Tuesday Talk

Hey there Tuesday.

Last month, I linked up with Ashley and Erika who host Tuesday Talk on the third Tuesday of every month, and it was so much fun, that I decided to do it again.

For this link up, you are supposed to chat about anything and everything.  Well, in January, our topic was…

…about whether I should keep my home phone or not (and just rely on my iPhone) and I was OVERWHELMED with the response!  Because all of my friends and family have ditched their landlines and solely rely on their cell phones, I just assumed you would all tell me to do the same…but you didn’t!!  The masses weighed in on the conversation and presented a very convincing argument for keeping that darn landline.  Annnnd…one of the most common reasons you ladies said to keep it was in case of an emergency if a sitter was at my house.  And that my friends, leads me to today’s topic.  After all of those babysitter comments, it made me realize that I’m probably not prepared at all for sitters in my house, so I thought today, we could “chat” about that.

A couple of things first:

Did you know that I worked my way through high school and college as a babysitter?

This is me with Ethan and Ellie Kate 🙂 .  I babysat them for 8 years.  In fact, one of the reasons, I picked the university I did was because it was closer to them…so I could keep my job and go to college.

Here we are a Disney World 🙂 .  I was blessed to get to travel with them too.  I’m in college here.

And of course, they were my flower girl and ring bearer when we got married.

Last week, we celebrated Ellie’s 18th birthday!  What in the world?!  Ethan is 21 and Ellie is 18…and therefore, I am incredibly old.

So, I know how to be a babysitter…but after reading your comments, I’m afraid I don’t know how to have a babysitter in my house.

We don’t use sitters often, so when we do, I feel like I’m always forgetting something when I leave her there with them.  Even if we’re using a sitter we’ve used before, it’s probably been a while since we’ve used her, so it’s kind of like starting over.  Every time we pull out of the driveway, I always think to myself, did I tell her everything?  Did I make sure everything was available for her?  Did I forget something?  My head starts spinning and it’s pretty much at that moment that I start thinking “geez, it would be easier to stay home than have to remember everything I’m supposed to tell her”.

So, that is what I want to “chat” about today.  What are some things you always do when you leave your kids with a sitter?  What are your best tips?  Best ideas?  Anything and everything sitter related…I’m begging you to share today with the group.  Just like with the home phone stuff last week, I’m sure you will bring a ton of clarity and information to the subject.

Comment please!


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  • Erika Slaughter February 21, 2017 at 4:44 am

    That last graphic is too funny!!! This doesn’t always work out but my best tip is to find someone you love and use them every time (if possible). They begin to know your family and it makes everything so much easier (not that it’s a stroke of genius by any means but I feel so much better leaving knowing the babysitter knows what to do). I can’t wait to read all the comments!

  • Megan February 21, 2017 at 4:57 am

    I don’t want to reinvent the wheel each time so I have a list of instructions (bedtimes , food, etc), helpful tips, phone numbers, and how to use the tv/wifi password that I can quickly print out and leave for the sitter. Then I know I’ve never forgotten to tell them something important!


  • Elizabeth Feldpausch February 21, 2017 at 5:01 am

    My baby is still a baby (Almost 1 ?) but we have a little booklet from the pediatrician that answers ANY medical question you could have and inside of that book I taped a piece of paper with my phone number, my husband’s, my parent’s and my brother’s (he lives across the street)

    I also have a standard bedtime/nap time routine written out.

    Having these things ready all the time makes me less antsy when I go to leave?
    I’m not too strict on the schedule (especially when we aren’t home) but babies need their sleep so if the sitter can get her down – bonus points!

  • ELizabeth February 21, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Lots and lots of instructions every time – it helps the babysitter out!

  • Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog February 21, 2017 at 5:11 am

    I’ve never been babysat and I’ve never been a babysitter in my life! It’s not a popular thing where I live.

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Heather Bramlett February 21, 2017 at 5:26 am

    What a great topic. We very rarely use a sitter. So I can’t wait to read all the comments.

  • Jennifer Jackson February 21, 2017 at 5:36 am

    I’m a high school teacher so one of the things that I’ve learned through conversations is that they have no idea what to do with the kids…it’s almost like they think they should just play in their rooms while the babysitter gets to watch tv or something. My suggestion-so that having a babysitter is a fun experience that kids don’t dread is to have a box of activities that only comes out when there is a babysitter. The box should include fun activities that would be easy for the babysitter to do with your kids: board games, recipe and ingredients for play dough, slime, etc…crafts, scavenger hunts the babysitter can create. I’ve had so many students say that kids cry or complain about being bored and I just remember loving it when I had a babysitter growing up. Kids are so different these days and imaginations are lacking sometimes so this is a fool proof, teacher approved technique for making sure the babysitter knows what to do, is engaging with the kids, and the kids think of having a babysitter as an exciting thing! I also think you can get creative with meals for a sitter: build your own pizza, ice cream sundaes, or a food to go along with a movie the kids want to watch. I know it makes more work for parents but I think it’s worth it!

    • Ashley February 21, 2017 at 6:29 am

      Yes! We do something similar. We don’t have a box but I leave activities or a new movie and their favorite foods for dinner. We have also done make your own pizza.
      Also what Erika said, we have been using the same sitter for 4 years! She’s older now and I even let her take the kids places during the day that are fun (museum, art classes, etc). The more fun they have the better I feel.

    • Kelly February 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      I would just like to add to this comment a little bit. When I was a child, my mother would take us to the grocery store and let us pick out a frozen dinner to have when the babysitter was there. We never got these at any other time. So it was easy for the babysitter and we were always super excited about it. I also second the box of activities. As the mom of two teenage girls who babysit, I usually send activities or special books for my girls to read the kids. It is so much easier for them when they have something that they know they can do with the kids.

    • Nikki February 24, 2017 at 10:30 am

      That’s a great suggestion. My 9th grader babysits and often takes toys/books from home with her when she babysits. Same idea as yours just coming and leaving with the sitter.

  • Sheaffer Sims February 21, 2017 at 5:40 am

    I can’t wait for you to go through everybody’s tips and create a neat and tidy list for all of us! 🙂 And I totally lol’d at the graphic!

  • Danielle McDermott February 21, 2017 at 5:41 am

    So I don’t usually comment but I have been babysitting for about 14 years so I have LOTS of experience. To be a good house to sit in:
    1) is a first and foremost: ALWAYS offer the sitter something to eat otherwise they will feel as though they are not welcome to eat, even if you think it goes without saying
    2) tell the sitter about your routine and they will do their best to uphold it. I have no problem putting kids down one at a time at their usual bedtime.
    3) have the sitter come at a time when there is only about 5/10 mins for you to give last minute instructions especially if one or any of your kids will cry knowing your leaving. It makes the transition better for everyone
    4) within reason, give the sitter the option to make the call especially since you have big kids. For example, don’t tell the 7/8 year old they can stay up until you get home on the off chance you will be late (makes for a long night for the sitter) tell the sitter if you’re not back by 8/9/9:30 whatever their bed time typically is that the kids can go to bed
    5) if you’re between two times for your home time always pick the later one. I get frustrated if I’m told one time and am there an extra hour and a half.
    6) pick an organized sitter. They will not mess up your routine
    7) your kids are your best references. Go with someone they like!

  • Megan February 21, 2017 at 5:46 am

    I don’t have kids but I am a teacher. Leaving your kids with a babysitter is similar to leaving my students with a substitute. Here’s how I tackle it:

    1. Long before you leave create a babysitting binder. Include house rules, where is your fire safe spot outside, emergency numbers, medical info, important numbers, etc.

    The idea is to pull that bad boy out on a dime.

    2. Leave day/night specific directions the day of. This way you only have to focus on who needs help with HW, who’s nose is stuffy, what’s for dinner, etc.

    3. Leave a note with what info you want from the sitter so you don’t have to have a long conversation at the end of the night. What time did the littlest go down? Did anyone go to time out? Did they all eat a enough breakfast?

    I’m always overprepated but it reduces my anxiety about leaving a ton! Plus a majority of the work is done ahead of time. Win-win. ?

    • Megan February 21, 2017 at 5:47 am

      Dinner* not breakfast.

  • Beth Miller February 21, 2017 at 5:58 am

    My girls are now four and 7 1/2, so babysitting is much easier! I usually use my college girls that I teach. Having a CPR certified nursing student (or now some of them are RN’s!) makes you feel so much better! I ALWAYS have a meal for them. I usually try to cook something since most of them are away from home and rarely get a “mom cooked” meal. They absolutely love this. All my sitters are fun girls and don’t really need me to direct them in what to do. But I always tell them not to just let them sit in front of the TV the entire time. Luckily my girls come up with lots of things to do that Mommy doesn’t always want to! Getting a babysitter is expensive, and on top of your night out! But my girls beg for their favorites to come over all the time!

  • Kathryn February 21, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Make sure to have your address printed on the note (in case they need to know it quickly in an emergency)… we live in the country so ‘calling a neighbor’ isn’t always the best/fastest way. We also ditched our landline but have a dedicated (always charged) cell phone for them at the house. We have the best babysitters… they always bring a fun bag of new toys/games – they love playing with our kiddos and the house is always picked up. And the best is that my kids beg for them to come back!!

  • Rose February 21, 2017 at 6:12 am

    I’ve been babysitting for the last 15 years and can tell ya what I’ve come to appreciate as a sitter.
    1) totally agree with whoever posted about offering up food to your sitter. Tell them to help themselves, and then make sure that you have something for them to help themselves to 🙂 if I am feeding the kids I’m watching, that means I’m hungry too and a few times I’ve been told to “help myself” when there’s really nothing in the fridge.

    2) don’t feel bad about checking in with your sitter via text. I’m not talking every 20 min or even every hour, but when I get an occasional text from a mom or dad I’m happy to answer that bedtime went smoothly, or whatever it is they’re asking.

    3) don’t say you’re going to be home at 8, if you really aren’t sure how long it will be, and it ends up being more like midnight. As a sitter, I don’t care (usually) how late you’ll be but unless you know for sure it will be that early, overshoot your guess or say something like “we’ll be home BY 11”.

    4) I’m not sure if this is just me, but sometimes a family coming home, especially late at night, can scare the crap out of me if I suddenly hear a noise outside and I’m not sure if it’s the parents or if I’m hearing things 😉 I love when families will text me when they’re on their way home so I at least know that pretty soon I should be seeing them.

    5) last but not least, always always always make sure you have cash or ready or if you’re writing a check that you’ve cleared that with your sitter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to stay 15 extra minutes while a family gets what they owe me together. It’s the end of the night, I’m tired, you’re tired, and after a quick chat about how the night was, I’m ready to go 🙂

    • Lisa February 21, 2017 at 8:04 am

      I totally agree with everything you said especially #4 and I’ve been babysitting for 9 years! Just a thing to add to #3 if you end up in a situation where you will be late just send a text asking if it’s okay if we are going to be “a half hour” late and no ones going to say no. It’s just the nice thing to do ?

  • Sharon February 21, 2017 at 6:14 am

    When my kids were little, I only hired daycare teachers as babysitters. Yes, they were more expensive but I felt comfortable leaving them knowing that they knew what to do plus they knew my kids from daycare.

    • Annak February 21, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Yes! That’s what I have done, also! I used to be a DHS caseworker so I used our case aide because I knew she had background checks and was used to transporting kids, feeding them when necessary, etc. All my babysitters have moved, have full time jobs or kids of their own now. My mom retired and doesn’t mind coming over but I feel like that blurs the line between grandma and caretaker so I try not to do that too much.

  • Sarah February 21, 2017 at 6:15 am

    We usually are only gone about three hours max, so it’s not as stressful. Like you, we usually only have a babysitter twice a year, if that. I’ll leave some snacks and an easy meal to make if it’s during dinner time, show them how to work the TV, and briefly explain the bedtime routine.

    The thing about my kids though…is they are incredibly shy and well-behaved for a sitter. So, they’ll go to bed with her simply saying “Ok, time for bed,” whereas for me, it’s a two-hour process LOL. Ay ay ay!

    -Sarah http://www.thefrugalmillionaireblog.com

  • Val February 21, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Yesss, sometimes it does seem easier to just stay at home 😉
    We let the babysitter come when the kids are all ready for bed. So the babysitter never has to shower or feed the kids. We hardly ask the babysitter during daytime. If we do, it’s for something important and we make sure we’re home before lunch or dinner or naptime.
    So hard to let go… but gives me peace of mind 🙂

  • Lori February 21, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Find a Shay and keep her happy! We quickly figured out that if you couldn’t babysit, we weren’t going. The reasons: our kids couldn’t wait for you to come, you baked with them, colored with them, taught them to write their names and let E take Tarzan naps (underwear only for those of you who don’t know)! Love you bunches!!

    • Mix and Match Mama February 21, 2017 at 6:54 am

      Love you bunches :).

  • Narci February 21, 2017 at 6:20 am

    If I can…I like to make sure everyone has already had baths and is in PJs before the babysitter comes over. Then, the sitter only really has to worry about getting them into bed, and this just makes me feel better too! these tips are all so helpful!

  • Allison February 21, 2017 at 6:22 am

    We have been blessed to live near family in the past but since moving, date nights have become nom-existent. We have our first sitter in NINE years coming this weekend! I am excited to read the tips!

  • Jaylyn Bond February 21, 2017 at 6:27 am

    I’ve been babysitting since I was 11 and have been a full time nanny for the last 5 years so I feel like I’ve got some tips!

    1. Pick someone you instantly trust. And stick with that person. I’ve had multiple mom’s say ‘I trusted you instantly and felt so sure about leaving my kids with you’.
    2. Do not be afraid to ask for references. I always give potential families my references so they know that what I’ve told them is true and to build that trust.
    3. For date nights inform the babysitter about the kids routine, any allergies the kids might have, medications they might need, what they are allowed for bedtime snacks.
    4. Do not be afraid to ask her to tidy up the messes they make. I’ve had so many people say “our last sitter just left the house a disaster, it’s so nice to come home to a tidy house”. I just think it’s common sense to tidy up but don’t be afraid to ask.
    5. Inform the babysitter of the WiFi password, how to work the TV, what snacks she’s allowed to have from the house because once the tidying is done and kids are in bed there’s not much to do if you’re just an occasional babysitter.
    6. If you want your babysitter to come over and just plop your kids in front of the TV until it’s bedtime then pay accordingly but if you want someone who is going to fully engage in fun activities and make the couple hours the kids are with her fun then don’t offer something like $5 an hour especially if you have multiple children the babysitter will feel unappreciated. You get what you pay for.
    7. Write down your contact information for cellphone, work, grandparents, doctors, aunts or uncles incase of emergency. Also write down your home address incase 911 needs to be called and she isn’t sure of your home number.

  • Emily Gayle February 21, 2017 at 6:39 am

    I was a nanny for ten years before starting my career and my advice (after a handful of medical emergencies while babysitting) is to leave a page of info…

    -Home address (there was an emergency one time and I couldn’t find their home address ANYWHERE … this was before cell phones but I also couldn’t find their home phone to call 9-1-1 … scary and awful!)
    -Ages and birthdays of all kids – again, I didn’t have this info when the paramedics showed up
    -Health insurance info
    -Preferred hospital to take your kids to (Is it the children’s hospital or just the closest hospital to your house? Paramedics ask this!)
    -Kids weights — helpful if your sitter needs to give medicine
    -Nearby family or friends names and phone numbers
    And of course,
    -Both you and your hubbys cell numbers just in case!

    We use a laminated sitter emergency contact sheet now at my house so I can easily update it with a Visa-V and leave it right by the landline or on the fridge!

  • Marci February 21, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Definitely a binder. the binder has emergency contact info (us, family, a neighbor, pediatrician) , it has all daily routines written down so no matter what time of day we have a sitter it’s already written out. Our binder has instructions on how to use our remote (my husband is super technical and our universal remote is NOT user friendly) and the wifi info. I put what they can all eat (and tell them what treats they can have after the kiddo goes to bed-I always leave treats). It also suggests “Emma loves to build with the duplos and would be happy reading books all night” so the sitter knows what she’s currently into.

    A family I babysat for about 6 years in jr high/high school also a sealed Manila envelope in their binder that had their will in it, just in case some thing horrible happened while they were out with instructions on who to call (her sister who lived 10 min away) should that happen. I thought this was a great idea, and hopefully it’s so not necessary but I’d rather be prepared.

    That said… we have tried several babysitters and now know that our favorites (and Emma’s favorite) are the ones who bring a big bag of toys, games and projects. We’re lucky and have found the greatest twins who both are fantastic babysitters and typically one of them will be available. Finding a great sitter is the most important part!

  • Tara G. February 21, 2017 at 6:48 am

    I echo the pre-made binder or print out. I realize this isn’t the most pleasant topic, but I always have the family members to contact first in the case of injury to/death of us while we are gone. Also, when we go on overnights, I always leave a notarized medical power of attorney. We also have them made to give our parents that are valid for a year – they get an original to file & we keep one in our binder here. {For military, this is a free service in the JAG office.}

  • Cindy Rabe February 21, 2017 at 6:50 am

    We are past the bottles, diapers, special instruction stage so I just have a pizza delivered and say have fun! I want them to have fun so they don’t mind that we are leaving. If it is a school night I say they have to go to bed but if not I tell her that as long as they are happy (my 3 year old) then they can stay up.

  • Jennie February 21, 2017 at 6:50 am

    We are lucky because our babysitter lives two houses down. She knows all of the neighbors and usually her parents are home.
    My biggest tip is to get the kids ready to have a babysitter. I remind them of the rules and help them find something fun to do with the sitter. Usually it is a game that I don’t love to play… but I am surprised at the fun stuff the kids come up with.

  • Elizabeth February 21, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I work full time and have a nanny so we usually use her to baby sit. But we have a list of emergency contacts, the kids pediatricians, dentists, their basic weights, medical history taped up inside a kitchen cabinet. When we do have a new sitter I have a few activities available. (Art projects, movie and popcorn, etc) plus food planned as needed. Then I usually jot down a quick scheduled for bedtime and call it a day!.

  • Valerie February 21, 2017 at 6:58 am

    Have a running list of any phone numbers you can think of…better to be over-prepared than under. If your kids struggle with going to bed on time, have then write down what time they will get in their bed and sign it. I had a family do this, and it worked wonders. If your kids don’t know how the tv system works, explain it to the babysitter beforehand. Nothing more frustrating than having a kid need to watch his tv show to go to bed, but you have no idea how to operate it. I always appreciate when families make sure I have the wifi password for after the kids go to bed and make sure I know that I’m allowed to get stuff from the pantry especially if the kids have already had dinner.

  • Leah Garry February 21, 2017 at 7:00 am

    We always order pizza! Make it as easy on the babysitter as possible so she can enjoy her time playing with our kids. I don’t want her fretting about dinner. And who doesn’t love pizza anyway?! 🙂

  • Erin February 21, 2017 at 7:02 am

    You’re waiting to be called for Crystal Palace meal in the dinner picture. Can you tell I go to Walt Disney World way to often?

  • Abbey February 21, 2017 at 7:04 am

    I use a college girl for my kids (3 & 5) and have used her since th youngest was born. Since we don’t have a home phone, I’ve talked with her about my expectations for being able to get ahold of her if needed, but not spending time on her phone when the kids are up. (i.e. Turn your ringer on, keep your phone in your pocket, etc.)

    I also always leave a set of keys to whatever car we leave home, with car seats in it. I haven’t actually ever had an instance where she needed to load the kids up in an emergency, but it gives me peace of mind to know, that if she did, she could safely buckle them into car seats.

    We learned the hard way that college kids aren’t always intuitive when it come to kids, but they are quick learners and eager to please – so detailed instructions were very helpful. Now, after 3 years, she’s a part of our family and very little instruction is needed.

  • Lindsay Jorgenson February 21, 2017 at 7:23 am

    So I have lots of experience with babysitters because we don’t live by family and here are just some of my tips:
    1. I keep an 8 1/2″ x 11″ spreadsheet on the fridge with each of the kids “general” eat/sleep schedules, my kids are 4 and almost 2. It also has neighbors names and numbers, friends in the area name and numbers, pediatrician, local hospital, etc. it’s just a quick cheat sheet in case I’m in a hurry and forget something and it shows the whole day so no matter when we leave them it’s there.
    2. I agree make sure to tell the sitter to help themselves to whatever food you have I’m sure they are hungry too.
    3. I always do just a quick run through of each of the kids schedules for the night and I usually tell her no TV. I’m paying her to play with them they can watch TV another time.
    4. Since we have no family I try to get the sitter I want based on the night, so if it’s a quick dinner or a movie than my high school girls are just fine. If we are going into the city or it’s a late night, after 11, I try to get my age 20+ girls because I know they drive and they don’t have to worry about a curfew.

    Love all the tips!

  • Olivia Easterling February 21, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I have been babysitting for the same family almost 2 years and absolutely love it! I think finding a sitter that your children love and trying to stick with them is a huge benefit for all! It warms my heart to park my car in front of the house (still a few minutes early so I’m planning on just sitting in my car until it’s time) and they swing open the door and run to my door side! I just graduated with my Elementary Ed. degree and have a huge passion for children so as long as I know basic they are allowed to/not allowed to instructions for the kiddos I am babysitting, the entertaining and fun is just natural so I think some babysitters might need the in-depth instructions every time, but I would prefer just the basics, takes a lot of pressure off if I know the parents trust me and aren’t overly worried! Lastly, I like to clean any dishes and pick up all rooms/toys before the parents arrive back home so it has thrown me off a few times when parents arrive sooner than they say without warning because then I feel like it makes me look irresponsible when I had all intentions of making the house look great before their arrival! So if you are going to arrive sooner than expected a text is much appreciated from your sitter! Best of luck!! Can’t wait to read all the tips from parents to help make me a better sitter and give me some ideas!

  • Caroline February 21, 2017 at 7:27 am

    We also don’t get sitters a lot since my parents are local but I try not to leave an overwhelming list. My kids are old enough to know the rules (7 and 3.5) and I try to use the same 2-3 babysitters. We try to leave a little later (between 6-7) so that they really only have 2 hours at most to fill while the kids are awake. Also all our babysitters put our kids to bed. Makes life so much easier. All our girls are in college so they love the quiet house for studying and bring all their books to get work done. I leave tv instructions, dinner– ALWAYS leave food for the sitter too! We always come home to no TV on and the girls sitting at the table doing homework. Our kids are pretty used to chilling out after dinner and before bed so the routine isn’t too difficult. If we happen to be gone during the afternoon I try to leave the important rules of what they can’t do– so everything else is fair game.

  • Shelley February 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I wrote our directions on how to use the TV/DVD/ how to rent a movie, etc. and framed it next to the tv so it’s always there for anyone who needs it.

  • Alicia February 21, 2017 at 8:02 am

    My daughter just turned one ? and we have not left her with anyone other than our parents. I’m extremely paranoid and anxious about leaving her with anyone (new Mom syndrome?!) but you hear and see too many horror stories and while I think it’s amazing some parents have the best sitters and daycare providers, my town just doesn’t have that. Or maybe it’s because I don’t trust anyone enough? I have been trying to find someone, however, and when and if I do I am sure I will have the entire layout of my home, an encyclopedia of my daughter’s likes/dislikes and how to’s, and put a babycam in all corners of my house. Okay, just kidding…a little. ?

  • Marcy February 21, 2017 at 8:04 am

    If you are not blessed with a teenager within your circle of friends or neighborhood as we were, due to moving to a new city. We found our sitters through the Children’s Ministry at our new church. They did backgrounds on anyone over 18, references on those over 16 and had plenty of experience keeping young ones entertained. I absolutely agree about having payment ready at the end of the night and in an age of ATM and Apple Pay, I don’t always have cash on hand, so I get he amount ahead of time and leave it in an envelope in our kitchen drawer. That way it doesn’t accidentally get spent on tips or misc on date night.

  • heidi February 21, 2017 at 8:04 am

    I would say leave an emergency contact list.
    And a list of what time each kids goes to bed and their routine.
    My daughter is 13 and has started to baby sit..one thing I make sure she does is clean up after them. If they have popcorn and spill it run the vaccum, wash the dishes. If the kids arec in bed when you get there, do something nice and get off your phone! .. the amount of time I came home to a messy house and a baby sitter either fast asleep ( by 9:30) or on their phones whilst the( house was made a mess whilst I was gone) was crazy to me. So a list of what you need. Once for find a sitter you love.. treat them like gold lol

  • Whitney Pegram February 21, 2017 at 8:12 am

    That last graphic … bahahah!! We’ve never used a babysitter! Crazy, right?! We live so close to both sets of parents so one of them always offers! I don’t know what I’ll do if one of them says that can’t one day! LOL And I, like you, went through high school & college babysitting!

  • Ashley P February 21, 2017 at 8:14 am

    I am a nanny and I remember the first time I was left alone with the kids (18 months and 4 at the time) and I was a little overwhelmed. I had the neighbors phone numbers, the parent’s cell phone numbers and THAT WAS IT. After they left I was like wait!!! Allergies? What do they eat? HELP! I have been with them for over a year, so I have learned all these things over time. But if your sitter is only there once in a blue moon, I am sure she doesn’t remember everything! You could try printing out direction sheets and keep them in sheet protectors in a binder of some kind, so every time the sitter is over, you are ready to go! It could include:
    -Emergency information (local police, fire dept., hospital etc)
    -Health info on each kiddo
    -Food/drink each kiddo likes/dislikes
    -Favorite movies/shows/games
    -Bedtime routine
    -Any quirky info you think might be useful
    Now that I realize how helpful this would have been as a nanny, I definitely plan on making one in the future when I’m a Mom 🙂

  • Kerrie February 21, 2017 at 8:17 am

    This isn’t always applicable, but any time we use a sitter who isn’t family we almost always leave after the baby is asleep and our older son who is pretty independent really just needs to be entertained until he is ready to sleep. Our daughter is an early sleeper (6:30 or 7) so it is not big deal for us to put her to bed and then head out for a date night. I enjoy myself so much better when I know she is sleeping and our son is playing and getting some one on one attention. If we need a babysitter during the day we stick with family. I just can’t enjoy myself if I’m worried about my babies. And we haven’t found a babysitter whom we trust to watch the kids all day and prepare meals and do naps. It is a lot to put on a teenager. But I do hope one day to find one because that would mean date nights would happen a whole lot more often!

  • ColleenB.~Texas February 21, 2017 at 8:40 am

    When our girls where younger we very seldom had a baby sitter but when we did I Always made sure a list of emergency numbers where posted on the refrigerator or by he phone along with number of nearest family member or neighbor just in case something came up and also along with that the Drs. name and phone number. Also list on where YOU can be reached at when going out; name of restaurant and phone number or other.
    Also make a list of things that your children may be allergic to

  • Alice H February 21, 2017 at 8:41 am

    I have not had to use a babysitter for my now 7 year old thanks to having a 17 year old daughter and 16 year old son way before his time. So they help me with him if I need to run an errand or something. Or he has always stayed with the grandparents.

    But my 17 year old daughter babysits friends of ours kids. Anyway, she likes knowing where she can find contact information in case of an emergency. She likes knowing what is off limits (rooms, food, drinks, toys, movies, etc).
    She likes to know the kids routines. Does she need to give them a bath? Do they have a certain bedtime? Are they allowed to stay up a little later?
    She likes to be outside with them. She likes to know if there is a park within walking distance that she can take them to.
    She likes to feel comfortable that you are okay with her watching a movie or reading a book or having a snack once she gets the kids to bed.

    I am going to be so sad when my built-in babysitters leave me for college 🙁

  • MelanieL February 21, 2017 at 8:53 am

    There is nothing like a wonderful HS or college age babysitter that the kids love and we trust! We have two that we love and like your previous employer said about you…if they aren’t available, we don’t go (if it’s just a date night). We always have food and drink available and let them know they can help themselves, sometime we rent a new movie or make a Netflix suggestion for something the kids would like to watch. We also always make sure we tell them which neighbors are close by because that will be the first adult they could snag should something happen and they need to wait outside or something. Also…always have their money ready, you want to be as reliable as they are!

  • Jenny February 21, 2017 at 8:59 am

    If you’re shopping around for babysitters, it may be a good idea to invite the sitter over for dinner and see how she interacts with your kids while you’re still home. That way you’ll feel confident and comfortable leaving your kids with that sitter next time you decide to go out.

    I would have your kids eat an early dinner while you’re still home (I would worry about someone choking) and allow them to have dessert like ice cream or a bedtime snack while the sitter is there.

  • Angela Ellingson February 21, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Love the idea of having the same babysitter for years and years. So great for everyone. I never know how much to pay. It gets really unaffordable for us quickly.

  • Elizabeth Valdez February 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I babysat my way through HS & college too! I am very close with the family I babysat for and from the beginning they always made me feel at home. Routine was key for them! If I was babysitting in the evening, I would usually come in during dinner and I would relieve the mom so she could finish up getting ready. We would do their normal everyday routine after dinner too. Play, watch a movie, and then get ready for bed. As the kids grew older, I would take them out for fun activities, help with HW, etc. I basically did what the kids parents would do with them so they didn’t feel like their routine was being interrupted. I loved babysitting!!! Hope this helps! XOXO

  • Erin February 21, 2017 at 9:44 am

    I think everyone’s covered the basic instructions really well. I’ll just say this. I pay my babysitters well enough that it’s hard for them to turn me down when I ask!

  • Kelly Henderson February 21, 2017 at 9:47 am

    When our youngest was a toddler, he had major separation anxiety even with grandparents. We planned to leave during the kids dinner. My husband would pick up Chick-fil-a or a pizza, we always ask the sitter what she would like! This seems to ease the stress of us leaving, he would even tell us bye as we walked out. As long as he was at the table, he was fine. If he was playing and we said bye, he would melt down. He’s 10 now and this is not longer an issue! Whew. We make sure the sitter knows where the Junk food is in the house, it wasn’t accessible to little hands but believe me it is there! When the kids were younger, we made sure the sitter knew their bedtimes but always allowed her to make the call within reason. We didn’t want a 7 year old to be up at midnight but if she feel asleep watching TV with the sitter, it wasn’t a big deal. Our kids are big kids now and as long as the teenager is home, we don’t use sitters anymore.

  • Sonia Limon February 21, 2017 at 9:48 am

    As the parents of a teen baby sitter I have learned a few things along the way that make me proud of my girl and grateful I’m too old to babysit in this day ad age. Apparently things have gotten much more complicated in the world since I was a sitter in the early 90’s….so my daughter (before she decided this would be her “job”) took it upon herself to register for classes at the local fire department to prepare “in case of an emergency” plans…as well as become CPR certified…..She likes to babysit for people she knows (from church or takewondo school)personally and or interview the parents if they are referred…she asks questions and keeps a binder about allergies, bedtimes, pet peeves, tv times (allowable viewing/ and time frames), medical contacts, emergency contacts, and fun things about the kids like: favorite colors, games, ages, favorite subject in school, favorite food, and permissions on certain crafts.
    She packs a baby sitter box on her “jobs” and it contains crazy things like ingredients for making slime, broken colors to make rainbow color molds, baking stuff and sprinkles to make cupcakes, coloring sheets, flash cards, and a game board, or something fun like pie face….she picks her box treasures based on the amount of time she will be there and or the answers (likes and dislikes) of each child/parent. She tells me that the best part is learning what the kids like and do not like and focusing on making memories with them instead of taking it on as a job…t.hat way its fun for everyone and she can leave happy ad ready to come back instead of tired and distant to the kids….kinda understand why kids charge so much now a days for babysitting…..it’s a lot more work than I remember!

  • Tricia February 21, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I have transitioned from being a babysitter to a house/pet sitter. And I could not love it anymore! My tip is not really a tip…but a “food for thought.” I have babysat for people who have gorgeous homes, drive expensive cars, and complain about paying for a sitter. A babysitter is caring for the most important person and/or people in your life. My advice is…pay accordingly. Babysitting is not always easy, and I strongly believe, “What you appreciate, appreciates.” Since I started house/pet sitting, my clients always go the extra mile to make my stay enjoyable. On top of paying me, they have: left bottles of wine, set out slippers/robe/headband for a jacuzzi bath, left Starbucks gift cards, asked me what kind of food I liked and stocked the fridge, etc. Although I don’t expect any of this, it’s such a kind gesture. I feel appreciated and I’m happy to go above and beyond any normal housesitting duties, if they arise.

  • Melissa Gartner February 21, 2017 at 10:17 am

    This is coming from a longtime sitter, not a parent. I would definitely make sure you have instructions on how to use the tv, baby monitor, etc. Also, if your friends have a sitter they love (and they are not going out at the same time), maybe try that person. If you are using a new person, inviting them over for an hour on a day before they are sitting may be a good idea. This lets them meet/ get to know the kids and you can go over some basics. Finally, I would tell your older two to help and let the baby sitter know they can be a good resource. I have been babysitting the same family for 6 years, and if I forget where something is or something like that, I often ask the 9 year old.

  • Lauren February 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

    I’m a college babysitter and I have a few tips myself!
    – Always offer food! the first time I came over they told me I was welcome to eat what’re I wanted. That makes me feel more comfortable if I get hungry.
    – have set bedtimes, and make sure the kids are good at going to bed. If not, don’t have them put the kids to bed. That can be stressful! Also tell the babysitter their typical routine so they know how to settle down the kids.
    -use the same sitter! I have been babysittting the same family for a while and I love going over there, and the kids love to see me! It makes everything easier.
    -since you are paying them, let them know what they can do when the kids go to sleep. That way the sitter isn’t bored. Sometimes I vacuum, steam the floors, fold laundry, clean the kitchen, make beds. Whatever I can do.
    -if you are going to be late, text them. That way the sitter isn’t worried or waiting too long.
    -lastly, get to know your sitter! Follow each other on social media, chat with them for a while, attend their school events. It will make babysitting a more natural and fun experience!

  • Leah February 21, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I babysit on the side on top of my full time job because it’s easy money to make, and one family I had left me a binder. It had all their information (their cells, family numbers, neighbors, etc) it hAd copies of her health insurance cards, it had what kind of foods does she eat, her so schedule, her favorite shows to watch, and it included their wifi information!!! That was probably the best thing ever! But as babysitter we just figure it out and look around the kitchen if we can’t find what we need to make the meal or if they have an older kid ask them for help with the younger kids or if they are asking a question you aren’t sure if they are trying to trick you and get away with something.

  • Marion February 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I agree with the Mom of the kids you babysat for growing up. We had to the same set up but started her earlier as a mothers helper. I had 4 kids in 5 years and it was easier and cheaper than preschool to hire a mothers helper 2-3 days a week. She entertained the kids while I cooked and foldedlaundry and caught up on work and some time took a nap 🙂 Our sitter started when she was 11 years old and she still babysits for us now 12 years later. I was so happy when she told me where she was going to college close by. Since she basically grew up here with our kids she knows where everything is, knows our rules and schedule. Best thing ever! So my tip is if your children are still young hire a middle school girl to help you out during the day and train her while you are around. We started leaving her with kids when she was around 14 for 2ish hours if we were close by. She now house sits and watches our kids overnight. Could not live without her. Thankful she just decided to get a master so will be around 2 more years!

  • Alicia February 21, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I have never hired a babysitter (childless!) but I have done quite a bit of babysitting in my day (over 30 families). The best thing a parent can do for a sitter is to give a timeline for the kids- meals, bath, bed time (including bed time routines). It is also super helpful to maybe leave a small activity for the babysitter to do with the kids- craft projects and board games are great. It helps so the babysitter can help facilitate something fun to do with the kids.

    If the sitter knows the timeline for the night and has ways to make the night fun for the kids then you should be all set!

    Of course a cheat sheet of emergency numbers, medical info, etc. give the sitter a sense of security! Just in case something happens.

  • Heather Green February 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I worked as a nany for many years and now I am expecting my first child! This was very helpful to add to the list of things I liked as a nanny/ babysitter.
    1.) Have something there for the sitter to eat or leave money to order pizza. Especially if you have a small baby or small schildren that they do not have to fix dinner for. It can be a long night if you have nothing in the fridge!
    2.) Give her a tour of the house and lay all the essentials out (bath towels, pj’s, bedtime things)
    3.) Write down and tell her bedtime routine
    4.) Let her know what is allowed and not allowed. Let her know if it is ok to take the baby or kids on a walk in the neighborhood or to a neighborhood park. Also lay out or show the sitter what they will need (jackets, blankets, strollers, dog leash etc.) It can be really hard searching around for things and only having a toddler to ask for help!
    5.) Write or lay out approved snacks and dessert options. Kids will tell people anything!
    6.) Write down tv instructions! this always proved to be the most difficult! Turning on some TV’s can be quite the challenge

  • Mari Caroline February 21, 2017 at 11:25 am

    Oh how I love this talk! I have been a nanny for 8+ years and the boys that I watched all throughout college were in my wedding too and still love them to pieces! When I moved to Dallas a couple of years ago I began nannying and even with my full time job now I still love to help my families on the evenings and weekends and even overnights occasionally. Some tips/tricks from a babysitters perspective (some of which echo above) would be:
    1. Don’t hesitate to ask for references, after all, you are trusting this person with your babies! I have even gone to meet some of my families I’ve helped prior to babysitting so that I can interact with the children as well as the parents before an actual night of babysitting.
    2. Some type of document that can be readily edited and printed with instructions/routines and important phone numbers are super helpful! However, don’t stress out if a piece of the puzzle is forgotten — your older kids probably know all about their routine and where stuff is around the house.
    3. TV/Wi-Fi instructions for once kids go down.
    4. Food. If you’re having a babysitter during a typical meal time some time of food is greatly appreciated — I have had everything from a frozen pizza, sandwich items, food picked up prior to my arrival, to an empty pantry.
    5. Blanket. This one sounds so silly but providing a blanket (on the couch or somewhere near by) rather than having someone try to mess with your thermostat is MUCH easier!
    6. Let them know what time you will be home and TRY to stick to that time. If running ahead or behind schedule text them to give them a heads up so that they can plan accordingly!
    7. Don’t stress about having specific activities set up for the babysitter — you’re going out and about with your husband and the last thing you need to worry with is setting up activities. Kids are usually so excited for a new face to play with them that they are up for anything!

    That perfect person to watch your kiddos when you need an extra set of hands is out there and they will love them and take such good care of them! Good luck!

  • Alice February 21, 2017 at 11:30 am

    One thing I always tell our sitters that no one has mentioned yet is not to take photos of my kids or home, or post about them on social media. I don’t post photos of my kids online for privacy, and I like to make that clear to sitters because I know most do. I also don’t want anyone to know when we’re not at home or get information about our home address or security.

  • Karen February 21, 2017 at 11:32 am

    This is such an interesting topic to me! I had a steady babysitting job and/or full time nannying job from 9th grade all the way through graduate school. I have always assumed that hiring/using a babysitter would be so natural to me since I have so much experience! Funny to hear it’s still hard. I always felt total confidence when the parents were sincere about texting them if I needed anything. Of course I didn’t abuse the offer but if there was ever anything I absolutely wanted to make sure was correct (i.e. how much tylonel did you want her to have?) they were only a text away! Also older siblings can be SO helpful. I bet Kensington and Smith would be able to answer most of a babysitter’s questions (where stuff is.routines/etc) 🙂 Good luck!!

  • Amy February 21, 2017 at 11:46 am

    We have a “babysitter sheet” (super official name) hanging on the inside of the cabinet door in the kitchen that has our numbers, neighbors numbers, grandparents numbers, and what our kids are allergic to. That way the sitter has anything number she needs. Its also great for the kids to have as they get older too – in case they need those numbers too!

  • Allison February 21, 2017 at 11:49 am

    We only use a sitter once or twice a year as well and I babysat from the time I was 12-college!

    Maybe I over-simplify things but, here’S what I do.

    Bathe my kids before I go.

    Have them in pj”s or pjs out on their beds. (My kids are 4 and 6)

    Fix a dinner that will make my kids happy and have it ready or have pizza delivered. She is welcome to that or anything in my kitchen. I don’t expect her to cook or try to get my kids to eat a boring dinner. I want it to be a treat for the kids too!

    Have a few things in the “watchlist” that my kids will agree on, pull out a couple of books, show her the playroom and where games are.

    Write down our numbers and our address.

    Charge iPads or have them charging.

    Have cash to pay her.

    Pay my kids $5 each if I get a good report.

    Since we use a sitter so rarely I don’t expect her to try to recreate a normal bedtime. I give them permission to set up a pallet in the floor for the kids and everyone watch a movie at bedtime. They have usually had such a good time they will drift off to sleep.

  • Susan February 21, 2017 at 11:56 am

    I usually try to do as much as I can for my kids before the sitter gets there. We tend to go out later (like 6:30 or 7) so I feed the kids and have them bathed/in pajamas before the sitter gets there (or at least have them in the process of doing this stuff). My biggest advice is to use your older kids as assets!! My oldest is 10 and she can pretty much tell the sitter anything I might have forgotten to tell her. When my kids were younger (my youngest is almost 7 now), I had a sitter notebook that had info about where things were, emergency numbers, how to work the remote, etc. That way, whoever was sitting for us could refer to that if something came up. This is handy because you can use it over and over again and you can modify/add to it as needed.

  • Abbie February 21, 2017 at 11:57 am

    I grew up babysitting. I babysat many families but I also babysat one family for about 13 years, including being their nanny for several summers when I was home from college. Obviously once the sitter has watched your kiddos several times they get the hang of the family, house, etc.. But I would suggest leaving a list of phone numbers for yours, and other family members or friends (that helps reassure the babysitter if an emergency would happen and they can’t reach you, they can reach someone else). Letting them know if there is a neighbor near by they can go to for help also. And leaving directions about the TV/electronics and a general bed time routine, once you make it once, print it out and then you always have it ready to go.
    I think it’s important for parents to use babysitters, it gives the parents a night out, then you are not always relying on other family members to watch the kids (even though its easier and nicer sometimes) .
    I think having fun things planned for the babysitter to do is a great idea! board games, movie nights, we also played cooking channel a lot and would make cookies, brownies, pizza, or anything fun and silly. But I guess it depends on the babysitter and how active they will be with the kids. I loved to do fun projects or activities with the kids. They always had so much fun, plus it made the time go by fast! Once you find a few great babysitters, your kiddos will be excited for them to come over and play!

  • Lindsay @ Lindsay's Sweet World February 21, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Typically when B and I go on a date, the grandparents will watch them, but we had a situation a couple of years ago where neither set of grandparents was available at a time when B and I had something really important going on and that was the time when we realized that we should have someone who we can pay to watch the babies in the event that the grandparents are all busy. Fortunately, we found out that our son’s old daycare teacher (whom we ADORE) babysits, and we now use her a TON! I never have to worry when she’s with them because, duh, she did take care of our son all day every day for months when he was in her class at school, so we know she’s fully capable. Plus, she’s trained in CPR and first aid and a whole bunch of other stuff since she was a teacher. I mean, heck, she’s probably better in an emergency than I would be! Haha.

  • Kathleen February 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    Great advice above. In addition to what others have shared, as a babysitter (pre-cell phones) it was always helpful to know:

    1. where the parents were going to be – name/phone/address of restaurant/theater/friends (and cell phones can die in the middle of a date);
    2. bedtime routines and needs (times, songs, stories, required stuffies/binkies/blankies, etc., light on/off, door ajar/closed, shades pulled down or open) because I want this to go as smoothly as possible for your children – help me!

    One family I babysat for also had a sheet I had to sign before I left (it’s been decades, but I think one parent was a lawyer) which stipulated where I could go in the house, what I could do in the house (I remember I was not allowed to open any built-in cabinets/drawers in the home office), if I could take the children outside the house/yard, if I should answer the landline if it rang, if I could have a friend over, what to do if someone rang the doorbell … it seemed over the top to me at the time, but I can at least understand their concerns a bit more now.

  • Amanda February 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Hahaha…so true that the babysitter costs more than the actual date! We use our neighbor who is more like a sister to the boys and her parents are usually just next door so we have that going for us! When the kids were little though I’d write out a seriously detailed list about their schedule, bedtime routine, what to do if —–, etc. It was a bit ridiculous. 😉

  • Melissa February 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Have a document on your computer with all the info in it, that you can just print each time. (I have a blank line for location that I just fill in.) It has contact info, schedule, and though life is much more lenient with a sitter, a couple of rules that I still want enforced. Now that the kids are older (9, 7, 4) they know where stuff is, so I don’t take time to lay out pjs, clean undies, that sort of thing. But I used to when they were small.

    Also, I have found it’s super helpful to have your sitter be someone who lives close. We are blessed that our sitter is the high school daughter of some good friends in our neighborhood. I like that she lives close because 1. If there’s an emergency her mom could get to our house really fast if needed. And 2. I asked someone else to babysit once. When she came out to her car to head to our house, it wouldn’t start. The battery had died, and no one was home to jump her. She lived too far away from me to drive all the way to get her, bring her back to my house, and still make my appointment at all on time, so I ended up dragging all three kids with me. Ugh. If that situation happened with our neighbor, I could pick her up in two minutes, and be fine.

  • Ashleigh Bielecki February 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I’m not a mama, but I babysat through high school and college. And, we (my brother and I) had babysitters (that were NOT family) “a lot.” By “a lot,” I mean 1-2x/month usually on a weekend night. My parents purposely made an effort to make plans to go out so that we would get used to being with people other than them and — guess what! We never cried. Because we were used to it! We had one main babysitter, with a few other scattered in between when she was unavailable. I think it’s good for kids to be left with people other than mom/dad/family here and there because it’s an easier transition into school and whatnot. My best friend’s kids NEVER have babysitters and they cry anytime there’s is even discussion of her not being around even if they’ll be left with me, grandma, or someone else thy know well — that’s not healthy for them. And mom and dad need to be able to get out without them sometimes! So, of you don’t use sitters often, consider starting — even if it’s just once every 4-6 weeks.

    1. I agree that your kids are the best reference; they’ll be excited to tell you about their time with the babysitter if they had fun.
    2. Don’t expect your babysitter to cook dinner unless it’s basic (grilled cheese, mac and cheese, etc) or they’ll be there all day. And plan to have her/him feed your kids something you know they like; the babysitter doesn’t want to fight the kids to eat dinner. Also, FEED THE SITTER. Have snacks available, at least.
    3. In regard to pay — don’t ask your babysitter what they expect from you. That always put me in an awkward position. Ask your local friends what they pay and go from there. If the babysitter felt she was underpaid, she’ll say “no” that next role you ask if she’s available. Simple as that.
    4. I also agree that you should guesstimate a later time to be home than an earlier time. I always hated being told parents would be home at “8” and have them walk in at 9:30 or something.
    5. Make sure your kids understand that the sitter is in charge while you’re gone. It doesn’t matter if “mom/dad let’s us do this or thats hen they’re home.” Ultimately, the sitter needs to be comfortable with what’s happening. So, if he/she tells them not to do something, end of discussion — answer is no.

    • Emily February 21, 2017 at 3:27 pm

      I’ve been babysitting my entire life and #5 is perfect! I used to babysit a little girl who would ALWAYS say “Well my MOM let’s me do it!” (everything from eating a small treat 15 minutes before bedtime to climbing on top of the refrigerator – no joke). Make sure your kids know that what the babysitter says is final. And let the babysitter know some general rules so she/he feels comfortable being in charge of the kids! It’s so awkward when you really don’t know whether or not a kid is allowed to do something.

  • Kate Ehmke February 21, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    When I am babysitting, I always ask the following five questions:

    1. Are any of the children on medication? If so, when do they take it?
    2. Are you expecting any deliveries or anyone to come by? (This way, I know if the doorbell rings, it might be someone expected/delivery that’s expected. If they say no, I know to be wary if the doorbell rings).
    3. Are there any rooms in the house that are off limits?
    4. Do any of the kiddos have a special “lovey” that they sleep with? (I’ve been caught before with a sweet baby crying about her “lovey” at bedtime, only to find out that it was a stuffed elephant that she had to have to fall asleep!)
    5. Are any of the kids allergic to anything?

    Obviously, I still ask about things like bedtimes, favorite things to do, food to eat, etc. I’ve found though that asking these five questions helps me out TREMENDOUSLY as a sitter! I’m a teacher now, but I still love to sit when I can, and I still ask these five questions first! 🙂

  • Erin February 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    I have yet to find a babysitter in high school or college who isn’t glued to their cell phone. Even if I specifically ask them not to use their cell! They don’t engage/play/create any more….just sort of “monitor” while texting/using social media. Not sure what to do about this besides hiring someone older ?

  • ColleenB.~Texas February 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    One thing a baby sitter should know and that is CPR as well as The Heimlich maneuver

  • Emily Winchester February 21, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    I hardly ever post but I get asked about this topic a lot from my friends…we have 4 boys ( 10,8,2.5 and 3 months) and use sitters a lot. Unfortunately we don’t have family close by and both my husband and I work in medicine ( and LOVE a weekly date night) so we utilize babysitters a lot. I do have one sitter who I sound through our last nanny that I use for a few hours every Tues/Thurs afternoon evening. I am involved outside the home in a couple women’s groups and fundraising boards and this is when our meetings are. My husband is rarely home before 6 so I use her to stay involved with things I love ( besides my kiddos) outside the home. We keep her late Tuesdays and usually grab dinner just us, it’s a nice way to stay connected during the week. Thursday’s my scheduled sitter helps me with my littles. It’s a busy day of activities/late practices. I started this when my 2.5 year old was born and I didn’t want to drag him to the gym for my oldest’ 7pm practice. Plus it gives me time to enjoy my older too at a time where the younger ones demand a lot of attention.

    Above being said, when we travel( we use hotel services a lot for or work trips) have date nights, weddings/events on weekends I let the schedule go( minus the two year olds bedtime) I let them play longer, order pizza, watch a movie so they look at having a babysitter as a fun treat.

    I make sure they have my number and our neighbors but have learned to just trust and let go. It helps with the “what did I forget list” .

    Last point- I have them come 30 minutes before I want to walk out the door. With my scheduled sitter it gives me a chance to curl my hair with new sitters it gives me a chance to chat with her, observe her etc. it’s a nice way to see what she wants from me or us!

    OK- really last point- with 4 kids sometimes our sitter can cost more than our margaritas and queso BUT it keeps our marriage happy AND makes me a better mom.

    I will work as s nurse forever to pay for babysitting and someone to scrub my toilets.

  • Ty February 21, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    I am a babysitter and I think the best way to get a babysitter that you like is by getting a babysitter that your friends referred you to. I think that helps with your peace of mind.

  • Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams February 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    A lot of these comments are spot on! I babysat through high school, college and nannied in my early 20s. The biggest ones for me were: Ask me to get there 10 mins before you are ready to go because most children don’t start engaging with you until the parents are gone and the transition can be tough. Offering food always made me feel more comfortable, even though I didn’t always eat while babysitting. Have a special activity that the kids don’t get to do often, but nothing to complicated where I’m asking them where the scissors, glue, tape, straws and other items are. For older kids it’s helpful if you say their bedtime in front of them to me because then there isn’t much of a struggle to get them to bed close to that time. Always make sure to mention if you have pets beforehand. I’m not a fan of cats and I was always nervous about what to do with them when they were extra needy types. I was there for the kids, not pet sitting.

    Thank you for shedding light on such an important topic for mothers and women, since a lot babysit/nanny as part type jobs!

    Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

  • Brittany February 21, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    I’ve babysat for a LONG time. Still single in my 30s so I will still do it occasionally. This is just a list of things I wish all the people I sat for knew….
    -Biggest pet peeve….. coming home later than you originally said. If you know it’s going to be a late night, state that from the beginning. Sometimes it doesn’t matter for me, but other times I may have to get up early the next day and don’t want to be out all night. Also, I have a dog so I would have to make arrangements for him to be let out. And don’t text and ask if it’s ok if you come home later once you are already out…… it puts the sitter in an awkward position if they have to say no.
    -If you have certain rules for your kids (no soft drinks, certain foods are off limits, etc) make sure and tell your sitter. Don’t depend on the kids to tell them, because most likely they won’t.
    -If you have to cancel, do so in a timely manner. Good sitters are dependable. That means they plan their personal lives around commitments they have made so it gets very frustrating when you cancel last minute. Or they may have even told someone else no, because they had already committed to you. Even if the grandparents call and decide they want to keep the kids for free, don’t cancel last minute. Sickness is understandable.
    -If there are more kids than usual, ask the sitter if its ok and always pay extra.
    -Don’t come home drunk. ha! But seriously, it happens and it’s awkward 😉

    If you find a good sitter, make sure you let them know how grateful you are for them 🙂

  • Angela February 21, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    As a babysitter I always appreciate when parents:
    1) don’t leave the cooking up to me!! Just because you can trust me with your kiddos doesn’t mean I can make lasagna that they’ll approve of… especially when there’s little ones that need to be held or watched closely at all times.
    2) make sure I know the general routine (what’s expected to be done by the time they get home- dinner, bath, bed time, etc) as well as where important items are located. There’s nothing worse than trying to care for a baby when you can’t find the bottles or diapers!!

  • Emma Thorpe February 21, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    Hi Shay! Y’all, I’m not a mom BUT I have been babysitting for 10 years now (I’m now 22) and I have been a nanny for 4 boys during summer. My biggest tip for families when one of us sitters are with your kiddos is remind them of your kids’ nightly routine (if they are over at night). I watch close to 10 different families kids and as much as I would love to be able to remember what kids take a bath at night, which ones go to bed at 7:30 versus 8, etc. you know, I sometimes forget(; Or sometimes the kiddos like to try and push back their bedtime and get away with a later time. It also helps when you do have the same sitter because then those routines become apart of their routines when watching your kids. As well as it makes the sitter feel more comfortable in your house, with the kids, any disciplinary actions that might need to happen, etc. I have one family in particular that I am INCREDIBLY close with… like I would do absolutely anything for these kids, and when I go to their house there is an unspoken agreement between me and the parents. The kids respect me like they would their parents (with that they will push things though) and I am allowed to discipline them when the kids are acting out. But it is all due to me truly getting to be a part of the families life every day, not just when I go over to watch the kids for a night.

    ***another side note: if you find a sitter that you and your kids love, invite them over for dinner one night! My favorite thing is when families ask me to come over and hangout because I get to not just know the kids better but I get to know the mom and dad even better as well!

  • Southern & Style February 21, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    I LOVED babysitting in high school and college. In fact, my youth leaders have six kids and I knew that I had made it in the babysitting world when I was able to keep all of those sweet little ones at one time by myself. I think the number one thing that I wanted to be able to do when I babysat was to bring special toys or games that the kids didn’t have at their homes. Board games or card games (or puzzles!) depending on the age group were always a winner 🙂

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  • Lacey S February 21, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    I struggle with what to pay them! I babysat for a few families growing up and never loved it, I always felt underpaid, ha. We just moved from tX to NC & are making date nights a priority & have a new sitter. Her rate is $10 she said, which to me is so low. We pay more, but I still think it’s awkward! I also stink at having food/drinks on hand. I should ask her next time.

    Like others have said I make a list with activity ideas bc it always bothered me when I would ask what the kids wanted to do and get “I don’t know” so she at least has somewhere to start with activities. I also okay tv for 30 minutes or their discretion bc with 2 kids and one that’s under 1 if the sitter needs a moment I’m okay with that. I don’t have anyone bathe them, so I either get it done before or let them know they’re skipping bath night.

  • LaRae Davenport February 22, 2017 at 8:33 am

    We use this pad and it’s so great! https://www.amazon.com/Knock-Parents-Inches-Checklist-12250/dp/B0095HEQ90

    It’s flexible for each time we leave our kiddos and the sitters love it, because it’s an easy reference. We typically stick with 3 different sitters, and use whoever is available. Then our kids get used to them and comfortable. I think open communication is best. If you have an expectation to have the toys picked up, just state that (nicely, of course) and lay out expectations and pay accordingly or ask if they have an hourly rate. Good babysitters are hard to come by, so I treat them as I would want to be treated. Sometimes we bring home goodies from our date nights to share, sometimes we pay a little extra. We get to know them and even invite them over for dinner and movie night, to just have fun and love on them, without them having to watch our kids.

  • Ariel February 22, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I have babysat/nannied since I was in 7th grade for a family and still do as a senior in college! I’ve watched the addition of their sweet boy to their family and all three of the kids growing up, they are my pride and joy:) But I think it’s good to find a babysitter who is active with the kids, and one old enough to not get overwhelmed by the kids energy! Whenever I babysit for a family that I don’t ordinarily watch, the mom will leave me a list of all emergency contacts and then a schedule of the typical routine. In all the years I’ve babysat I haven’t had a problem (knock on wood), so just keep in mind that it’s usually only for a few hours and if you have someone good, the kids enjoy the time as well!:)

  • Holly Hopkins February 22, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    my kids are young (1&4) we get them in bed sleeping by 7pm we have a cue card on the fridge with our numbers, our neighbors, and my parents. I leave out snacks, netflix, and a new magazine for our sitter.
    We usually text her once while we are out.
    When I am out I don’t feel stressed wondering how she is managing because I know she is relaxing and the kids are asleep. This will not work as they get older but for their ages now it is perfect.
    For you I would say get the younger ones to bed if it is at night and have a movie and popcorn out for the older ones with instructions that when it is over they go to bed.

  • Shannon February 22, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    My best tip is to spoil your babysitter so they always want to babysit for your family. Then you know you can get them for important dates! I always find out what they would like to drink (a coke, Snapple, etc) and ask what kind of candy/treat they would like. And I pay them very well so they always want to come back!

    I always hated it when I babysat and there wasn’t anything good in the cupboard once the kids went to bed. 😉

  • Detroit Duchess February 22, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I babysat for many years in my younger days and would always bring a bag of goodies (games, coloring books, kids movies, etc.) over so the kids had something new and fun to play with. But I love kids and had so much fun playing with them. The family that I babysat for the most lived right next door to us, so I’m sure it was a relief for them to know that my mom was right next door in case of an emergency. They also got a TON of free time because I would come by all the time and play with the kids even when I wasn’t officially babysitting.

  • Haylee February 22, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    I am a day late with my response, but I used to be a nanny and I have to agree with Erika!
    When they have the same babysitter/nanny, it just makes things so much easier for everyone. The kids know what to expect and it makes them more at ease. From my personal experience (when I started out, my “kids” were 4 months, 6, and 11) you become like a member of the family because they know how you work, and you know how they work. I know how the kids are, what they like, the tricks they pull, I know if they are lying (who actually started this argument? who hit who?), and I know what to expect of them. They (along with the parents) know they can trust me with anything, they know how far they can push me (because all kids love to push buttons every once in a while), they know what my favorite things to play with them are, they know my routine and my habits. It is all about trusting each other, because you are leaving the babysitter with your most prized possessions, and the babysitter knows that! Yes, it does go without saying, but always tell the babysitter to help herself! The relationship between a babysitter/nanny and the kids is special, so when you find “the one” that fits in perfectly with your needs and your kids, stick with her. My kiddos knew that I would always protect them, and I know it is a little different being a nanny vs a babysitter (I have been a babysitter for MANY families as well) but you always want to know that she loves your kids and your kids love her! Bottom line, you stick with the same one and she will know your routine and how your family functions, they you won’t even think twice about heading out for a date night, because you know things are under control at home.

  • Emily February 23, 2017 at 11:11 am

    I can share a few tips that I like as a babysitter (still sitting at 27!). The basics can sometimes be overlooked. Is there a security system to deal with? Do doors lock behind you if they go outside to play? What are bedtime/eating/napping routines? What are some tricks if things don’t go as planned? Maybe not a big issue since your kids are a little older, but I recently sat for a two year old who screamed her head off when mom left and didn’t stop until I put her down for a nap….and then didn’t nap. Preferences are huge! Who likes what kinds of snacks or books or hobbies? A big issue I struggle with is boundaries so be clear if there are things they should definitely not be allowed-drinks after a certain time of night, sweet snacks at all, using scissors, etc. If there are things they don’t usually do but are ok while you are out, make that clear too. Are they really allowed to play with the hose or are they just trying to pull one over on me? Obviously, babysitters will know to call if something happens or when to dial 911 but typically it’s the things that make the kids happy and comfortable that can be forgotten.
    Hope that helps!
    Also, just recently started reading into the blog (binged all of the adoption posts. <3) since before I was just in for recipes and I love it!

  • Caitlyn February 24, 2017 at 11:02 pm

    Having been a nanny for 8 years for many families. I have to say all of the above comments are great but I would never want to go back to a home that has pages and pages of instructions. Medical instructions of course but the main concern is for them to have emergency numbers, money to have fun with the kids and to above all else keep everyone safe! If you know you trust the sitter that’s the biggest part!