I started babysitting when I was quite young, popping next door to watch a few kids around my neighbourhood while their parents went on date nights. It was a good gig that helped pay for my new shopping addiction, but it wasn’t always easy.
Year after year I learned the hard way how to keep tiny humans happy, usually after making a big mistake and calling my mum for advice. But one thing that was abundantly clear from the very beginning was that I would never, under any circumstance, raise my concerns or questions with the parents.
That sentiment seems to be consistent among all young babysitters, so when I became a parent myself and started hiring sitters to watch my kids, I decided I was going to be different. I was going to be the perfect employer.
“I’m a cool parent with enough experience to understand exactly what they need from me”, I said to my partner. “They’ll text if they don’t know what to do, right?”
Mums confess. The things I do after the kids got to bed:
Most babysitters are quite young, so it’s important that parents take the lead on direct communication. But how can you know exactly what they’re thinking if the sitters don’t feel comfortable speaking up?
I decided to go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask a dozen babysitters who have all watched kids in the last 30 days exactly what they were thinking when “sitting on” your precious cargo. And here’s what they wish you knew:
1. “I wish they would feed me, too.”
Oftentimes parents put a lot of effort into preparing food for their kids, but they completely forget about the sitter. As most parents don’t expect a babysitter to cook and watch their kids at the same time, it makes sense to have a pre-made meal in the fridge. But what is a sitter supposed to do?
“I usually watch these kids at night and I’m supposed to feed them dinner. The parents have never talked to me about what I can eat. I know it’s probably fine for me to order delivery after the kids are sleeping, but I get nervous about the delivery guy knocking on the door loudly. I just don’t eat and wait until I get home. I kind of wish they left me a plate or ordered me pizza and had it waiting when I arrived.” – Olivia, 20
“I bring my own food to their house, but I hide it in the bottom of my bag because I’m worried they will realise they never talked about food with me and feel bad.” – Brittany, 24
2. “I don’t feel comfortable punishing your kids.”
Most parents do a pretty good job of explaining the ‘house rules’ before they leave, but they often forget that these sitters aren’t parents themselves.
“Last time I babysat, I was told that the kids weren’t allowed to watch TV. If they turned it on I was supposed to say no and turn it off. If they didn’t listen to me, I could take away dessert. The kids didn’t listen to me and then cried for so long when I wouldn’t give them chocolate that I had no choice but to give it to them. I don’t know, I’m not their mum. They don’t listen to me in the same way.” – Sophie, 22