teenage babysitter, wwyd or say? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Once in awhile if i am still working and dh has a lacrosse game for my son's team we will get one of our nieces to look after Jenna and Cam.
We tried the first niece who is 14, i tell my 8 year old son that he does not go out to play when they are here, just so he can be my eyes and ears while i'm not there. Anyways after babysitter left and boys were on their computer they kept complaining that something was popping up on the computer.
It appears that she had downloaded MSN messenger(without asking) and now all her friends were looking for her, so asked son what she did while i was away and he said she was on the computer for awhile.
I was pissed called her mother my dh's cousin and pretended to be dumb and asked if her daughter used MSN and that she had downloaded it on our computer.

So we get niece #2 to babysit, she is a very quiet mature girl, (14) anyways the only i really noticed when i got home the other night Jenna and Cam were sitting together on the loveseat watching t.v (fine) and she was sitting on the couch reading her book.
Now is it to much to ask for these girls to play with the kids? She was only there for an hour!
I just remember when i babysat i would take the kids to the park, play with them! Once kids were in bed i would straighten up, do dishes we used etc, than park my a** in front of the tv and pig out!
Am i Expecting to much???
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#2 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 09:39 AM
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well, if the kids were content maybe the girls didn't want to bug them. Or maybe your kids didn't want to play. Ask your children first, and then next time, let the babysitter know what you expect from them. Teens now are so different than we we were teens.
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#3 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 09:45 AM
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You need to teach them what to do, set expectations etc. The world is so very different than when we were teens. I too would have played and cleaned etc.

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#4 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 10:22 AM
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We recently hired a teen to watch our daughter and when we came home 2 hours later they were watching TV. Before I jumped to conclusions (which I am apt to do) I casually asked my daughter what they had done. They had played playdough, colored, etc, and in theend she wanted to watch TV. No biggy.

Perhaps you feel uncomfortable about hiring teens. Perhaps you could find an older sitter? This way you don't run through all your teenage relatives and perhaps will avoid hard feelings.
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#5 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 01:07 PM
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It's not that teens in general are irresponsible, lazy, unskilled babysitters... it's just that the best teen babysitters are not necessarily the ones who are the most convenient for you - i.e. relatives or neighbors. The key is to find a teenager who genuinely enjoys being with children. Had your nieces given indication that they love being with children, playing, etc., or were they more interested in babysitting because it seems like an easy way to get some spending money and they wanted to please you, their aunt?

I was one of those teenagers who loved children so much I would've babysat for free if necessary. I started as a mother's helper at age 9. It came naturally to me. However, many teenagers do NOT have that natural knack with kids, and don't particularly want to be with kids. My 14-yr-old sister, for instance, is pretty freaked out by our baby niece - doesn't want to hold her, doesn't know what to do with her. Whereas when I was 14, I was daydreaming about being a mom someday, writing little stories about being shipwrecked on an island with an adorable baby that I had to save (my favorite book was "Baby Island" by Carol Ryrie Brink), reading Babysitter's Club books, befriending the neighborhood toddlers, etc.

You [I]could[I] try training your nieces to be more fun, interactive, attentive babysitters... but if they have no natural interest in playing with the kids, and would only be doing it because you told/asked them to, it's not helping anyone in the long run.

I would suggest asking/looking around for babysitter recommendations. If you have a local YMCA/YWCA, they often have babysitter training courses for young teens, and the teens who take the time to do that are usually more serious about babysitting. A local high school may have students who have chosen to take a child development class. Church nurseries often have caring, interested teens volunteering. Ask friends and local moms if they have any babysitters that their kids love.

Good luck!
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#6 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for the responses, both these girls did the babysitting course and seemed happy to babysit. (i thought)
I just remember when i was babysitting and if the child was upset because mommy was going i would get down on the floor and start playing with the toys and this would usually calm the child somewhat to come and see what i was doing!
Not these girls, they just sit there while my daughter is crying because i am leaving.
I guess i need to be more direct, i am the adult!!:
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#7 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 02:15 PM
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When I babysat as a teen (not all that long ago!), I'd go by what the kids wanted to do. Honestly, sometimes they seemed interested only in watching a television program and ignoring me and each other, especially if TV is not something they normally got to do.

To get them all doing something more interactive, get your kids excited about a cool (but not too complicated and messy) art project or game. Then they'll want to do that when the babysitter arrives

Mama to Raina (9/06) and Peter (8/09)!
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#8 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 03:05 PM
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: I was a horrible babysitter, and to this day, I have no idea why ppl kept asking me to watch their kids.
Probably because my mom left me with all my siblings, even overnight, and none died. Yes, there were trips to the hospital, stitches, broken bones, concussions. : I wasn't abusive, just didn't know that it wasn't okay to let them jump off the garage roof, or climb in the washer and turn it on, or other really stupid kid stuff. One place, the kids built a ramp with boards cuz they wanted a bike jump. Very bad idea.

After I had my babies, I always 'interrogated' babysitters before I hired them.
ie- If the baby is crying what do you normally do?
If the 4 year old wants to do dishes, what do you do?

I made up open ended questions based on how my children behave and if I didn't like their answers, then I didn't hire them.

I also had very strict rules as to what was allowed and not allowed.
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#9 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 03:49 PM
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One thing I find helpful is to have specific activities planned. I also discuss them with my kids and in front of my kids when I tell the sitter. That way, they help bug her too, LOL! For example, I might say:

"Michael needs to do the next page in his summer bridge book. He should be able to do it on his own, but he might need to ask you to explain. I told Katie Grace and Nicholas that they could play with play dough. You'll have to sit with them to make sure Nick doesn't eat it. They love to go outside, but no TV and no computer. I put a box of crackers on the counter for snack."

Also, we turn off our computer and password protect it.

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#10 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 04:36 PM
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IMO the majority of girls under 16 are not mature and responsible enough to sit for a 2 yr old. 16 and over is better, college age is more ideal.

I was a good sitter even when I was about 15 I'd watch infants, but I was always super-cautious and had a good motherly instinct, not all girls have it, for some it takes time.

DD1 7/13/05 DD2 9/20/10
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#11 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 06:40 PM
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I agree, I was a very hands on babysitter when I was young.
My niece is 11 and she watches my 3 y/o (I drop him off at her house when her mom, who is my sister is home). The 11 y/o does the majority of the "babysitting" but my sister is there just in case. I pay her, so it does bug me that she and my ds are watching tv the entire time I'm gone.
But that's how she grew up, the tv was on 24/7 in the house, so that's what she knows, kwim?
I have asked her to play with him more and I usually send books and playdough with him now, and even his wooden train set so they have something else to do.
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#12 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by MamaInTheBoonies
I wasn't abusive, just didn't know that it wasn't okay to let them jump off the garage roof, or climb in the washer and turn it on, or other really stupid kid stuff. One place, the kids built a ramp with boards cuz they wanted a bike jump. Very bad idea.
MITB, have you ever read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever?" I just got the most vivid image of the Herdmans when I read your post.

We did the ramp for the bike jump, too. Definitely not the greatest idea, but it was fun while it lasted.

My experience with teenage babysitters: My comfort level is 16 and up. (Ds' dad is a high school teacher and ds has been a minor celebrity at the school since birth, so we have a never-ending supply of offerors.) I generally have them over once first while I'm home to see how they interact with him. It's a little less important now that he's older and is good at making his own fun and more self-sufficient, but I still do hang out for the first 1/2 hour or so the first time, doing stuff around the house, just to get a feel for how things are going. I prefer them to be CPR-certified (a surprising number are) but am willing to let that slide if it's a short time and I know that there will be a responsible adult nearby.

I've found that clear instructions as to your expectations are a must. The few times I've forgotten to say, "No television," I've come home to a child who has clearly been plastered to the darned thing since I walked out the door. When I've remembered, I come home to a beautiful disaster zone of toys and crafts.

IME, teenagers can make *fantastic* babysitters. But it's a rare one that can do so without any direction. It's like any other job - you need training to be good at it.
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#13 of 14 Old 07-22-2006, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dragonfly
It's like any other job - you need training to be good at it.
Truer words were never spoken (err... typed?).

Along the same lines... the majority of people will not do a job for you with the same standards as you would do the job yourself. That goes for an office job... that doubly goes for childcare!

ETA: Not that a slack babysitter is ever ok...
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#14 of 14 Old 07-23-2006, 09:17 AM
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If it is only once in a while for a short amount of time why not make it a special "movie" night? The kids could select a fave movie, you could prepare some healthy snacks and then they get to look forward to something fun even though you won't be there.

When I did daycare in college the kids got to watch one movie a week and they really looked forward to all getting comfy on pillows and just vegging out for an hour or so. And they got to vote on the movie. BTW, that was the only tv/video thing I allowed so the rest of the time was spent doing activities.

Just a thought.
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