Babysitting Grievances

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetA few weeks back Isaac and I went out with friends and left the Bodenettes home with a new babysitter. It was their first time meeting her and were pretty uneasy. After a few failed attempts at convincing them of the babysitter’s niceness, we finally bribed them with a movie and were able to scoot out the door. All went well, of course. We got to have a fun dinner out. The kids got to watch Swiss Family Robinson and go to bed on their own terms, I’m sure. Win win. Well, except for the part where we have to pay someone $60 to watch Swiss Family Robinson and make sure the house doesn’t burn down.

Recently we were airing our babysitting grievances over dinner with friends over dinner. You know, the usual parent chit chat. My friend has a babysitter who falls asleep on her couch, which is totally fine, but then requires tapping, shoulder shaking and “wake up, wake up” chants to be awoken. And then another 10 minutes of eye rubbing and stretching before getting out the door. I find this hilarious and wish it was on video. Really, I have one pet peeve when it comes to babysitting. I want to come home to a clean kitchen. Dishes should be done. Countertop should be clean. Kitchen should be in better shape than I left it. Is that too much to ask? Really? I mean, I have been on the other side of the babysitting occasion many times and I would never ever ever leave so much as one dirty fork in the sink.

In my teens and mid twenties, before settling into a career, I did a fair amount of babysitting. Given the right kiddos, it was an easy (and sometimes fun) way to pocket some cash. Most of my babysitting gigs came via referral – us mama’s love to spread the word about good babysitters. And each time I babysat for a new family, I inevitably spent much of the time fumbling around looking for diapers, toys, blankies, etc. While babysitting is pretty straightforward – 1) keep kids safe and reasonably happy, 2) leave house cleaner than you found it, and 3) read all magazines in sight. On occasion however, a kid would throw a curve ball and things could get tricky.

There was this new family scenario that I will never forget – it was my first time babysitting for this adorable little girl who was just under two years old. The mom was super sweet and the older brother was a cutie. (I’m sure the dad was great too, but I never met him face to face.) So, on this particular occasion, the mom and her little son went on an outing and I stayed back with the little girl.

We went for a walk, played at the park, had some lunch and then it was nap time. NAP TIME, y’all! Yeah, that was always the best part of babysitting – free money for sitting on a comfortable couch thumbing through magazines. This house had an amazing stack of fashion mags and I was super jazzed to put that little babe to bed and kick up my feet. So, we headed up to her room and got her all settled into her crib for bed. I started to leave the room and things took a turn… the little one lost it. She began to cry and plead for something. I couldn’t quite understand her, she was still so little. I tried rocking, singing, rocking, swinging, marching, bottle, blankie, etc. Nothing worked and she continued to get more and more upset until she was quite literally screaming at me. This went on and on and I finally had to call for backup.

Maybe I was missing something? I tried calling the mom, but didn’t answer. I called again. No answer. At this point, I was getting flustered by the screaming and resorted to calling the dad. (Aside: in the babysitting world, you don’t really ever call the dad, especially if you had never met him.) Well, he answered and the conversation went something like this:

Me: Hi [kid's dad]. It's Natalie, the babysitter who is watching your daughter.
The Dad: Oh, hi. Is everything okay?
Me: Sort of. Your daughter is fine, but she is very upset and I'm having a hard time calming her down. I tried calling your wife but I couldn't get ahold of her.
The Dad: Ok. Why is she so upset?
Me: I put her down for a nap and as soon as she got in her crib she started to cry. I tried everything but she just keeps crying. She seems to be asking for something.
The Dad: What's she asking for.

Me: I'm not sure. She just keeps crying, "Pussy. Pussy. Pussy."

The Dad: [Long pause] Do you think she could actually be saying, "Paci"?
Me: [Cringe and die] Oh, right. Paci, like pacifier. Okay, thanks. Bye. So sorry.

And then I died of embarrassment. Because I had just called some man I didn’t know in the middle of his business-man workday to tell him his sweet, not even 2 year old daughter, was inconsolably crying, “Pussy”. And, I cannot even claim tweenage innocence – I was a married woman in her mid twenties who knew full well the connotation. What the heck was I thinking?

So, I never did get around to reading those fashion mags. I think I just sat straight up and stared into space until the mom and son came home… at which point I apologized ten times and ran out of the house. But, I assure you the dishes were done and the kitchen was spotless.

What about you? Have you any babysitting grievances?

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  • Reply
    05/04/2015 at 5:02 pm

    Haha, omg, that’s hilarious, I would have died! I thought that was a rule, always, always, always clean the kitchen!!

  • Reply
    Jana Thune
    05/04/2015 at 9:22 pm

    My heart goes out to you, Natalie for this virgin voyge in babysitting!
    So hysterical though!!!

  • Reply
    05/04/2015 at 10:32 pm

    HA!!! This is such a funny story! But yes, I agree, when I come home to a very messy house, I’m annoyed. Most sitters don’t seem to clean up, which I hate, because my kids are often sleeping when they’re here which means they have time, and I’m paying them. Sometimes I’m not brave enough to lay down expectations ahead of time, but when I ask for the toys to be picked up and the kitchen to be clean then I always return home happier.

    • Reply
      05/04/2015 at 10:38 pm

      Yeah, I need to be more specific about my expectations. I guess I think it’s just so darn obvious. WASH THE DISHES!!

  • Reply
    05/05/2015 at 7:09 am

    Hilarious story! Paci!
    I would say that any expectations, even seemingly obvious ones, should always be shared ahead of time with babysitters, having spent my fair share of time babysitting as well. What may be “obvious” to some will not be to others (I’m thinking of Myers Briggs Js and Ps at the moment, haha), and some sitters tend to have an established (but not necessarily logical) division in their mind between what they are being paid for and what they aren’t.
    But omg, I would be soooo embarrassed to have to be shaken to wake up while on the job, haha!

  • Reply
    05/05/2015 at 5:53 pm

    Loved the story! I remember those days when I babysit the neighbors kids.
    Their whole house (including kitchen) clean… Kids in bed and me 3 dollars richer. But he… that was a whole other era!

  • Reply
    05/05/2015 at 10:12 pm

    What a great laugh about the paci!
    Sounds like you need to let the babysitters know what you expect as far as cleaning your home. Keeping it ‘tidy’ would definitely be appreciated especially when there is down time while the kids sleep. But ones interpretation of expectations is most likely different from another’s.

  • Reply
    05/09/2015 at 1:28 pm

    Haha that is great. As a babysitter myself, I think that definitely irresponsible of them. I have a few regular families right now. The only one I don’t do any kind of cleaning for is because she has a regular maid. I babysit for my cousin who has two kids and still I fold laundry, take the trash out, wash the dishes. I only don’t vacuum because the kids are usually asleep at night. Anyways, good luck on finding better babysitters!

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