Need a sitter? Save time! Call …

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 …
  • 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.

3 Comments on “Need a sitter? Save time! Call …

  1. I mostly babysat for family when I was growing up. Sometimes that meant being paid less than what was fair and sometimes it meant being paid more. If calling on family members to babysit (especially when you want it done for free) you should try to give as much notice as possible and, like you said, provide entertainment and treats.


  2. Oh, that's a great point about sitting for family members! Darling Husband and I used to get roped into that a lot. Yes, lots of notice and lots of treats for those hard-working, unpaid family-member baby-sitters!


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