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Rules for babysitter

1834 Views 24 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  Purple*Lotus
DH and I work opposite schedules so we don't use a sitter often. We really only have one. She's babysat our friends kids for a few years and they love her. Our DD is 10mos. We've told her from day 1 that we don't let DD watch TV because of how trance like she instantly becomes. It's scary. Plus, my brother is a pediatric neurologist and he's always telling me about the harm TV does to a baby. Anyway, the time before last she was watching Weeds when DH picked up DD. DD was sleeping in the same room but the volume was up and well, Weeds has some pretty foul language. The next time she sat I reminded her (very politely) that we don't want DD watching TV. I suggested that if she wanted to watch TV while DD is sleeping then just please keep the volume low and/or use closed captioning. She seemed just fine with it but then when I picked up DD MTV was on. She mentioned that DD fell alseep in her arms while they were watching TV

I've been looking for a new sitter but a lot of people mentioned that they've had the same problems with sitters ignoring the no tv rule. Why is it too much to ask that someone interact with my baby without the TV if I'm paying someone $10/hr to watch her especially if it's only 3-4 hours at a time. Surely they can go that long without the TV...but I guess not. I'd be less strict about it if DD was older and was watching cartoons. But Weeds and MTV? Am I expecting too much from sitters?

Or am I making too big of a deal about this since we don't need a sitter much. It's usually about 2 or 3 days a month for about 4 hours each time.
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I'd disconnect the TV/ hide the remote to ensure nothing is being watched. Problem solved, sort of. I'd speak to your sitter again about your rules/ expectations.

Originally Posted by 4Jet View Post
I'd disconnect the TV/ hide the remote to ensure nothing is being watched. Problem solved, sort of. I'd speak to your sitter again about your rules/ expectations.
Yep, that would take care of it ASAP
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I don't think you're expecting too much. I"d be very upset if my child were exposed to MTV or Weeds, esp after you requested no tv. IMO for her to ignore that is irresponsible and I"d find another sitter.

Originally Posted by 4Jet View Post
I'd disconnect the TV/ hide the remote to ensure nothing is being watched.
I'm getting the impression that the sitter is doing it at her house, not at the OPs (because of references to picking up their DD).
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K, can make all the rules you want, but in the grand scheme I think this is a pretty small thing. She's safe, fed, entertained, put to sleep, and obviously held and loved.

Guess my perspective is quite different from most here, as I have absolutely no choice but to leave my 5 y.o. son with a sitter every week so I can get my Masters degree to make a better life for us. Safe+fed+happy=I don't stress about 1x a week someone doing things slightly differently than I would. Just my .02, especially for a child under a year old.
I think you will have better success getting someone to do things your way if you have them watch your daughter in your home. Also, when you watch a child infrequently, sometimes it is not that big of a deal to have a little less money and that time back if the parents don't like what you are doing. If you were having someone over more frequently or having them in your home where you can control the tv you would probably find that the sitter makes a lot more effort to do things your way rather than hers.
I also use a babysitter, though even more rarely than you. Maybe 5-10 times per year. My rules are basically: spend time with them, try to make sure they eat something, try to get them to bed around their bedtime (a half hour one way or the other is no harm, but three hours later means exhausted grumpy kids the next day.) If they drink soda instead of milk for dinner, or they don't get their teeth brushed, or they watch more TV than they should... I don't worry; it is only one evening in their life. However, if I had a babysitter on a much more regular basis, then I would probably have some firmer rules.

Random thoughts:
Depends - if you have few rules, and no TV is one of them, then I think the babysitter should have gotten the message. If no TV is just one of a ton of other rules, then I think you should prioritize your rules and let some things go.

I'm not too worried about tv, both my DCs watch. However, you have politely told her twice not to watch TV, so I would think the babysitter could listen to that.

On the other hand, I agree with the others, her house, (sort of) her rules, your house, your rules.

If you like her, and the kids like her, I'd give her one more try, but with a clear message that the TV is NOT OK with you. Then the ball is in your court. If it is a huge issue, and this babysitter is not flexible, then time for you to find a new babysitter. If it is a minor issue, then let it slide.
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. It's given me something to think about. Yes, she actually sits for us at a friend's house. She's sat for these friends for several years and the friend has been kind enough to let us use their house whenever we want for babysitting. The sitter is in college and still living with her parents so that's why we use the friends house. We live in a rural area and haven't been able to find a sitter near us so that we can use our house. We started looking for a sitter since before we concieved because we knew it'd be hard to find someone local to us. So, this sitter is in the city which is okay since we both work in the city anyway.

We really don't have any other rules. DD is only 10 months old so it's basically feed her, change her diaper and no TV which implies that she'll have to entertain and play with her a bit. I wouldn't mind so much if the TV programs were soap operas, sit coms, cartoons, talk shows or other things of that nature. But Weeds and MTV have language and music that I don't think such a young baby should be exposed to. I've been asking around at work and it seems many people have the same problem as we do. It just kind of baffles me that people who are getting paid to watch someone's kids would completely ignore a no TV rule. It's like it's too much to ask that a person turn off the tube for a few hours...kinda sad actually. Anyway, I'll continue to look for a new sitter and try not to get too worked up about this. Aside from the TV thing we actually have a pretty good setup... well, except for the separation anxiety issue of course.
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As someone who babysat from age 11 until right before I was married at 24, on a very regular basis, I think there is no reason why she shouldn't be able to follow your rule regarding TV. I sat for several families that had that rule, and even if they didn't, I rarely turned the tv on, because I felt it was a cop out; I was getting paid to watch the kids, so I should do my job, and not have the tv do that for me

That said, I think she probably has to have some clue that you are about to head in the door, hear the car pull up, door knob jiggle, something. If she was interested in following the rule, she'd change the channel or turn the tv off in a hurry.

All that said, perhaps you can find a compromise, I did find TV was often a way to get kids to unwind after an active day, but this was at a much older age, maybe you could say, IF you are going to, or want to watch TV with DD, please watch something without bad language, violence, etc. Not necessarily a cartoon, but something more family friendly or educational. Just because the baby's asleep, doesn't mean some of that doesn't get in her head. (I know I have dreams about stuff that I'm listening to - it is kind of freaky)

Even if you eventually have to go with a different sitter, sometimes a compromise is not a bad thing, but I don't think a no TV rule is that uncommon, or difficult to follow. FWIW; I didn't ever babysit in very "crunchy" areas; my dad was a Marine, so it was always other children of Marines that I watched, and other than one or two families, they weren't very AP; they just didn't like their kids watching excessive TV.
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Can you just remind her without beating around the bush that you don't want your DD watching TV? Is it possible that your reminders have thus far been innuendos?

As long as you don't suspect this infraction to be indicative of a bigger issue, I'd let it slide. I hate my DD being around the TV, but I'd be more concerned about using a new sitter who I didn't know as well.
Maybe I'm sensitve about this, but the shows you mentioned, IMO are not appropriate shows to be watching in front of young children - *especially if said children are not yours* and this shouldn't be something you would have to tell someone who is caring for children. Personally, it kind of makes me wonder what else she is clueless about.
she was watching Weeds when DH picked up DD. DD was sleeping in the same room but the volume was up and...
The baby was sleeping, I doubt she was learning bad words, and she wasn't zoned out in front of the tv. If I was babysitting and was reprimanded for watching tv while a baby slept in the same room (and was sleeping through the sound), then I wouldn't be babysitting for that family any more. The baby was NOT watching tv. The sitter WAS following the rule in this instance.
I would make it clear that you don't want *her* watching tv. I think that's fair, but she doesnt know that.
I only have a regular sitter in the summer time. But I have also encountered this problem. I agree that it's not an unreasonable rule and it may be best to look for another sitter. But one other suggestion is to maybe make a list of alternative things the sitter could do with your kid. I found I have better luck if I make concrete suggestions about where to go and what to do. i.e. there's a really nice play ground and here's how you get there, there is a program at the library and it starts at 10, the kids really like building forts with the furniture cushions, etc. etc. Sometimes I think the sitters would do other things with the kids they just don't know what the options are and are not motivated to look for fun activities.
And what is the sitter to do in someone else's house while the baby is sleeping? Honestly, watching tv seems pretty reasonable to me.
I don't think watching TV while baby is sleeping is unreasonable; but I still think she could find something better to watch than Weeds or MTV. in the second instance, the baby sitter said the baby fell asleep while "THEY" were watching TV.

Since it is not the babysitter's or the parents' house, there might not be anywhere else for the baby to go than in the room with the babysitter, and I get that. But if that is your rule, no TV, and she can't or won't follow it, time for a new sitter. Granted, good sitters are not easy to find, but once found they are wonderful to have
I can easily see how watching TV while the baby slept seemed perfectly OK to the sitter. And honestly, given that that is a preverbal infant, I would have to say that worrying about a sleeping baby picking up bad language through TV is pretty far fetched IMHO. MTV -- same thing, even if the baby is awake. Heck, even I can't pick out 1/2 the words when I'm trying, I think it will be a wave of sound to the baby. Its not like she's parking the baby in a swing in front of Baby Einstein and chatting on her cell phone while doing her nails. Personally, I think you are over-reacting a bit. That said, if your child were older I would probably lay out clearer expectations on what was acceptible or not.

Looking at this from the sitters perspective, I am wondering the following -- are there age-appropriate toys and such for the baby at this location? Have you you shown her games and interactive activities that your baby likes? Once the baby is asleep, exactly what do you expect her to do given that she isn't in her home? Would you be happier if she were talking on the phone? Playing on the computer in another room? Not everyone is going to want to read a book, though that would probably be my personal answer.
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