Misadventures in babysitting

Babysitting is a great way to make extra spending money and can be one of the best jobs. However, it can also be one of the most painful experiences, literally.

Marie Lahar


Babysitting is a great way to make extra spending money and can be one of the best jobs. However, it can also be one of the most painful experiences, literally.

Childcare is a common job for college students. The good families have angels for children and understanding parents, but the bad families have raging little monster children.

Of course, the preference is to babysit the good kids but sometimes that option doesn’t roll around.

To make it easier on babysitters, I believe some standards need to be set between babysitters and the parents. If not standards, then at least common courtesy rules from parents who hire babysitters.

Nighttime or early morning babysitting is preferred. Having random chunks of time such as 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. cut from the day is tough. We also have things we need to do.

Sometimes when that time frame is all parents can do, then don’t cut their TV or video game hours. Save that for when the babysitter arrives. It makes our job a billion times easier.

If the child is grounded and isn’t allowed TV or video games, tell them if they are super, super good for the babysitter the babysitter has the right to let them watch TV or have a piece of candy.

In the end the child knows they are still grounded, but they still have incentive to be good.

If for some reason you need to cancel, giving at least a two-day warning would be nice. Sometimes getting babysitting money might literally be our only source of income, and we might be able to fill that slotted time frame with another family.

Another courtesy is to offer food. As a babysitter it is uncomfortable to feel hungry but never to have gotten an okay to eat. It may seem like common sense, but it’s an uncomfortable situation and to avoid it all together it’s best just to offer.

Often times asking, “What do you think is an acceptable amount?” when it comes to paying also can make the babysitter feel uncomfortable. Times have changed; the days when you could pay a babysitter $2 per hour are over. Basically babysitters don’t want to seem like they are charging too much.

Currently, a decent pay rate is $8 per hour. That price is often hard to find, usually it’s $10-$12 per hour. Obviously, situations vary and in which case babysitters often understand, so set your own price. That’s fine.

A “problem” that occurs for babysitters is sometimes difficult for them to share. Actions that reflect badly on them include a child sneaking behind their backs to eat a piece of candy or a child throwing a toy at them. It’s embarrassing to admit something went wrong or even the worry the parent will blame them for the child doing something wrong.

The easiest way to get over this hurdle is to state in the beginning before parents even leave that they know their children aren’t perfect—hard to admit, I know—and that if something goes wrong please inform you. We can respect that.

Another common problem is when children can’t accept anything other than the way their parents do it. The most annoying sentence is “That’s not the way mommy does it.” Tell your children it’s alright that the babysitter does something differently usually children pick up on accepting differences when a parent mentions it.

Above all else, know babysitters understand or are learning just as parents are. Ask us if something went wrong; tell us your kids love us. We grow with experience too.



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Misadventures in babysitting

by Marie Lahar time to read: 2 min