Unfortunately babysitters are a necessary evil if you want to keep your sanity as a parent and keep your relationships alive and well with your partner and your friends. Parenting is one of the most difficult things you'll ever do but it can be the most rewarding also. No matter how much we love our children they are exhausting, so much energy in such tiny little bodies! So much patience required to teach, communicate, entertain, listen, enjoy, love, create.....no wonder you just want them to be on their tablets so you can have a conversation with your partner. So when you do need a babysitter, and you will, make sure you don't make these common mistakes:
1. Not informing your children what you expect from them while the babysitter is there
Kids need to know what you expect from them while you're away. This is especially true when you have kids that are 4 and above. Children will always see what they can get away with. They do it with you and they will definitely do it with a babysitter. What will consequences be if your expectations aren't met should be communicated to them as well. Don't tell the children what your expectations are in front of the babysitter upon their arrival. This should be discussed BEFORE they get there. Children can feel belittled in front of someone new that they are looking forward to meeting if behavior is discussed in front of the babysitter. They want a fresh start to get to know someone new.
2. not communicating house rules
Parents have a tendency to give babysitters the schedule of the kids and not what the house rules are. Do you let the kids jump on the furniture? Are the kids allowed snacks, and if so what's allowed? Do you allow the kids to play outside; in the front yard or backyard and if you do are they allowed to play on their own? Are they allowed to walk any animals outside what is the procedure for that? There are so many things parents take for granted because it is so routine for your family but you would be surprised what kids will say they're allowed to do when it seems crazy on the other hand they may be allowed but the babysitter doesn't think they are.
3. not checking with the babysitter if there are delays and change of return times
A lot of babysitters have jobs other then babysitting or early morning school so taking for granted that it will be okay if you stay out later isn't cool. I know, I know you're adults and you should be able to have the freedom to return when you want but having respect for the person you've left your children with is always a good thing; especially if you want them to return. Most babysitters are willing to be flexible but checking with them is a nice courtesy.
4. Not telling them if the kids can be on screens and what they are allowed to do while on them
This is one of the most frustrating things a babysitter has to deal with. So many babysitters will make mistakes in this regard because kids will tell them it is okay for them to watch or play things that seem to be inappropriate to them. In this day-in-age even animations are geared toward the adult and if the kids say it is okay for them to watch a babysitter will normally let them. So many games I consider to be too violent for kids and even though the child says they can play them or watch them I will suggest alternatives. But not a lot of babysitters will do this and just take what the child says at face value. I suggest you keep a list of allowable activities and shows for kids with your notes to babysitters.
5. Not informing the babysitter what should be done if rules aren't followed
We all want to believe that our children will be the best child ever while we're gone but things may happen and what tools should be utilized by the babysitter if one of your beloved children should choose to act up (it isn't a big deal but it happens)? Don't assume your child will be better for the babysitter then they are for you, and you need to let the caregiver know what they can do to restore order.
6. Taking for granted that the babysitter will know What your routine is for meals, bedtime, homework
Do you expect the kids to work on their homework, do they work on it in a group setting or separately, do the kids read in bed until sleepy or is there a specific lights out time, do you let the kids eat in front of the TV? All of this information helps the babysitter to maintain order in your home while you're gone. I know that it can be a special occasion when a babysitter comes but should it be complete mayhem for them?
7. Putting up with tardiness and unprofessionalism from your babysitter
Parents don't treat babysitters like they would an employee but don't you think you should? They should be on time, they shouldn't cancel last minute or simply not show up. You are leaving your children with someone that should be expected to be professional. If you don't expect them to respect you and your time what makes you think they will respect your children and your home? Even if you hire a high school kid down the street teaching them a good work ethic will only help them in the future. Babysitting is important and it should be treated as such. If you expect it they'll give it. Trust me on this.
Communication is the best way to get what you expect from your babysitters. Always let your babysitter know when you are impressed with what they do and how well they care for your children. If you want the best expect it and make sure you don't fall short yourself.