What I As A Nanny Provider and As A Parent Expect From A Sitter
2 Perspectives Combined
I have been a parent for 14 years and at sometime or other during those years a nanny to other people's children. What I have come to learn is that your expectations when leaving your child with another person should be high. You as a parent will work more hours then you can ever imagine, so when that nanny or sitter comes to watch your kids you want to make sure that they are a cohesive fit for your family. Your nanny/ babysitter should bring to the table an understanding of your needs and the ability to meet those needs along with the ability to make the children smile. Not only have the families I worked with realized they were getting more than the average babysitter, but I have had other people offer me jobs while I was still working for another family. These are the most important people in your lives and if you find that person who can meet those expectations then you will have to pay them well if you expect to keep them for the long haul.
As you have never met me you will not know that I am the the kind of mother who knows too much of their kids business. I have spent almost every waking moment with my children from the time they were born till the time I got divorced. If I was not able to be with them then they were with family. If they were not with family then they were with other parents that I had met several times before I allowed my child to stay with them. My children only had a sitter twice in their whole entire life. The person I chose was a young teenage girl scout who had been through the babysitting class and her parents were home the whole entire night. They were also really good friends of mine. So even though I left them with her I was essentially leaving them with her parents. I called in and checked in all the time probably making the poor teenage girl neurotic. Can you say overprotective? I have come to understand that I am a babysitters worse nightmare in the beginning, but once you get past the first few jobs I lighten up.
Here is what I know you want in a babysitter/caregiver:
Ratio of Kids to Hands: Depending on years of experience two kids per hand is a good motto normally unless the person is not really comfortable with that four kids or they are just starting out then it should be no more than one kid per hand. There are people that will do more than four children at a time, but I say unless you are watching a bunch of 10-18 year old people you cannot give the necessary attention to all of those children. You may be thinking, I am saying something about how many kids people should have. NO NO. Parents are with their children day in and day out and they know their children better than anyone. They know the creaks of their house and they know their environment. They also know what their children can get away with when their backs are turned.They have home court advantage and therefore know how long they can be disengaged or what sounds of trouble are. You are a visitor. You do not know their children, their house, and you do not have a full grasp of all their kids needs on any given day so keep it to a minimum till you have experience under your belt. Minimum is not a bad thing either because it gives you a chance to really get to know the children and form a bond. Bonding is important because no parent wants to hear their child crying as they leave, but almost every child does. One of my kids I watched was in love with the park , but he would cry the minute I showed up. I would just say I thought you liked the park and this would make him forget all about his mom leaving and he would start following me around. Knowing your charges likes comes in handy when this occurs and with multiple kids unless they all like the park it's a little trickier.
Interaction: A babysitter or caregiver should interact with the kids they are watching as much as possible. If you are on the floor playing with the children how likely are they to choke on a toy or get into things that they are not supposed to be into? The answer is not likely because you are right there to see the pitfalls before they come. Interaction is your friend. It helps the kids get used to you so you will be welcomed back. If the kids have a good time with you and you don't do anything to offend the parents they will want you back. If you do it right you will tire the kids out so that by the time their bed time rolls around they want to sleep and not keep popping out of their room. Do some crafts, read some books, play games and if it is daytime play outside with the kids and have a plan of activities. Sometimes I play songs and we dance, other times we act like animals hopping and making animal sounds. The other thing about interaction is this: the parents did not put an ad up asking for someone to come watch their tv or eat their food. They asked for someone to watch their kids. So play with their kids, take them to the park, talk to them about kid shows you can watch together. You were a child once remember what you liked both good and bad. Minimal accidents and mistakes will happen if you are watching and playing with the kids and the bad things you were drawn to can be forewarning of what to look out for with other people's kids.
Reliable: When you tell them that you will be there be there. if you think you might be late then let them know in as much advance as you can. Come up with an alternate plan. And when the kids are eating or going to be in bed pick up the messes around the house. I always take the opportunity while the kids are eating to do a five minute cleanup. Little messes as you go are easier to clean up then big ones. After dinner we had an hour and I knew that they would pull out more toys to play with, but If I had already put away the toys then I had fewer toys to put away when they went to bed. As the babysitter yes it is your job to put the toys away. You were the last one in the room when they played with them. You should always pick up and leave it better than you found it. If you are responsible for feeding he kids make sure you give them a balanced meal. If you fed the kids then clean up afterwards and put things away. It takes five minutes to do some extra dishes, and it will forever look good in the parents eyes. This is good job security. Take a babysitting class if you're young and have never babysat. Have a plan of attack for things that could happen while the parents are gone. They have these sheets that you can write all the vital information on. Thinking ahead shows the parents your reliable and if you are prepared you are less likely to have an issue.
Stick to their Schedule: Ask the parents how they usually run things. Then follow that schedule. Parents want simple. They want you to not uproot their everyday lives and change uproots things so follow their schedule. If six is dinner and seven is bath when they are home then that's how it is in your care. This not only shows the children that your an extension of their parents and the rules need to be followed, but it also makes it less likely that they will try to get one over on you. In young kids stability is important so following the schedule of their parents will also give them some comfort those few times they are with you because you are still a stranger in their eyes. In the times I have watched other people's kids the time with me has mirrored their time with their parents schedule wise so I have rarely had any surprises and have not let the parents down. If you deviate you are likely to have parents coming home early, kids out of bed, and the parents looking at you like what is going on here.
Common Sense and Safety: You want the kids to have fun. Keep it simple and smart and you will be off to a good start. Change diapers quickly so diaper rash does not form. Stay with the children at all times in the bathtub. Keep gates up that lead to stairs. You get the drill. You do not have to break the rules to do it. If jumping on the furniture doesn't sound like a good idea at your house it is not a good idea at their house. Keep the same rules the parents follow and find out what method of discipline they use. Being silly can get you more fun points then if the child falls and hits his head. Play to your strengths. If you can do crafts like nobodies business then do it. Even if you can't there are alot of craft ideas on the internet.If reading is your specialty then have story time and dress the kids up in character or do a puppet show.
In the end be in the moment. Let the parents know hey I am here and I will take care of it in a confident manner. They won't linger and the kids will stop fussing almost immediately. Be happy to see the kids and get into a conversation with them. Kids can tell if you are being real and they want to like you so be down to earth and likable. Most importantly though treat these kids like you would want your own children treated and you will do fine. The kids you babysit will love you for it and so will their parents. At the end of the day the job well done and a child's hug is more fulfilling then anything else, but if you do it right you could be earning a good $10-15 an hour maybe more so put the time in for the pay.