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Baby sitter issue - nice art supplies ruined, help me put it in perspective

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 

We have started using a sitter for date nights.  Actually it's a mom, with her 15 year old teen, who she is sort of training to babysit.  It's a family from our church, generally like minded, home schooling single mom.  They are sweet, dependable, very available, and my kids like them.  Date nights have been such a positive thing for DH and I.  We've used them 3 times now.

 

DH has set all of this up on the phone, at my request that he take charge of us doing this.  The mom asked if we wanted them to do baths.  DH told her that we don't do nightly baths, and didn't need them to bathe the kids.  When we came home from our second date, the kids were bathed. I was a bit uncomfortable with this, but I'm a control freak, and I'm trying to let go more.  I would have liked to have been asked first - perhaps a simple text (The mom has texted with DH some during our dates, mostly just saying "all is well").  The kids were fine, clean, happy, and ready for bed.  I was glad to sit down and nurse my baby.  I had a nice time with DH.  I didn't comment.

 

The third date we were running late and I was getting dressed when they arrived.  So, I came down to say bye to the kids after they'd been playing awhile.  DD1 and the teen were playing with a craft that was up high out of DD1's reach (though in easy view of the teen).  I was a bit irritated they'd taken it down (mosaic stickers, so hundreds of tiny stickers), but I figured they'd clean it up and I wasn't attached to the craft, and they were already doing it, so it didn't seem worth commenting.  DD1 is THRILLED to have the undivided attention of a teen and doesn't want me involved.

 

They bathed the kids again that night.  We got in late and they left quickly.  The next day I saw paintings they had done, which startled me.  Doing laundry this week I discovered  clothes with lots of paint on them.  I casually asked DD1 what paint they had used, and she said "my very special paint"!!  This is her brand new Stockmar wet on wet paint - expensive paint designed to be very diluted.  It was up high out of her reach, but again, in view, right with her nice glass paint jars.  Not only did they use the paint, they put brushes directly in the bottles!!!  We don't even do that with our cheap crayola paints. All three primary colors are mixed up, and most of the bottles are gone.  This was about $25 worth of paint, which should have lasted years. It doesn't even look like kid paint. The bottles weren't even wiped off.  The clothes are stained as well.  I'm floored and having lots of trouble making this into an innocent mistake.  I feel really violated here.  It just feels so disrespectful of our property.  They didn't ask if the kids could paint.  I didn't think to tell them not to take down craft supplies out of kid reach.  We have TONS of toys, books, and even craft supplies in easy kid reach that would have been FINE to use. 

 

I've talked with DD1 about this, but I'm not sure how we should talk with the sitters.  I wonder if I can feel comfortable leaving them with my girls in my home again.  I don't want to start from the drawing board looking for a sitter.  Should we just mention the paints?  The baths too?  Honestly, I think I'm ok with the baths, but I would have prefered having the chance to give explicit instructions on what to use on the kids and such.  I don't know how to mention everything they might think to do with the kids.  I don't want to make this about money.  They are a low income family, and I do NOT want them to pay for the paint or the clothes. 

post #2 of 80

If it was in view, they probably thought it would be okay.  You should probably move expensive art supplies out of view (like hidden away in a closet somewhere) so no one gets any ideas.  For all we know, your DD could have persuaded them to let her use them, kwim?

 

As far as the baths go, I would probably make a point of telling them not to bathe her or try to bathe her before you leave if possible.  She probably needed a good bath after the paint incident though.  I can only imagine what that all looked like.  Yikes.

post #3 of 80

My dd is much younger than your kiddos, but when I leave her with the sitter I am very specific about what's okay and also what's not. We found lemonade in her tilty cup one day, and ever since we've had to detail each time what we expect. I plan to stay an extra 5 minutes or so each time to go through what she should wear if they go outside, that she should have a hat and sunscreen, that she cannot have milk, etc. Everyone does it differently so you have to be very clear. Our sitter is in college and works for several families on our street and I like to make sure she has it all clear.

 

That really sucks about the expensive paint.

post #4 of 80

I would say that you only want the kids to use and play with the things within reach- these particular art supplies, these particular toys, these particular movies. Paint and craft projects up high are off limits. You can also put things out of sight.

 

If you really don't want them to do baths then say no baths, you want to take care of baths yourself. Saying the kids don't need it every night kind of makes it sound like you don't mind if they do it.

 

If there are no other issues then I would just try to communicate more clearly what they can use in your home and what you would like them to do. It seems to me that that would take care of it. I wouldn't lose sitters you like and your kids like over this.

post #5 of 80

I doubt they realized that the paints were expensive. I think you could handle this by saying, "I'm keeping some of the craft supplies up here because I don't want the girls to use them without me, so please don't use these with them when I'm not here. I've put some other craft supplies over here,," and about the bath, "Since we don't give a bath every night, I wasn't thinking about this the other times you sat for us, but if you do decide to bathe her, here are the products we like to use so her skin doesn't get too dry."

 

I get why they like a bath every time--that was a tip from my grandmother, that a lot of children fall asleep better after a bath. I think if you don't say "DON'T give them a bath," they probably will. 

post #6 of 80
It sounds frustrating, but I'd explore why you feel so violated before broaching it with them. Doing crafts is a pretty standard way to occupy kids when babysitting. If the mom was modeling how to engage the kids in activities, I don't think it's so out of line. Every family has different standards for neat/messy so that might explain the messy clothes--it might not occur to everyone.

I'd be a little more uncomfortable about the bathing and either have the kids in jammies or already bathed.
post #7 of 80

I might have them back again.  But, I'd have the expensive crafts put away, and get some normal paints and things out for them to do.  I'm betting the 15 yr old really loves the crafts and maybe has never had them to use, so this is a lot of fun for him.  

 

Have everything on the counter and ready to go before they get there.  

 

I agree with you though.  At the age of 15, I'd have NEVER even dreamed of giving kids paint with their regular clothes on, and I absolutely knew that you didn't put the brushes right into the paint.  It wasn't something I figured out as an adult.   I'd expect a little common sense from a teenager... not a lot, just a little.

 

I also don't think you should feel bad about not calling them to come back.  It's great to have other babysitters too.  Maybe someone with more experience.    My daughter babysat when she was younger, and she was never their ONLY babysitter.  There were a few people who didn't call her to come back.  It's part of life, and it's how we learn.  You don't owe this mom and son anything if you don't feel like coming home to a mess.  

post #8 of 80

Using the paint wouldn't bug me that much (although I'd hide things I didn't want used the next time), though staining clothes would.  Giving the kids baths would honestly bug me too.  I'm sure they were just trying to help, but I would not like the idea and feeling of babysitters bathing my kids.  An adult should think about stained clothes enough to give you the heads up so you can soak them or whatever.   Personally, I would either tell them very frankly what was okay/not okay to play with and to please not bathe them OR I would just not have them back again.  I guess I would lean towards getting a different sitter, but only because I prefer it when I don't have to tell a sitter things that I feel like they should already know...like if my kid gets paint all over his clothes, please bring it to my attention so I can try to get the stains out, or better yet, don't use the paint without asking me.  We have a sitter right now who I'm in love with.  She is 16, picks up toys without asking, doesn't eat my food even though we always offer it to her, and leaves my house cleaner than I left it even though I've told her her only job is to entertain junior.  I can relax unlike with some others who made me feel like I had more work to do when they left or left me feeling edgy about what they were going to do next (ie. paint everywhere.)  I think you'd have more fun going out if you didn't have to worry about that sort of thing. 

post #9 of 80

I think a babysitter would have assumed paints in view were ok. I don't think she did anything wrong. You should just remind the sitter no baths. Especially if it was the mom who asked you, not the babysitter.

post #10 of 80

I think the paint is a sad but understandable mistake.  When I have a sitter the only place and things that are off limits are the things in my room.  Everything else is free game.  I am also not that savvy about fancy art supplies and I am betting a lot of other people aren't either.  Did you try the Oxy spray on the clothes?  My dd went to a play-based daycare and came home with all sorts of stains from art and outside play and we always had success with that stuff.  If the clothing stains are a concern to you then I think you should tell them specifically what is for the kids and what isn't so you can keep things that stain off the list.  It really sounds like you two have a clash of styles going on and it might work better to have just the teenager there.  I don't like having other moms watch my dd in my home but I have had great success with teenagers because they tend to not have the different ideas about my parenting decisions that other moms have.  Maybe it is time to suggest that the teenager come by themselves because two people for two kids isn't working for your family. 

post #11 of 80
Thread Starter 

Thank you for all of the replies.  It's helping me work through my feelings on all of this.  FWIW, the teen is a girl.  As far as the bath thing goes, I think something like Captain Optimism said, "Since I don't do baths each night, I didn't think to tell you, but if you're going to do a bath ...."  will suffice.  I honestly don't mind them bathing the girls.  I just wanted to give explicit instructions first.

 

I am trying to work out my issue with the painting thing.  Part of it is that these paints were on their own on a shelf of adult books up out of kid reach.  I don't understand why they would even think they were for kids.  They are part of a special set we recently got for DD1.  It was a big deal (and pricey) gift with all of the accessories, and we made a big deal about the ritual of wet on wet painting with DD1 and how to treat it all.  Now I'll have to replace the paint to be able to use any of the accessories.  And when I asked about what they did, DD1 said "I didn't like the paints" eyesroll.gif  They don't paint so nicely undiluted on dry paper.  I imagine she felt guilty about the whole thing from the start.

 

Painting in regular clothes (there is a painting apron in a little drawer of the kids craft table they sat at, as well as kid paints) and dipping dirty paint brushes in bottles (new full bottles of adult looking paint) just feels like an obvious no no.  The craft table has paper and crayons on it all the time.  They had to go in craft drawers at kid reach to find brushes, and that drawer also has plastic paint jars for dolling out small amounts of paint.  I just can't follow the train of thought here.  It feels thoughtless on several notes.

 

I'm also at a loss as to why they didn't tell me "We painted.  The girls got paint on their clothes, but we cleaned up the rest of the mess."  They did tell us about the evening before they left, and made no mention of painting.

 

I guess I'm just not sure how to prevent something similar but different from happening.  I get the "I should have hidden the expensive paint" idea, and thought to myself, I should have hidden the nice paints and put out kid paints, but seriously, how was I to predict they'd decide to paint??  Once I start hiding, what else I should hide?  Food in the pantry or fridge?  Toiletries?  We did show them around the house and talk about things they could do the first time they came, pointing out the play room and toys, the study with the craft table with paper and crayons, shelves of kid books, their bedroom, pajamas, diapers, etc. 

 

Just calling another sitter is way easier said than done.  I don't have another sitter.  2 months ago, I just didn't have a sitter.  It took me over 6 months of saying, "we should start using a sitter" to get to the point that we found someone to call that we felt comfortable with using.  DD2 is little and doesn't go to other care takers easily.  I want a very consistent, preferably not teen, sitter for her.

post #12 of 80
I would assume paint were out of kid reach because they aren't suppose to use them unsupervised not because they aren't allowed to use the paint.

I think many people stick paint brushes directly in paint and would not think that was something not to do.

Its not like they tried on your underwear or something. They used paint they could see the way they use paint (which was not the way this paint is intended to be used).

Also, my feeling with kids clothes and messes and stains is 'if they arent dirty they didn't have any fun!' I would not expect someone to tell me if ds got paint on his clothes would not even be on my radar.
post #13 of 80

I would hire someone else. I would never get into a persons things without permission.Toys yes,but not craft supplies that are one time use. I would think the mother would know better. I would not want the mother and her teen caring for my children. If the cloths was messed up I would mention they were washed or soaking.Why weren't the cloths covered while painting? I guess I am more careful and respectful of peoples belongings to get into their things like this pair did.

 

Every time I left my kids with them I would worry about what they were getting into,and what things I may not be told when I come home. Perhaps this is just how it is when you leave your kids with strangers. You could just blow this stuff off,but the next time you mention what you want them to do.Make a list of activites and supplies they are permitted to use to entertain your children.List what to be used for during a bath.Whatever you can think of list it. Then hope for the best!

 

Most people don't mean any harm,but they just live life a different way than  you do. If you make a list there is no doubt in how you want them to do things.Let them know to call you ANY TIME if they are in doubt.Perhaps that will help tide things over till they get used to caring for your children if the way you want them.

 

Like you do with little kids and strangers-put away the things you don't want people to get into.

post #14 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbone_kneegrabber View Post

I would assume paint were out of kid reach because they aren't suppose to use them unsupervised not because they aren't allowed to use the paint.

I think many people stick paint brushes directly in paint and would not think that was something not to do.

Its not like they tried on your underwear or something. They used paint they could see the way they use paint (which was not the way this paint is intended to be used).

Also, my feeling with kids clothes and messes and stains is 'if they arent dirty they didn't have any fun!' I would not expect someone to tell me if ds got paint on his clothes would not even be on my radar.



I pretty much feel the same way, though if I were babysitting someone's child I'd be a bit more cautious about the stains on clothes (change them into obviously craft-friendly already stained clothes, or have them paint in no shirt if that seemed appropriate). 

 

I wouldn't be at all surprised if your dd convinced the babysitter(s) that it was totally ok and all good for them to use those paints together.  It sounds like the paints are a new an exciting edition to her craft supplies and I bet she was eager to use them.  Similarly, my dd at the age of 2 convinced my (then childless) friend who was babysitting her for the day that mommy and daddy always buy her the "brown milk" (chocolate milk), and got her to give glasses of it to her all afternoon!  How dd even knew what the "brown milk" was since she'd NEVER had it in her life I'll never know!  Lol!

 

The bath thing wouldn't even hit my radar.  You're talking about another mom here.  When you told her they "didn't need to bother" giving a bath I'm sure the mom (if not the teen) was thinking "oh well, giving a bath is easy enough - we'll do it to help them out",yk?  In fact if someone gave my kids a bath while babysitting I'd think "oh great - the kids got bathed, now I don't have to bother tomorrow night".  If what you really mean is "please don't give my kids a bath" then I think you need to make that clear.  Or, like you mentioned in your 2nd post, just take a minute to point out the kid shampoo/soap/whatever for next time.

 

It sounds like a great babysitting team/future babysitter, and what you've described wouldn't be anything that would make me not want to hire them/her again.

post #15 of 80


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post

 

 Doing laundry this week I discovered  clothes with lots of paint on them.  I casually asked DD1 what paint they had used, and she said "my very special paint"!!  This is her brand new Stockmar wet on wet paint - expensive paint designed to be very diluted.  It was up high out of her reach, but again, in view, right with her nice glass paint jars.  Not only did they use the paint, they put brushes directly in the bottles!!!  We don't even do that with our cheap crayola paints. All three primary colors are mixed up, and most of the bottles are gone.  This was about $25 worth of paint, which should have lasted years. It doesn't even look like kid paint. The bottles weren't even wiped off.  The clothes are stained as well.

 

I taught my kids from a young age not to stick a brush with paint on it into a jar with a different color paint. I would be ticked too. And I think most adults (or reasonable teen) should know that if clothes have something on them that can stain, getting it treated and washed as quickly as possible is the best chance of avoiding the stain.

 

I can understand their mistake of not knowing that you didn't want the paints used, but the rest of me seems like a lack in judgement that makes them untrustworthy.


At the same time, I wonder if since your DD labeled them her "special paint" and it was clear that they were new, if perhaps it should have been a little more obvious that you'd prefer them be left alone when you weren't there, and perhaps the teen was more excited about new art supplies than really concerned with what was appropriate for your kids or what you would prefer. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flower of Bliss View Post
I guess I'm just not sure how to prevent something similar but different from happening.  I get the "I should have hidden the expensive paint" idea, and thought to myself, I should have hidden the nice paints and put out kid paints, but seriously, how was I to predict they'd decide to paint??  Once I start hiding, what else I should hide?  Food in the pantry or fridge?  Toiletries? 


I would feel this way too. I couldn't relax with them in the house.  I would be out wondering what would be trashed when I got back.

 

My kids are only 13 and 14, and they would know better than what your sitter AND HER MOM did. Leave things the way you found them is pretty basic. There is a HUGE difference between using some of the paint and putting the rest neatly away vs trashing the paint and clothes.

 

Also, in future, I would be more clear about bedtime routine. I'd write down what I wanted done and at what time.

 

 

post #16 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 

My kids are only 13 and 14, and they would know better than what your sitter AND HER MOM did. Leave things the way you found them is pretty basic. There is a HUGE difference between using some of the paint and putting the rest neatly away vs trashing the paint and clothes.


 

 


I'll admit that at 15 I was still pretty clueless, and I might have thought dipping the brushes in the paint was totally fine (esp if it was billed to me by the child as "her" paint and therefore not in my mind as "adult paint"), and I might have thought getting the clothes in the laundry hamper and cleaning the table was all that needed to be done re. clean-up.  I would, however, expect a bit more of the mother.  That said, it occurs to me that maybe the mom was busy looking after the op's younger child while the teen did the painting crafts.  The mom might have thought that everything was fine when she came in to a cleaned-up room and might not have thought about what was done with the clothes (or what was worn during the craft).  Anyway, just putting that out there as a possibility.

 

I guess, as I think about it some more, I would be plenty annoyed about the trashed paint and stained clothes, but I'd probably see it as a honest mistake.  Like I said in my pp it wouldn't deter me from hiring them again - I would just be more explicit in my instructions and put anything I *really* didn't want them getting into out of reach.  I don't think I'd worry about them getting into toiletries or personal stuff, just based on the OP.  I think it's a far cry from using paint (albeit the "wrong" paint) for painting, to rifling through someone's personal stuff.

 

post #17 of 80

As a teen, I was pretty antsy about not making messes in the homes of other people.  Back in those days, picking up and doing some light cleaning used to be a part of things, so I did dishes and picked up the toys after the kids went to bed.  So as a 15 year old, no, I wouldn't have gotten paint down because I'd have worried they'd have gotten it on their clothing and I'd have to clean it up, and the parents would be angry at stained clothing, or wouldn't have wanted the supplies consumed.  But I was babysitting in the early 80's, so things are different now.  If they were water colors (the chalky kind in the trays), I'd probably have let them use them, after first asking if their parents thought it was OK.  My kids had tempera paints and those stain, so I'm kind of picky about how my kids used them, making sure to clean the brushes and put paper down on the table and make sure their clothes don't get dirty if they are clothes I care about.  So from that perspective, yes, I'd be a little angry about the whole thing.  It doesn't sound they tried to stain treat the clothing at all, and I wouldn't let other people's kids ruin paints by mixing them all together.  If my own kids do that, they know the consequences, but if I'm watching someone else's kids, I feel like it's my responsibility.  And I do help with the art program at the elementary school, and helping kids properly use the supplies is part of what we have to do, and that involves learning about them myself.

 

I'm not familiar with Stockmar paints, but I just googled them.  It looks like they are pigments that you mix with water to make water colors,  and the bottles are supposed to last for years. I don't if there were any kind of written instructions on the bottles, but I would be upset that there was no attempt to even figure out what they were dealing with.  I don't think I'd assume that all art supplies were the same, anymore than I'd assume every computer or DVD or musical instrument was open and fair game, you know?  

 

Since this teen is in training to become a babysitter, I think explaining things and giving a list of expectations is a good idea.  If the parent or the teen gets upset with your training and discussion, then clearly they are not the babysitters for you.

post #18 of 80

I dunno... Not really sure that it's fair to not explain anything to the babysitter(s) and then get annoyed when they did stuff you didn't want them to do. "Well, they should have known" isn't adequate.

post #19 of 80

I would be annoyed, but I think I would hire them again.  I would be more clear about what was okay and not okay, and if there was another incident would stop hiring them after that.  The paint thing would upset me but I would probably let it go since I hadn't said it wasn't okay.

post #20 of 80

http://www.amazon.com/Watercolor-Paints-Set-of-6/dp/B0013N16WY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1308370863&sr=1-1-catcorr

 

Idunno... I still think a teenager should have known better than to use these paints, or to put the brush directly into the paint bottle.  If the mother is really teaching her 15 yr old to babysit, why didn't the Mother show any concern for that activity?  Or at LEAST worry about painting without a smock.   I DO think your older daughter had the idea, and showed the sitters where the paint was, and I bet she said "Ya, those are mine".  So, I can't say I totally blame the sitters, they probably just want the kids to be happy.

 

Still, I think if you have them come back, just look around the house and see what possible trouble they can get into and try to head it off first.  Put play clothes on the kids before you leave, and tell the sitters "no bath, they just had a bath last night".

 

 

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