You have a bratty kid? Ever wonder if the babysitters keeping anything from you when you leave to go out to a movie or dinner? See what some part and full-time babysitters say behind your back.
1. Your House Grosses Her Out
Nobody expects a house with kids running around in it to be pristine, but it shouldn't be downright grody. That leaves a conscientious sitter feeling like she has to scrub down the kitchen before she feeds your kids or take a time-out to tend to a germ pit of a toilet. "I once had to give a 4-year-old a bath, and the entire area was orange with soap scum and mildew," says a sitter in Chicago.
2. She's Scared to Approach You About Money
When you work for a corporation, requesting a raise is nothing personal. But babysitters -- especially the full-time kind -- often have more intimate knowledge of their employer's financial situations, which can make broaching the topic particularly nerve-wracking. Many sitters say they have never been offered a raise, even after years of working for the same family, and that they usually stop accepting work from a family rather than ask for more money. If you're wondering what your next-door neighbor is paying your sitter, rates average $10 to $18 an hour.
3. She Wishes You'd Come Home When You Say You Will
Do you think your sitter's time is less important than yours? That's the message you send her when you waltz in late without much of an apology. "An extra half-hour feels like an eternity when you're waiting to go home," says a sitter in Boston.
4. Bribing for Good Behavior Is Not Out of the Question
Savvy bargaining is one way sitters keep things running smoothly when you're away. In addition to the usual "no dessert unless you finish your broccoli" rules, some sitters dream up more creative incentives for good behavior.
5. You Sometimes Undermine her Authority
If your regular sitter establishes a rule for a child (say, he can only bring his Zhu Zhu Pet to taekwondo class), don't reverse it on a whim when she's not around. That just undermines your kids' respect for their part-time caregiver. In the same way a good sitter makes every effort to respect your rules, she wishes you'd trust her judgment and let her establish some of her own.
6. Cancelling at the Last Minute Is Not Nice
How would you feel if your boss called right now and told you to take the rest of the week off-while he docks your pay accordingly? Calling off a babysitting date on the same day is similar. "If I have a week or even a few days' notice, I can usually come up with alternative income for that time," says a sitter in Alexandria, Virginia.
7. She Disapproves of Your Parenting Methods
One babysitter refuses to give her 2-year-old charge a bottle -- even though the parents still regularly offer one. "She's perfectly capable of using a cup," says the sitter. Another waters down the sugary juices that the mother encourages her to serve throughout the day.
8. A Longer To-Do List Means Less Attention for Your Kid
Lists are actually the least of it -- some sitters say they've been faced with nonnegotiable spreadsheets filled with chores. It's standard to ask a regular sitter to do the kids' laundry and dishes, clean up their toys and prepare simple meals, but keep in mind that the more additional tasks you pile on, the less time she has to focus on the kids.
9. She Needs to Eat, Too
Make sure to tell a new sitter that she's welcome to help herself to your snack cabinet once the kids are in bed or to include enough dinner for herself if she'll be preparing one for the kids. Most say they wait for a clear invitation before they crack open your fridge. Until then, they either remember to pack their own food or just let their stomachs growl.
10. She Wishes You'd Warn her When Your Kid Is Sick
If your child is ill, sitters appreciate knowing this before they show up at your door; some would prefer to lose the income rather than risk the health of themselves and their families.