You’ve found the perfect babysitter. They’re always on time, they’re great with the kids, and they can get your little Sophia to bed without a fuss. Now you want to make sure you don’t lose them. Just like you don’t want just anybody watching your kids, babysitters don’t want to babysit for just anyone. Here is a list of common pitfalls not to fall into if you want to your babysitters to work for you again.
1. Don’t welcome them
A surefire way to get off on the wrong foot with a babysitter is to not greet them properly. When you welcome a new babysitter into your home, act excited to see them and show them around. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it sets the tone. When the kids see you’re friendly and excited to see the babysitter, they’ll follow suit. Secondly, giving the babysitter a warm welcome helps them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to give them a quick tour too, so they can get familiar with your home. It’ll be much easier for them to make the kids dinner if you show them around the kitchen before you go, and they’ll be grateful you showed them how to turn on the TV once the little ones go to bed.
2. Leave them with no information
You can’t just walk out the door when the sitter arrives without giving any information. Emergency numbers, behavioural problems, allergies, medications – this is all information your sitter needs to know for safety reasons. Some information, like when you expect to be home, you can just tell the sitter before you go, but important information, like the phone number you can be reached at, should be written down and stuck on the fridge. The safety stuff is important, but don’t forget other information that might be helpful. Does your child have a specific bedtime routine? Is there an easy way to calm them down from a tantrum? What’s the wifi password? Providing this info will make the experience go smoother and be much more enjoyable.
3. Leave a novel of instructions
Yes, you don’t want to leave the caregiver clueless and empty-handed, but leaving pages upon pages of instructions, rules and schedules doesn’t do any good either. The babysitter has experience and knows what they’re doing, so there’s no need to micromanage. You don’t need to describe how your child likes to eat apple slices at 6 p.m. while playing Clue Jr. Let your child decide when they’re ready for snack, and whether they want to play Clue Jr. or Monopoly. If the sitter is too caught up in the details of the instructions, they won’t be able to pay attention to your kid.
4. Surprise them
Surprises are for birthday parties and presents, not for babysitters. It’s not fair to forget to tell the sitter about your Saint Bernard. What if they’re allergic to dogs? It’s also not fair to tell the babysitter you only have one child, and then wait until they arrives to tell them your child has a playdate and they’ll also be watching four other kids from the neighbourhood. Babysitters need to know what they’re in for ahead of time so they can be prepared and make the proper arrangements.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you leave the house is have a long, drawn-out, dramatic goodbye. Yes, there may be tears. It’s a good thing you’re leaving your kid with a child care professional who knows exactly what to do! Coddling, hovering, and spying will only make things worse – we promise. The sooner you leave, the sooner they’ll stop crying, so stick to a quick, cheerful goodbye, and get out. Your babysitter will thank you.
6. Check in too often
You would probably be pretty upset if you found out the babysitter was texting and calling friends while watching your child, so you shouldn’t want them on the phone with you the whole time either. It’s reasonable to check in on a new sitter once or twice, but texting every few minutes, calling for updates constantly, and demanding pictures of playtime is way too much. You should have left the sitter your number, so let them call you if there’s a problem. Show them you trust them, give them space, and let them focus on your child.
7. Make them do too much
Yes, it’s okay to ask the babysitter to clean up after dinner or help with some homework. But to expect that they’ll go over and above the job description, like wash and fold the laundry or do a whole science project, is a definite no-no. Babysitters are there to watch your kids; they’re not maids. If you have any special requests, make sure it’s agreed upon in advance – don’t just spring it on them. Keep it simple with the sitter. Just ordering pizza makes it easy on everyone: your kids will enjoy the treat and the babysitter will get to spend time with your child instead of worrying about meal prep and clean-up.
8. Come home late
If you expect your babysitter to arrive at the agreed-upon time, the same should be expected of you. The babysitter might actually prefer if you stay out and party longer (more hours means a bigger paycheck), but you never know. They might have another job booked or plans with friends after you come home. Delays happen and might be outside your control, but if you know you’re going to come home later than you told the sitter, at least give them a head’s up, so they’re not up all night worrying.
9. Don’t pay them on time
This is a common scenario. You get home from your night out at the movies, you bought popcorn and candy, and now you don’t have enough cash to pay the babysitter. “I’ll pay you next time you babysit,” you say. Don’t! Your babysitter did their job – they kept your kids alive and well while you were out, and now you have to live up to your end of the deal. What if they don’t babysit for you again, or you don’t need them for a few months, and they were depending on the money now? Before you get home, make sure you have enough cash to properly compensate the babysitter. Lucky for you, the BookJane app negates this issue by automatically charging your credit card through the app, no tip needed!
10. Cancel last-minute (without paying)
Remember, the babysitter set aside their time to work for you with the promise of being paid. What if they turned down another gig to work for you? What if they planned their schedule around your day? Cancelling at the latest possible moment is unfair and frustrating. Same goes for coming home early. It’s great that you come home early, but what if the sitter was counting on the money from those extra hours? If you cancel on short notice or come home earlier than you anticipated, it’s common courtesy to pay your sitter anyway.