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These Are the Secrets Babysitters & Nannies Wish Parents Knew

Most parents occasionally need help raising their children so having a good relationship with a childcare provider is the dream.

However, finding and keeping a good babysitter or nanny is not easy — especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to strain the lives of families — and it’s important for parents and caregivers to build strong partnerships through open dialogue. “There is more to retaining a good provider than just paying a decent hourly rate,” Rachel Charlupski, the owner of The Babysitting Company tells SheKnows. “Respect, clear communication, and proper vetting can go a long way toward facilitating a successful relationship.”

That said, according to a 2019 survey sponsored by the US Nanny Institute, which offers affordable training for nannies and babysitters, some childcare providers report feeling disrespected by their employers and trapped in underpaying jobs. With that in mind, we asked the professionals to reveal what they wish parents knew about their complicated and wonderful gigs.

Communicate Your Expectations

“Don’t ask babysitters to enforce rules that parents don’t enforce themselves. For example, don’t expect sitters to have a child clean their room if you, as the parent, can’t do that. It will only make the [time] unpleasant for everyone.” —Melanee,* New York City, New York. 

“Don’t ask babysitters to enforce rules that parents don’t enforce themselves.”

“Being a caregiver and a housekeeper are two separate jobs although parents often try to combine them for the price of one, which is unacceptable.” — Lailatou Bambara, Irvington, New Jersey. 

“[Parents should] outline job details in an established agreement, contract, or clause, which gives everyone a reference point if responsibilities get blurry.” —Jada Rashawn, San Antonio, Texas. 

“If your child has a quirky habit, special need, or allergy, please let me know.” — Mandy, Portland, Maine. 

Expect Children’s Behavior to Change When You Leave

“The sooner parents leave the house, the easier it is for the kids to continue their day. Parents often feel guilty [about leaving], which is understandable, and drag out [their goodbyes], which can get young children worked up. I have found that a loving and timely exit makes for an easier transitional period for children. And don’t feel bad for leaving whether it’s for work or self-care. We will comfort your child.” Hanna W.*, NSW, Australia

“If your kids behave significantly better for me than they do for you, it’s because I set firm boundaries and enforce them kindly. Kids know that I won’t let them get away with poor behavior, so when they’re with me, they don’t try to pull what they might with their parents.” —Emily Lau, Omaha, Nebraska. 

“I’m not a huge fan of nanny cameras.”

Respect Our Time

“Some parents message right before our shift is over and ask if we can stay later. I always feel obliged, but this makes it hard to set boundaries with respect to my time. Once in a while is understandable, but when it happens a lot, it is quite annoying.” —Elke Crosson, Armstrong, British Columbia. 

“I wish parents wouldn’t come home late without offering to pay for an Uber for us.”— C. Lee*, Brooklyn, New York. 

“Parents will ask me to arrive four hours earlier without considering that I may be doing something else. Or, they’ll want a sitter until 3 a.m. with that same person back at 7 a.m. It just isn’t possible.” —Charlupski.

“This is a real job and we count on the hours scheduled. It’s not okay to cancel with little notice and not pay for reserved time.” —Mandy. 

Don’t Micromanage Us

“I really wish parents wouldn’t call multiple times to ‘check in.’ I want to give all my attention to the child, and I also want parents to enjoy their time away.” — Amber Woodruff, Franklin, Tennessee. 

“Trust is the most important part of the nanny-parent relationship and it’s why I’m not a huge fan of nanny cameras. I have nothing to hide but if you feel that you have to peek in order to trust me — even after getting to know me — then we probably won’t be the best fit.” —Lau.

“Don’t try to intervene when a babysitter is bonding with a child, as it can be a distraction.” —Kristin Cunzulo, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“Please don’t tell your kids they can stay up late because they have a sitter.”

Recognize Your Childcare Provider’s Needs Too

“Some families are very nice and offer food if we get hungry, but others don’t.” Yamilier Castillo, Long Island, New York. 

“Parents could offer regular babysitters paid vacation or sick days equal to days worked. It would also really help to provide a small stipend for art or toy supplies, or gift certificates to the art store or Goodwill.” —Mandy.

Remember That We Love Your Kids

“We enjoy taking care of little ones, it is a pleasure. And we [appreciate] feedback as it helps us continue providing quality care.”—Jamali Mosley, Palm Beach, Florida.

“Our goal is for children to be comfortable with us. Safety and trust is very important.” —Gennesys Cruz, Miami, Florida. 

*Mandy, Hannah W., and Melanee requested that SheKnows use only their initials, a pseudonym, or omit their last names for privacy reasons. 

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