if you can pay them next week you’re not only signaling that you don’t think that their pay is necessary, but also that you don’t realize that, for many, babysitting is a full-time job.
2. Changing Up Hours With Little Notice
“Can you stay a little longer tonight?” is also a dreaded question, according to Jessi. Usually, babysitters can stay an extra few minutes. But if they can’t, you’ve put them in an uncomfortable bind. Abby, 20, also mentioned the opposite question: “Can you cut your hours shorter today?” It’s a lot like delaying pay — babysitters depend on the money and expect to get paid what they were initially promised.
3. Not Childproofing Their Apartment
Lauren, 32, remembers one parent telling her that they “didn’t like the way child-proofing made the apartment look.” Not only is this negligent and vain, but it’s also frustrating because it means that your babysitter will have to be extra, extra careful around your home and keep a radar eye on your kid every single second.
4. Failing to Set Clear Screen-Time Rules
Several babysitters mentioned that they’re tired of parents not setting clear tech rules, with one adding that she’s tired of having parents “only set rules that are only applicable when the babysitter is around.” If the rules aren’t set, your kid has the wiggle room to argue. This makes it more difficult for the babysitter to create new rules in a house that isn’t theirs.
5. Not Allowing the Babysitter to Discipline Their Kid
Claire, 24, remembers when she asked a parent about discipline techniques and the parent responded “Don’t worry about that. They’re a good kid.” Even if that were true, your kid won’t treat the babysitter like they are you. They are going to try, more often than not, to get away with stuff that they would never try to do if you were home. Most babysitters just want to be an extension of your rulemaking — they can’t make up discipline styles out of thin air.
6. Asking (Last Minute) For Them to Take On More Responsibilities
The most annoying question for Emma, 26, is some variation of: ”Can you do laundry/walk the dog/clean up the living room for me?” Another babysitter, Abby, said the same. “I’m tired of parents asking me to clean or fold laundry for them when it wasn’t discussed as a part of my responsibilities or pay before hiring me,” she said. If you want a babysitter to take on more responsibilities, just offer additional payment. That usually helps.
7. Not Discussing — and Not Setting — a Regular Bedtime
“If they’re obviously tired and getting cranky and you attempt to put them to bed, they’ll give you the old ‘my parents said I don’t have a bedtime!’ spiel,” said Grace, 26. It’s hard to put them to bed when they have no expectation of getting in trouble for being difficult. Even if they are cranky and tired.
8. Complaining About Their Spouse
Jordan, 22, notes that this is always uncomfortable, but especially when ”it’s in front of their kid.” It may seem like you’re just venting a little bit, but the person you are venting to works with both you and your spouse — and probably only wants to do their job, not have the added stress of also being an impartial audience to other issues.
9. Failing to Give Them Tools To Deal With Bad Behavior
“One of the things that bugs me the most is when parents don’t answer my questions about how to deal with difficult behavior, and instead go on a diatribe about how their kid is sad or tired instead of giving me tools or ways to help the child,” said Bronwyn, 27. “This is tough because babysitters don’t know your kid as well as you do and need guidance and real ways to help manage your kid when they are having a rough week.”