Memo to My 19 Year-Old, Babysitting Self

I know you’ve really been enjoying babysitting this summer, and not only for the $20 an hour you earn as a college student babysitter in a resort town. (For the record, 20 years later, $20 an hour is STILL a lot of money for babysitting.) You actually enjoy children, maybe even want to have a few some day. You will, and when you do, you may find yourself looking for a trustworthy babysitter.  But back to you, my 19 year-old self: I have a few words of advice about those babysitting jobs.

First, all parents want their child to have “a really fun time,” but they also don’t want to come back to find their house (rental or not) looks like its been ransacked by a band a marauding pre-schoolers.  Cajole the kids into helping you pack up the 20 puzzles you've done together, put the dishes in the dishwasher, put the markers away, legos in the lego box. Parents are not expecting you clean up after them – only that you leave the house habitable and its not that hard. In the distant future, you will find yourself doing these things on a regular basis.

Second, if the mother mentions that her 3 year-old seems “a bit crabby today,” nod politely and hope he hasn’t tuned into evil-child incarnate.  Don’t chime in with commentary about how he screamed for 2 hours and tried to head-butt his baby sister the last time you were there. Chances are, she’s merely trying to acknowledge that her child is not uniformly delightful; she is not inviting critiques. 

Finally, if the parents seem a bit tipsy when they come home, they are. Just take your payment and get out of there. Don’t let them embarrass themselves. They’re like 40 or something, after all.  And you will be too, before you know it.  

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How did the current generation of sitters ever NOT learn to clean up a house? The parents of today's teens and 20-somethings have raised a generation of entitled, spoiled brats. Their approach seems to be as long as these kids do well it school it doesn't matter if they know how to behave. Excellent piece. Keep up the good work.

Elizabeth Baxter Butcher said...

Dear Anonymous, Thank you for your kind words. Point taken. The sitter who leaves one's house tidier than she found it seems to be the exception these days. Hopefully the Manners for Modern Mothers movement can help change that. Thanks for reading.

Elizabeth Hammond Pyle said...

Yes, thank you for reading and for your support!

I know that clean up is a big issue for many parents, which is why I'm a bit aghast when I remember my times as a babysitter. I have no idea if I cleaned up of not. I certainly had no idea it was important to any one. Its also why I am so appreciative of the many great sitters we've had (and have) who do clean up!

LPC said...

And just remember, babysitters, if we like you, we'll be "rounding up" your payment at the end of the night. Out of sheer relief and gratitude:). Or so I remember doing many a time.

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