Our oldest son has recently started baby-sitting for our neighbor’s grandson. Although he’s been helping with his siblings for a while now, watching another child is a new adventure. As any mother should, I gave him much unsolicited advice before he began. I gave him all the inside scoops… you know, from someone who has paid much money through the years to great and not so great sitters. Here are some thoughts for childcare workers and those who have entered the babysitting world.
Here’s my advice to my son…
1- Safety, safety, safety! My Dad was obsessive about these words. He would never let us leave the house without repeating it over and over. At the end of the day… or night… nothing matters more to a parent than a child’s safety. A great sitter will be sure he/she knows about major illnesses, diseases, allergies and such. Don’t be afraid to ask each time you sit. I promise you, the mom/dad won’t feel that you’ve imposed on them by asking about safety issues! I try to remind my sitters/child care workers about girl3’s peanut allergy each time I leave her. Boy2 has asthma but he’s pretty capable about managing himself… so I don’t worry as much about him. A word to the wise sitter: don’t act cocky… reassure the parents that you will care for special needs and that you will call if there is an issue that you can’t manage. Be sure you know how to use emergency medicine for children who need it. The parent should always inform the sitter, but if you’re aware of a potential issue, read up on it. Our sitters need to know how to use an Epi-pen, give Benedryl, administer a breathing treatment and give some prescription medicines on an as needed basis. As a mom, I am constantly making safety decisions… bath tub, toilets, stairs, drawers that the child can open, sibling fights, small toys… it is virtually never ending… you can’t be too careful. Parents will thank you and greatly appreciate your cautiousness! Be sure you have easy access to a phone. We don’t have a land line anymore so someone bringing a cell phone is nearly a must.
2- Media- So we are unashamedly super-conservative parents when it comes to media. Once we had a sitter who was watching something on TV our children weren’t allowed to watch. The children told the sitter. She decided to continue watching the show. This was a BAD call. 🙂 Remember that the rules you set for yourself are set aside for the time you’re watching someone’s child(ren). They are the parent, they make the call. A cousin of the TV is the phone. Sure, take your calls… but be done with it quickly. As a mom of 6 (2 little girls included) I have little to no time to talk on the phone. I do not imagine you should have time to talk on the phone and besides, I’m not paying you to chat. Once the kids are asleep… then there’s more flexibility.
3- Leave it better than when you found it. This in no way overshadows safety but I can assure you that if I come home to a house at least as clean as when I left my heart will leap in delight. I once had 2 young girls watch the children. I came home, the children were happy and well cared for, dishes washed (including the ones I left), the toys were neatened, the TV turned down low and I could still see vacuum marks on the carpets. AHHHH!!! Not only did I pay them a little extra, I called them again. It’s just smart 🙂
4- Have fun but remember who the adult is! My most favorite sitters have balanced fun with discipline. Play games, laugh, read and watch TV together, but don’t let my kids run like banshees… haha! When I get home and the kids are bouncing off the ceiling it does not make my heart rejoice. Find out what discipline techniques you are allowed to implement. Never spank a child unless you’ve been given consent to do so. I’m typing and thinking… I’m not sure we have given anyone permission to spank our children except for one sitter who was watching our children over the weekend and we knew she wouldn’t do so unless she absolutley had to.
5- Be courteous- I’ve said it before, but common courtesy is not so common anymore. Act gentlemanly and lady-like to the family… it shows the parents that you know how to honor and obey. This will benefit their children.
For you moms and dads… remember to pay your sitter very fairly. They are caring for your most precious possession… treat them that way. If I find a good sitter, I want to keep him/her and being above fair is a great way to start!
Hope this gives you some insight into the mind of a mom….