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Although I am not a mom yet, I have started to think hard about the P.E.T.B. Yup, that’s “People for the Ethical Treatment of Baby-sitters.”
While having dinner with Little Sis last night, we swapped horror stories of our baby-sitting days. I had almost forgotten how stupid, cheap, and moronic some parents are! How they pay crap money and expect baby-sitters to be housekeepers and maids — as well as watch their kids.
Little Sis once babysat for a family who asked her to “just do up those dinner dishes” — the job began at night, long after dinner was over — and “whip up a batch of Rice Krispie treats for the kids’ school bake sale tomorrow.”
At the time, Little Sis was 12, and had never made anything more complicated than a salad.
She had to call our mom and get her to walk her through it, over the phone. Hell, I still do not know how to make Rice Krispie treats. It has always looked kind of hard.
Wait — it gets worse …
When I was 12, I babysat for a family with two older kids and a baby. Three things were very wrong with the situation:
- I did not know the baby’s name — and didn’t figure it out until months later.
- I had zero experience with babies, but they family didn’t ask (or realize).
- I mean zero experience. I didn’t realize I had to hold her head!
How did this happen? Well, the mom was a total flake. She did not tell me the kids’ names, among other things. I figured out the older kids’ names, because they talked to each other, but I could not figure out the baby’s name, and was afraid to ask. They all just cooed at her, and never used her real name.
I hadn’t been around any babies, really, except my 10-month-old cousin. So of course, I scooped up this baby — who was maybe six months, but I have no idea — and placed her on my hip, like I did with my cousin. And then … her head kind of tilted backward — eek! I quickly realized my mistake, and readjusted her, but was convinced I broke her for life. I didn’t.
I think my Mom truly grasped the importance of a good parent/baby-sitter relationship, with our beloved sitter, V. She paid very well — always important — she never asked her to clean up or cook anything more complicated than frozen fries, and she made sure to provide a rented movie or something else to keep us happy. In return, V was available when Mom needed her, she had fun with us, and we absolutely adored her.
I understand that getting a good sitter — one that you trust, one that is available, one that your kids actually like — can be war, so …
REMINDER TO SELF:
- Pay baby-sitter well. I used to make $3/hour when I was 12 … What would be the going rate now? $10/hour? Eep. But just think of the alternative: not going out at all. Very worth the money.
- Do not ask baby-sitter to clean. You want him/her watching your kid(s), not hunched over the sink. Also, leave house in reasonable shape so he/he does not feel compelled to tidy up. Not his/her job.
- Do not ask baby-sitter to prepare anything complicated. Leave frozen pizza, snacks, or anything else that is easy and the kid(s) will eat without a fuss. Do not, under any circumstances, ask baby-sitter to feed kid(s) hated vegetables.
- Bribe kid(s) to make sure they are good for sitter. Rent a movie, provide treats — anything to ensure they will be in good moods. No sitter likes a bratty kid, and tantrums might cause baby-sitter to be “busy” the next time you call.
- Be home when you say you will be home. I hated when parents were hours late getting back. I’d sit on the couch, exhausted, hoping that maybe they would over-pay because they were so late. It never happened, so then I would just leave feeling (secretly) mad. Stupid parents.