I’ve been meaning to write you for years but was deep in The Trenches of motherhood and sitting down to compose sentences on the topic was not something I could mentally do (or really had time to do). Until now. You see, I’m nearly at the point where I don’t need you anymore because my oldest daughter is 12 and will be taking over for you in our home soon. Of course she will also replace you in our community as you eventually depart high school and graduate to college, so I am training her to care for those families who will put their most precious gifts in her hands. But babysitting is about more than only making sure my kids stay alive while left in your care, and since I’m guessing you don’t know this and graciously giving you the benefit of the doubt, below is a list of what parents actually expect from you. And please know that I have been in your shoes and that this is written with total love for you, albeit blunt. I hope these tips serve you well. :)
ONE// BE PUNCTUAL
Don’t be late, simple as that. Whether we have dinner reservations or plans to meet with friends we need you to be on time because we desperately need to GET OUT. And if you can’t be on time, please text/call and let us know. It’s the responsible thing to do.
TWO// DRESS APPROPRIATELY
Even though I usually invite you into my home on Friday or Saturday nights, that does not mean that you should dress like you would on a Friday or Saturday night spent kicking it with your friends. Super short shorts, plunging necklines, and belly button baring tops are not appropriate attire in my home. Dress like you’re actually going to a job where you will get paid. For example, how the summer camp staff might dress. Maybe even dress like young impressionable kids will be paying attention to how you dress. Perhaps also consider how you dress in front of the males in my house because modesty is something we value.
THREE// GET OFF YOUR PHONE
My kids are too polite to tell you themselves, but when you put a movie on for them and then proceed to spend the next 90 minutes on your phone, it annoys them, so much so that they actually TELL ME. Kids are funny little creatures who enjoy engagement so even if you have no interest in what they’re doing, acting engaged instead of zoning out on your phone is meaningful to them. Play games with my kids, do an art project, read to them, play outside – because we are paying you to do more than sit on our couch while you chill on your phone for a few hours.
FOUR// RESPECT MY RULES
I am very Howie Mandel about clean hands. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a strict Clean Hands Rule in my house. I am constantly reminding my kids to wash their hands after they eat or play outside, less my ivory couch become their oversized napkin. So when I tell you eating is not allowed in the living room and to please make sure my kids wash their hands after meals and playing outdoors, please, for the love of God, listen! Of course that is only one example of the rules around here; bedtime is firm, no unauthorized guests, nothing besides PG-rated on the TV (even after the kids are in bed). You get the idea.
FIVE// LEAVE OUR HOUSE BETTER THAN WHEN YOU FOUND IT
I started babysitting when I was 12 years old and a piece of advice my mom gave me that I’ll never forget was to “leave the house better than when you found it”. So I did. Every single time. Consequently, I was a highly in-demand sitter because of it. After I put the children to be bed I always reserved about 45 minutes or so and cleaned the kitchen; wiping counters, washing dishes, sweeping up crumbs, and dumping the trash. I also did a general straightening of the common areas of the house, fluffing pillows and picking up toys as I went. I can’t tell you how far reaching my tidying up efforts went. I never had to seek out jobs and I was payed very very well. When we arrive home from a much-needed date night to dishes in the sink, disheveled pillows all over the couch, toys left out, and the table uncleared – well, it makes us not like you as much. And it totally kills the ethereal mood the date created in the first place. Nothing like coming home to a mess of a house. Go above what is required and bless us. We would appreciate it so much (and pay you accordingly).
Implement these five tips and you’ll be priceless. :)