Dear High School Babysitter - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:12 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Dear High School Babysitter,

When I hire you for $9 an hour (which is more than many adults make BTW), I expect a few things besides keeping my kids alive (which I'll admit is my main focus - but a little more would make me painfully happy).

Please don't let the kids call me on my cell phone to see if
*they don't need to take a bath even though I directly told both them AND you that they did before I left
*the three year old can have a second vitamin today
*any other thing that is not important

If they don't get to have cookies for dinner because you make that decision (which is part of what I am paying you for) and it turns out later that they actually do get cookies for dinner, I'll remedy it the next day. Make the tough decisions!

When I ask that they be in bed by nine, and get home to them still awake after ten, do not expect that this thrills me.

When the kids are in bed, PUT SOME THINGS AWAY!!!! I am just blown away that you find it acceptable to sit on my couch watching tv - with dirty dinner dishes all over, toys on the floor, etc. It KILLS me to pay you when I walk in to the house a disaster.

When I babysat back in high school, my mom taught me to:
*watch the kids, play with the kids, take great care of the kids first and foremost!
*AND when they go to bed, pick up all toys. Do the dishes. If the dishwasher is full of clean dishes - imagine this! UNLOAD THEM! Then you can reload the dirty ones!
*I would put the towels and kids' clothes from that day in the washer and start them.
*I was not allowed to watch tv (my mom's rule) until I had done everything I could possibly find to do - whether it was already there before I arrived or not. Put fresh water in the dog bowl. Wipe down the kitchen counters. Straighten the stuff on the coffee table. Fold clean laundry.

Thank you.
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#2 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:16 AM
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I think it's obvious that what you need to do is sit down with the babysitter BEFORE you hire her and clarify, in writing, what you're paying her for and what your reasonable expectations are. Frankly, although I sympathize with you about the unnecessary calling -- because I agree that your expectations about (for example) the bath were spelled out in advance -- I wouldn't expect the babysitter to do your dishes for you too unless that duty had been agreed upon in advance by both of you.
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#3 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:17 AM
 
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I don't know about filling up the dog's the water bowl or doing laundry but I can see why you were annoyed. I think it's very important to clean up after yourself & the kids. Following instructions seems like a given.
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#4 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:21 AM
 
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My dim recollections of baby-sitting are that kids often would NOT go to sleep for me, and my even dimmer recollections of being baby-sat are that I would do everything within my power to keep awake until my parents got home safely. So I'm not sure I'd assume she didn't make a serious effort with bedtime.
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#5 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:23 AM
 
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I agree about the incessant calling...but when I was babysitting as a teen, the only dishes I would wash were the ones I personally had dirtied, and I'd probably do the kids' dishes, too, just because I was there. I would never unload someone else's dishwasher, because a) I don't know where everything goes, and b) I was taught by my mom that it's rude to open other people's cabinets.

I would generally tidy any mess made during the babysitting gig, but certainly not anything that was messy before I got there.

I'd actually be pretty peeved if a babysitter took it upon him/herself to clean my house, do my laundry, etc., while babysitting. I could understand it, maybe, if the sitter got bored, but we have a Wii, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and 2 pretty impressive gaming computers, not to mention 400+ DVDs...there's no reason any teenager should get bored enough to clean someone else's mess.
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#6 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:26 AM
 
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Dunno, we LOVE our sitter and I suppose our attitude is we're just grateful to go away and not have to worry for a few hours. I really don't care what they do and how or when. They beg to have her come over and a few dirty dishes etc aren't an issue. If I didn't trust her, I wouldn't have her come over so I suppose I figure I have to go w/that.

Maybe find a new sitter who meets your expectations?
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#7 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJamie View Post
I agree about the incessant calling...but when I was babysitting as a teen, the only dishes I would wash were the ones I personally had dirtied, and I'd probably do the kids' dishes, too, just because I was there. I would never unload someone else's dishwasher, because a) I don't know where everything goes, and b) I was taught by my mom that it's rude to open other people's cabinets.

I would generally tidy any mess made during the babysitting gig, but certainly not anything that was messy before I got there.

I'd actually be pretty peeved if a babysitter took it upon him/herself to clean my house, do my laundry, etc., while babysitting. I could understand it, maybe, if the sitter got bored, but we have a Wii, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, and 2 pretty impressive gaming computers, not to mention 400+ DVDs...there's no reason any teenager should get bored enough to clean someone else's mess.
This.
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#8 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:36 AM
 
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As a former teen babysitter (when I was 13-14), I really don't think your expectations are too much. Well, maybe unloading the dishwasher, because it's hard to do that when you don't know where everything goes, but defiantly making the 'tough decisions,' getting the kids to bed (or at the very least IN bed), and tiding up the toys and after dinner.
If I were you I'd have a little sit down with the babysitter. At least give her a clear idea of what you're expecting! If you do that and she still doesn't get things done, find someone else! But I'm guessing she's just a little clueless and doesn't even think about what you'd like her to do.
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#9 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 03:49 AM
 
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Honestly, as a babysitter as a teen, it never even would have occured to me that I should do any dishes or cleaning up. You should talk to her.

Be forewarned that some teens have no clue how to do dishes or clean up, you may end up re-doing it anyway.

I wouldn't want some kid all up in my dishwasher and cabinets, or trying to do my laundry. Their job would be to take care of the kids, that's it. But then again, that's why I don't hire babysitters, I don't even trust them with my stuff, let alone my kids, but I guess that's a whole nother thread.

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#10 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 04:08 AM
 
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We tried out a babysitter who was recommended by her teacher. She took the "sit" part WAY too literally! I mean, she seriously seemed to think as long as the kids were alive she was doing her job. She just let the baby cry (I was home as it was a trial run so I took him after a couple minutes.) She wouldn't get a game down from the shelf for DD. I normally don't expect any housework beyond cleaning up what toys you get out while there (if possible- I know sometimes it's one crisis to the next and you don't get a chance to clean up as you go) but I DO expect some level of actual involvement with the children. If all I wanted was to keep the kids out of physical danger for a while I would simply invest in a playpen. When I told her she didn't need to come back she was genuinely surprised that I thought she hadn't done a good job. Um, hello, texting your friends while the baby cries????

Here's to you and me finding really good babysitters!

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#11 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 04:16 AM
 
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I babysat for 3 boys when I was a teen, and I was an awesome babysitter -- I was 100% focused on them, playing with them, etc. the entire time I was over there. But it never occurred to me to clean up after myself or them -- I literally didn't see the mess we made.

One day the mom very kindly asked me to please wash any dishes we used and put away any toys we used before she came home, and from then on I did just that. It was totally no big deal -- I just needed to be informed about the situation because I wasn't a mind-reader and, well, I was a teenager! Teenagers don't see messes -- they really don't!

You mentioned that your mom taught you about all the housekeeping things you should do while babysitting -- maybe her mom hasn't done that. Don't hold it against her, just educate and inform her -- that's probably all she needs. (However, I don't think it's reasonable to expect her to do laundry, unload the dishwasher, etc. -- she's not a live-in nanny/housekeeper. I would only ask her to clean up stuff that she and the kids use while she's there.)

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#12 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 05:14 AM
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I have poignant memories of babysitting for a particular family where the boy (age 8 or 9) chased me around with a knife, and the 18 mo. baby WOULD. NOT. STOP. CRYING!

Babysitting is harder than it looks.

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#13 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 05:41 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirsten View Post
Please don't let the kids call me on my cell phone to see if
*they don't need to take a bath even though I directly told both them AND you that they did before I left
*the three year old can have a second vitamin today
*any other thing that is not important
This would drive me to get a new babysitter.

Quote:
When I ask that they be in bed by nine, and get home to them still awake after ten, do not expect that this thrills me.
To be fair, this is not always an easy task. Have you asked her why the kids are not in bed? Does she explain that she tried but that they will not go?

Quote:
When the kids are in bed, PUT SOME THINGS AWAY!!!! I am just blown away that you find it acceptable to sit on my couch watching tv - with dirty dinner dishes all over, toys on the floor, etc. It KILLS me to pay you when I walk in to the house a disaster.
OK I understand that perhaps she should arrange the toys a bit but not sure about the rest. If you are hiring someone for babysitting, then their job is babysitting. If you want a cleaner, then you should tell the person that she is a babysitter AND a cleaner. The two jobs are not the same (especially if the dishes are in part from the rest of the day and not just the dishes that the kids dirtied while the babysitter was with them).

I remember getting hired as a "babysitter" and then the mom asking me to do the laundry and being royally p*ssed off about misleading me about job title. A babysitter babysits. A cleaner cleans.

Quote:
When I babysat back in high school, my mom taught me to:
*watch the kids, play with the kids, take great care of the kids first and foremost!
*AND when they go to bed, pick up all toys. Do the dishes. If the dishwasher is full of clean dishes - imagine this! UNLOAD THEM! Then you can reload the dirty ones!
*I would put the towels and kids' clothes from that day in the washer and start them.
*I was not allowed to watch tv (my mom's rule) until I had done everything I could possibly find to do - whether it was already there before I arrived or not. Put fresh water in the dog bowl. Wipe down the kitchen counters. Straighten the stuff on the coffee table. Fold clean laundry.
Again, there is another perspective. It is not obvious to me that a babysitter's job description includes cleaning (even if the kids are asleep). A secretary cannot be asked to get coffee for her boss as part of her job (at least where I come from, she can't!). A nurse is supposed to be a nurse, not a cleaner or an orderly.

When we hire a high school babysitter, we don't expect her to clean, and we pay about 6 or 7 euro per hour. When we hire an older babysitter who is a nanny and cleaner for a living, we ask her to clean when DD is asleep, and we pay 10 or 11 euro an hour. We say "Are you available to clean and to look after DD on Saturday evening?" for example.

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#14 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 07:47 AM
 
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I don't expect babysitters to do anything except play with my children and keep them safe. I pay $7/hour if I'm there, $12-14 if I'm not. If my kids want to call me it's okay by me. But with the sitters I get, they're so happy playing they don't want to call me.
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#15 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 08:04 AM
 
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I think that asking her to unload your dishes and put them away is a bit much, as is doing your laundry. She may not know where everything goes as far as the dishes go and I would not want someone doing my laundry. I think that putting the dirty clothes in the hamper is not too much, though.

I agree that dishes should be put into the sink and the counters and table wiped and any crumbs swept up. I also agree that toys should be picked up, but surely your children can help with that if they are old enough to get the toys out. And some basic tidying up won't kill her either.

I say talk to her. Let her know nicely that she cannot call unless it is a real emergency. She was probably worried that she would do something to make you upset and that is why she called. Spell it out for her.
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#16 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 08:07 AM
 
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Yeah, it is so not the babysitter's job to do your dishes and laundry.

Put toys and dishes that were actually used in the sink/box? Sure. But not... folding your laundry and unloading your dishwasher. Just no.

And geez, I don't really see what the big deal is that she's asking questions, either. Better safe than sorry...

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#17 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 08:39 AM
 
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Calling you incessently was a bit much (we go by the B rule...No blood? No broken bones? Breathing? Then it's not an emergency!)

The bedtime, I'd be a little lax about that as has been stated before...I remember doing everything in my power with my babysitters. Heck, my kids have tried everything in their power with ME and didn't always get there on time.

As for cleaning...putting the dirty dishes into the sink and dirty clothes in the hamper, yes...beyond that and you should hire a housekeeper. Just my 2 cents.
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#18 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 08:59 AM
 
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Maybe your kids just mised you? I know when I was babysat, and when I was the babysitter this happened. Of course that was in the time when cell phones were not so commen, but if I knew my mom was at work, I'd want to call her there. And I think all of those reasons are legitimate. My dd takes gummy vitamins, and will often con her Nana into getting an extra one. Which is fine, but I'd much rather be called and asked first. And the bath thing, eh, kids can skip a bath. Especially if they are having fun. Same with going to bed on time. You go home an hour later, that's not too bad. It's not like it was 2am or something. DD wouldn't go to bed with anyone else, that's for sure. And for the clean up, I would expect that they toys be put away, by the KIDS, not the sitter. I certainly wouldn't be mad at the sitter if MY children had left everything out. At the end of the day around here, dd knows (and she's 2 yo) that we put things away. I help of course, but she puts her things away. Maybe have a talk with your kids about being responsible even with the sitter? And I wouldn't expect her to do dishes, laundry or dog duty unless that's what I hired (and paid)her for.
I agree that the most important thing with a sitter is keeping the kids safe. And close to that is having FUN!!! Sitters are like substitue teachers, just really there to have a fun 'off' day. As long as the kids like her and are having fun, I'd say you have a great sitter for $9 an hour!!!
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#19 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:10 AM
 
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I thought that was a rather condescending and passive-aggressive letter. It sounds like you are not happy with paying $9/hr and are taking it out on her by demanding that she be a cleaner as well. If she doesn't have a problem with cleaning, that's fine but you have to talk to her about it. She's not a mind reader and she's never been in charge of a household before. Ease up a bit and remember what it was like to be that age. Communication is the key here.

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#20 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:21 AM
 
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I was taught to clean/straighten the house as well, so I always did. Hence, my name and number got passed around a LOT because the moms I sat for LOVED it.

It didn't even occur to me, but the sitters we have now, we pay them $15 and $20 an hour (specialty autism trained sitters), and I have never even thought about them cleaning or straightening up. My primary focus has always been that ds was happy and okay. They don't do bedtime routine, because ds won't go to sleep for anyone but me or dh, so that's never an issue. If we ever do reach the point that ds is able to go to bed for someone other than us, I would not hold it against the sitter if he was still up when we got home, as I know he can be a challenge. I guess I might think differently if our situation was different, I don't know.
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#21 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:31 AM
 
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It's understandable that you expect the babysitter to pick up after herself and the kids while she's there. You cannot expect a babysitter to know that you want her to everyone else's dishes from the day, the kids' laundry, whatever clean laundry needs folding, or fill the dog's water dish. Maybe you should leave some bills on the table. I'm sure she'll get the hint and pay and mail them while you're going. Maybe leave the cleaning supplies out. Maybe she'll mop the floor.

She doesn't know she's getting $9/hour to basically be you. She probably thinks you're either really nice or really naive for paying her that much. You need to discuss what you want from your babysitter BEFORE you hire her. When I was in high school I would have been PISSED if the parents expected me to clean beyond the messes we had made, like general cleaning/dishwashing/laundry, especially if they never communicated that to me and instead got huffy and complained to the internet about me after NOT talking to me about it. This is a BABYSITTER, not a nanny or au pair. How old is she, 16 or 17? She's going to feel weird and isn't going to know where things go in the kitchen. She won't want to touch your family's clothes to fold them. She might feel weird and unsure operating your washer/dryer. Hey, she may even ruin a load of clothes. I know I would feel REALLY BAD nosing around in someone's cupboards trying to figure out where stuff goes.

Get off her back about that stuff. The calling you thing, that's understandable to be annoyed by that. I bet you haven't spoken to her about it and that's why you're venting to MDC. SPEAK TO HER ABOUT IT. She's not a mind reader. She's a kid. You're the MOM, the adult, the employer.

If all else fails, find a new babysitter.
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#22 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:39 AM
 
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Wow, I would be quite irritated to find her sitting and watching TV if there were dirty dinner dishes and toys strewn everywhere. I would never expect her to do the laundry/dishwasher/feed the dog thing, but definitely I expect my girls to clean up after themselves and the kids. Thankfully, I've not run into anyone that doesn't get that.

Of course, one of our favorite "friends" (Henry's term for his babysitters) completely reorganized my pantry and freezer (with my permission) and threw out and cleaned everything that needed it. No extra pay, she's just like that. And no, I won't share her.

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#23 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:45 AM
 
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We a teenaged girl $10/hour to babysit. I don't expect her to clean or do the dishes. When we get home the dishes are usually in the sink or on the counter near the sink & toys are pretty picked up but not entirly. I'm fine with that. She is there to watch the kids, if I expeca anything more than that I don't assume she will do it, withour being asked. I remember one of my regular babysitting jobs. I was asked to do dishes. I was cool with it, but did feel a little bad that it didn't occur to me to do them without being asked. The excessive calling & not putting hte kids down when asked needs to be discussed. Is it that they are giving her a hard time, or is it just how she is?
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#24 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 09:59 AM
 
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I wouldn't want someone to wash my kids' clothes for sure - what if she doesn't know how? What if they turn all the whites pink? Some teenagers really don't know how to turn the machine on or seperate colors or anything.

Nor unload the dishes, they don't know where anything goes and I HATE having to look around for the chef knife, then the cutting board, then where's the measuring cup, now where did she put the serving spoon, etc.

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#25 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 11:02 AM
 
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I was so underpaid when I babysat. I watched a family with four kids when I was 12 (17 years ago). When the youngest came into the picture I started watching her when she was two weeks old. I would NEVER let a 12 year old stay alone for hours with a newborn, but apparently I was dependable because I sat for multiple families. Back then, for some reason, the going rate was about $2 no matter how many kids were in the family.
Even when I was 19 and still babysitting (even full-time) I was still only getting $2 an hour for the first child and $1 per child after that. It was really hard to get parents to pay me more after having another child. The one home I worked in full-time I did cleaning, straightening, organizing, and lots of extras every day even though the mother didn't expect it. I even made dinner for them a couple times that was ready when they got home.
I later decided that I would mention the housework from the getgo and hopefully get extra. I worked in one home about 45 hours a week for three kids, and got $200 a week, no matter if the family went on vacation or took a sick day. I cleaned the entire house thoroughly once a week and made sure the toys were picked up, and kitchen was cleaned up every day.
At the same time my aunt starting working as a nanny/housekeeper for a rich family with three kids and made $450 a week, plus a $500 bonus for christmas.
I do know that it's hard to get kids in bed on time if:

#1 The parents don't discipline them much because they won't listen to the sitter either

#2 If you are new and the kids don't know you well

#3 You don't think ahead and plan extra time for the bed time routine.

As for that I think you should give your sitter a head's up about what your kid's routine is and how long it takes you to get them in bed, and how you handle the kids stalling.
I also agree that you should make sure you make a list of what you expect done. If the sitter doesn't comply you should let her know that your pay rate is going down unless she does.
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#26 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 11:38 AM
 
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as a teenage sitter (and now as an adult sitter, lol), i would never expect to clean the house, do laundry all that stuff, but the dirty dishes were at least put in the sink, if not washed by hand, dirty clothes were in the hamper if i could find one, if not, i would lay them on the dresser or something, and toys were picked up. if it was one of those crazy times where toys didnt get picked up, i always did (and do) pick them up after the parents got home

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#27 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 11:52 AM
 
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I would much rather come home to a messy house with evidence that the kids played had a good time, and were better fed than yours were, than to a clean house with the kids in bed and wonder if the sitter had any time to interact with my children between the housework she was doing.
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#28 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 12:01 PM
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My daughter babysits now, for between $5 and $10 an hour ($5 for my single mom friend's one sweet 9 year old, $10 for 3 kids from 2 families). Usually she cleans up any toys that they got out, and washes any dishes they used. When she watches 9 year old his friend from next door often comes over (she watches him when the kids have no school mostly, because his mom generally still has classes and work), so she gets everything spotless and reads or knits for a good bit of the time, because the boys are happy together, and they mostly just need her to fix snacks and take them to the playground and be there in case they need anything.

On the other hand, with the 3 kids from 2 families, getting them to bed was really tough and took over an hour (including such moments as the 3 year old who was spending the night but didn't live there announcing that she was hungry and wanted "something she'd never eaten before," which Rain managed to provide) and after they finally were all asleep, I think Rain put the dishes in the sink and flopped down on the sofa and watched tv and swore she would never have children. Not really... she likes all of the kids still, but that was a rough night.

I do think the calling was too much, but then some parents want to be called, so really it comes down to communication with your sitter. Let her know your expectations.

Dar

 
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#29 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 12:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amitymama View Post
I thought that was a rather condescending and passive-aggressive letter. It sounds like you are not happy with paying $9/hr and are taking it out on her by demanding that she be a cleaner as well. If she doesn't have a problem with cleaning, that's fine but you have to talk to her about it. She's not a mind reader and she's never been in charge of a household before. Ease up a bit and remember what it was like to be that age. Communication is the key here.
I took the letter as intending to be a rant and not so much a letter a person would actually send. So, condescending and passive-aggressive fit right in with a rant.

I agree she shouldn't have to do any housework other than cleaning up after whatever she fed the children, and putting their clothes in the hamper when she changes them for bed, and putting away what they played with.

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To whomever said she was chased around with a knife.....

I babysat a boy who was a pyromaniac. Their previous home had been destroyed in a fire he caused. The whole time I was there, he ran around grabbing things that could light a fire (matches, lighters) and I was constantly chasing him and taking them away. He knew where they all were kept. And why does a family need to keep so many matches and lighters in so many different places in the house!?!?!?

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While I wouldn't expect a baby sitter to feed/water my pet as a routine thing, if for some reason I had neglected it, and my cat was standing by her empty water bowl meowing, I would hope the baby sitter wouldn't ignore it.

Also, if the pet seemed to be in crisis (ie. suddenly injured or sick) I would hope the baby sitter would call me, even though the pet is technically not who she is watching.

Leigh, mama to Rostislav homeborn Aug 9 2007, and Oksana homeborn Feb 24 2011.
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#30 of 117 Old 06-08-2007, 01:41 PM
 
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It sounds like the kids were really testing her and she was having a hard time, and perhaps thought she would get support from you if they could talk to you on the phone. I remember testing the heck out of our sitters. It can be really hard when you are so young to find the place between being friendly and playful and being firm. Especially if you have never had kids of your own.

Or it could be that they were nervous with a new sitter and just needed to hear your voice - and that's why they kept coming up with excuses to call? How long has she been sitting for them?

Heh I know alot of parents that have an impossible time getting kids to bed on time. I don't think I would blame the sitter just yet until I better understood how the dynamics were.

Honestly... I wouldn't be angry with the sitter just yet. I wouldn't expect her to know these things. Every parent is different. If our DD wanted to call me at any time for any reason, I would hope the sitter would let her. I hope the sitter would NEVER tell my child they could not call me.

As for the dishes, I would much rather the sitter be playing with the kids than cleaning. I would be mighty suspicious if I came home and the house was TOO clean.
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