Dear Mouthy Housewives,
Recently I hired the teenage daughter of a good friend to babysit my preschool children. Unfortunately, she turned out to be a bit of a disaster. I came home to find my kids still awake two hours after their bedtime, their bedrooms trashed and the remnants of a cookie baking session all over the kitchen. I told my friend about this, but she didn't think it was anything to worry about and now she keeps suggesting we hire her daughter again.
We go out together often, so she knows exactly when I need a sitter. How can I tell her I don't want her daughter watching my kids, but in a nice way?
Dear Sitting Duck,
Okay, I'm just going to say this upfront: I'm not too sympathetic about your issue because I CAN NEVER FIND A STUPID SITTER. Seriously, none of the teenage girls in my neighborhood babysit and I've recently become a little desperate. Not desperate enough to hire someone whose Craigslist ad says, "Recent Parolee Looking For Fun, Rewarding PT Work!!!" but damn near. I mean, for the love of God, my husband and I haven't had a date night since Friends was on the air. I'd let a sitter trash our entire house and feed my kids sugar straight from the bag if it meant we could have dinner alone just once. ONCE.
But enough about me.
I actually do understand your problem. It's very difficult to be put in the position of criticizing a friend's child, even when the criticism is deserved. However, before you write off this girl for good, I'm going to suggest you try her out one more time. Everyone deserves a second chance, right? Well, everyone except the hairdresser who talked me into a Donna Summer stack perm when I was 12. That chick was a total one-timer.
Here's what I think you should do: Schedule your friend's daughter to sit, then ask her to come a few minutes early so you can go over the house rules with her. Let her know in no uncertain terms that you have a firm bedtime for the kids. Suggest she start the nighttime routine a half hour beforehand because, let's face it, bedtimes are hard for parents, much less teenage babysitters. Also let her know that you don't want her to cook anything and that you expect the kids to clean up their rooms after they're done playing. Then, once you've given her your rules and boundaries, go out and enjoy yourself.
If you come home to find that she's followed your rules, great! But if you come home to find the same issues as the first time, I see no reason why you'd ever hire her again. And you'll have plenty of ammunition if and when your friend brings it up. "I'm sorry, but she didn't listen to what I wanted her to do with the kids," you can say and leave it at that.
Best of luck and if it doesn't work out, um, can you see if she's free this Saturday? My husband and I really want to see Lincoln.
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