When you walk out your door don’t think that you are leaving your children with someone that isn’t worried about your children. They may not worry as much as you do but, believe me, babysitters and nannies worry constantly about your children. Some of the biggest frustrations that caregivers have are that they have to be a little more strict because they feel responsible for the safety of your children while they are in their care. Babysitters also worry about your home because we don’t know if your children are allowed to use furniture as jungle gyms or bouncy castles. So to pare it down we’ve broken down our most common worries when we have your children.
- Your child’s safety. This is the most common worry caregivers have. We do know when things are gated in the home that those are safety issues for your family but crossing streets, playing at neighbors homes, playing at the playground, going for bike rides, etc can give a babysitter gray hair even if they are only in their 20s. When a child says mom and dad lets us there’s a good chance the babysitter isn’t comfortable, and they won’t let your child do the activity. Babysitters aren’t familiar with your child’s skill level when it comes to certain activities, and they would rather error on the safe side.
- Your child’s entertainment. What does your child like to do? What can they do and or plan to do before they get to your home to take care of the kids? If they take them for a “field trip” what would be appropriate, will they be safe (safety is the #1 worry no matter what)? This is one of the worries that don’t seem like a big one but it is. Babysitters are there for several hours with your children so their entertainment and enjoyment is very important to your caregiver. If you have a babysitter worth their salt a child’s entertainment is very important. Activities helps the time pass quickly, and the kids are happy. A happy child is a happy experience for everyone involved.
- Your home. What do you allow in your home? Kids will tell babysitters all kinds of things that are “ok” for them to do that you would NEVER let them do if you were home. My mom was fairly strict when it came to her home. The living room and her bedroom were off limits no matter what. Furniture was never ever used for the purpose other than what it was designed for; i.e. sitting, laying etc. We were never allowed to jump on the beds or any furniture. Since that is what I was raised with when I enter a home where these types of rules aren’t in place I’m not sure whether or not the child is telling me the truth about parents allowing them to jump on the furniture etc. Trust me when I say children will tell a babysitter all kinds of things that is allowable by their parents that are so obvious we KNOW aren’t true. For example I had a child tell me that their mom and dad allowed them to use a hammer and nail to put up a Lego building to the wall…..awe geez!
- The pet child combo. You know your pets and you know your children. A babysitter, especially if it’s their first time in your home, does not. Caregivers don’t know if your pets have triggers that may make the pet react in a harmful way. Does the pet need to be kept away from children, the baby, strangers, or just kept outside? Babysitters don’t know the dynamic between your pets and children. Of course fish we don’t really worry about unless the children say it’s okay for them to play with the fish or that they need to be fed. Fish, from my limited knowledge, shouldn’t be overfed so I never let the kids feed the fish in the fish tank. Things that parents take for granted a caregiver can’t.
- Last but NOT least stroller and car seat safety. I can’t tell you how many and varied strollers and car seats are out there. I have struggled and struggled to get a stroller open so I could take children for walks. Sometimes they don’t open easily, don’t close easily, don’t have a break that is obvious. Sometimes I will forego a stroller all together and choose to go on a shorter walk. I’ve had strollers that I thought were locked open collapse unexpectedly. Car seats are a horrible worry for babysitters if the parents don’t install them into their car. Car seats can tip over, move when there is a turn because they are installed incorrectly. The instructions on the side or under the car seat aren’t always that helpful especially if they are pictures.
So, now you know what babysitters worry about the most when they watch your children. This may offer some insight into why children sometimes believe a babysitter is too strict. An excellent babysitter will have concerns and will be hyper aware of your child’s safety, and your home. That may not translate into a babysitter the kids won’t complain about but it doesn’t mean they aren’t great babysitters. It takes a fine balance of worry and fun that makes a great caregiver.