My assistant, Monica, has been doing a lot of babysitting recently for many families from her church, for friends and friends of friends.  I’ve asked her to write a little about what babysitters wish the parents would have done/told her.
Recently I have been doing a lot of babysitting.  I went from doing it about once a month to 2-3 times a week.  I have absolutely loved it as it lets me get to know the kids better from church (I’m the Children’s Ministry Director) and it lets me get to be a part of families that might not be open to setting foot in a church.  The kids have ranged in age from just a few months to twelve years old and some of the kids i’ve known since they were born and others I met for the first time as I walked into their homes.

  • Lists. I LOVE lists.  While babysitting, lists in my opinion are a way to help keep children in their day to day routine, while their parents are away.  It is great to know the times for everything (snack, bath, meals, bed) as well as little notes like favorite cups/plates or books that will help make meal or bedtime more smooth.  It’s great to have it on a list because you can refer back to it throughout your time there rather than having to rack your brain for what the parent said as they were trying to leave the house.
  • How stuff works. Stuff that is second nature to you might be the first time that your babysitter has seen this particular model.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit this one, but dropping the sides of some cribs is difficult.  They all have their own special tricks and when you have a sleeping (or nearly asleep child in your arms) its not the best time to figure out how to drop the side of the crib.  While some sitters might not have a problem with this, I’m quite short and can’t really reach over the side of the crib.  I’m also sure that i’m not the only one who has struggled with a baby gate that’s both child and 27 year old proof.  (There was one time I was pretty sure I was going to be stuck upstairs until the parents got home because I could not figure out how to operate the gate–good thing there was an 8 year old to show me how it worked!)  I also have some very fancy friends who have technical entertainment systems and it’s always nice to have a quick tutorial if they are going to be out late and the kids will be in bed early.
  • Pay. This is an awkward one.  I don’t really have a rate as some people ask.  It is even more awkward when they ask you with an open checkbook.  It’s always easier and less awkward when the parent either states what they are able to pay upfront or the price is agreed upon before hand.  I usually just tell the parent to pay me whatever they are comfortable with or able to.
  • Clean or dirty. Is the dishwasher clean or dirty?  I hate parents having to come home to a sinkful of dishes, so it’s nice to know if the dishwasher is clean or dirty.  When I’m in doubt, I just end up hand washing everything.

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