GREAT (When can I hire you again?)
GOOD (You did a good job. I might call you if a GREAT babysitter is not available.)
BAD (This will be your first and last time babysitting my kids).
When I was a teenager a neighbor down the road asked me to babysit her 9 year old son. I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea because I remembered he wasn’t well behaved and she didn’t pay much. For some reason I took the job and was immediately regretting it after I had to wake up at the crack of dawn and show up at his house at 6 AM. At some point in the morning I was sitting on the couch and fell asleep (I know, worst babysitter ever). I was awakened by the kid holding the phone to my ear with his mom screaming at me. I remember her asking me if I thought I could stay awake long enough to watch her precious child. He was 9….practically old enough to stay home alone. I said yes and rode out the rest of the day. 10 hours and $10.00 richer, I was done with babysitting, or at least for that lady.
My embarrassing example shows you what kind of babysitter you (or me) do not want. According to our classification system, I would have fell under the BAD babysitter. Christa and I came up with a list of criteria that shows what constitutes a great, good, or bad babysitter. Ideally your child who babysits will fall into the great category and have as many babysitting jobs as their hearts desire. When I am looking for a babysitter, I (and most people) start by asking my A+ babysitters. If none of these are available, I would move to the next tier of babysitters. Christa has taught all of her girls these babysitting rules and I will print out this blog for my daughters when they are old enough to babysit. We recommend you do the following:
- Print this blog and share it with your babysitter. There is nothing unreasonable here. Your kids are your most precious beings, so you should have very high standards.
- Print this blog and share it with your child who babysits. We have lots of friends who use babysitters and hear the feedback about the different ones. One thing that my daughter Allison always does when she babysits is cleans up when the kids go to sleep and make the house look better than the parents leave it. This always gets her a little extra cash and a lot of compliments!
GR: Responds quickly to your babysitting request- yes or no. They respect that you need an answer so that you can move forward if necessary.
GO: Responds in a reasonable time.
B: Responds when they feel like it. They don’t care that you need to find someone else if they aren’t able to take the job.
GR: Arrives 10 minutes early
GO: Arrives on time
B: Arrives late
GR: Checks cell phone every once in a while to see if parents are checking in- no personal use while kids are awake.
GO: Responds to parents texts in a reasonable time, kids report back to parents that babysitter was on their phone a few times not related to your texts.
B: On phone entire job.
4. Affection For Kids
GR: Loves kids, handles melt downs beautifully
GO: Likes kids
B: Rolls eyes at kids, “How much am I being paid again?”
5. Interaction with kids
GR: Plays games, interacts with the kids, does not keep them in front of a tv for long periods of time (if any). (***** extra brownie points: the babysitter brings a small plastic container filled with some fun stuff…ex: bubbles, playdough, coloring books, etc…all of these can be found at the dollar store)
GO: Interacts some with the kids, has them in front of tv a lot.
B: Does not like kids and does not interact with kids “Where is my phone again to text”.
GR: Makes sure baby’s diapers are checked and changed if needed every hour.
GO: Checks diaper every few hours.
B: “I don’t change diapers”, rarely checks diapers and parents come home with a soiled child.
GR: The house looks better after the job compared with when they arrived. Babysitter cleans up after kids and after themselves. Babysitter tidies up common area and leaves no dishes in the sink.
GO: Babysitter cleans up after kids and themselves.
B: Babysitter does not clean up after anyone. House is a wreck when parents come home.
1. GR: Babysitter’s expectation of pay is very reasonable and correlates to their age/experience. Christa’s daughter Paige is CPR certified (was a lifeguard) and a senior in high school. When she babysat, she charged $10.00 and hour. This was a fair price.
2. GO: Babysitter expects more than really is warranted, but they are good with the kids so it is often paid.
3. B: Babysitter doesn’t understand that it is unreasonable for a middle or high school student to charge a 2-3 times minimum wage for babysitting kids. Unless you have a Master’s Degree in Child Development, along with a million other certifications and qualifications, do not expect me to pay you $20.00 an hour to watch my 3 sweet, well behaved children.
GR: These babysitters value the safety of your children and make sure that they are being watched at all times. If you have a pool, the babysitter does not take the kids anywhere near the pool and keeps the backdoor locked. They do not let small babies climb up on things that could be dangerous. This babysitter is super diligent and knows that the safety of your precious children is the most important thing.
GO: This babysitter is present with your children and watches that they are not in harms way.
B: This babysitter doesn’t pay attention to kids and lets them do whatever they want.
GR: These babysitters go above and beyond. They come with activities to do and ideas for arts and crafts. They make the time spent with them so much fun, they don’t want mom and dad to come home anytime soon. They set up a few agreed upon times for which they will send a quick text message to let you know everything is ok, but also so that they don’t feel tied to their phone. These are the ones that your kids are requesting time and time again. They are good at picking up after each activity and once the kids are in bed, then go tidy the common area so that when the parents come home, they are pleased the area is clean.
GO: These are trustworthy babysitters that will make sure your house has not burned to the ground beforeyou get home. They are polite, but don’t realize that they shouldn’t leave their empty coke cans on the counter for you to clean up. They put the kids in front of a movie and spend the hour or two texting their friends.
B: These babysitters are just clueless. They are there for one thing…MONEY. They don’t give that vibe that they really want to be there. They do the minimum possible and expect the maximum pay.
So there you have it, characteristics of A+, B, and D- babysitters. Remember that many of the clients “kids” are old enough to tell their parents exactly what went on while they were being babysat. Isabella (my little tattle teller) will always tell me which babysitters spent the entire time on their phones, and which ones actually played with them. Also, I think we as adults need to be careful how much we are paying these kids to babysit. If we set them up thinking it is reasonable to pay a teenager crazy amounts of money, we are setting them up for failure. Other teenage jobs (lifeguard, barista, clerk) do not pay much more than minimum. wage. If we are signaling to these kids that $20.00 an hour is normal, then they will turn their nose down to regular jobs. Parents who have kids who want to babysit need to sit down with them and talk about expectations and what a successful babysitting job entails.
Our question for you, what babysitting tips would you add?
P.S. to Parents reading this: Here are a few tips for you:
- Be considerate about time. If you say you will be home at 10pm, try and be home near this time. If you want to stay out longer, text the babysitter and see if it is possible.
- Make sure you leave food or snacks for the babysitter.
- Ask your child the next day how they liked the babysitter. I know my 6 year old will be honest and tell me if she liked the babysitter and if the babysitter played with them.
- Maybe have a few fun crafts or activities out for the babysitter to do. I have left cupcake stuff for the kids to make.
Here are a couple of useful links (printable with important information).