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Setting babysitter expectations

There is nothing worse than coming home from a wonderful date with your spouse to find your kids still awake way past their bedtimes, the pizza dishes all over the kitchen and a babysitter lounging on the couch, talking on her iPhone.

Lazy babysitter on the phone

Although it’s easy to blame it on the sitter, consider the fact that she had no idea what you expected of her for the evening. Try these tactics for getting on the same page with your babysitter.

Think about what you expect in advance

Before your sitter comes over, think about what’s truly a priority to you so that you aren’t rambling on while simultaneously trying to finish getting ready and get out the door. Even better — send her an email in advance about what you expect. Writing the email will help you compile your thoughts and it will give her a chance to think of any questions in advance.

Set your sitter up for success

Do your best to make things easy on her. Get the kids bathed before she arrives or order a pizza and set out paper plates. Plus, the less time she has to do chores, the more time she has to hang out with your kids and have fun!

Be realistic

Just because you are a super mom and can cook a gourmet, all-organic meal, bathe the kids and get them to bed on time, plus scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush, doesn’t mean that your sitter can. Babysitters who are at your home on a regular basis (which starts to be more of a nanny than a sitter), can certainly be expected to help keep up on the daily household chores, but don’t expect your occasional sitter to do it all. A couple rules of thumb when setting expectations — ask her to have the house back to the state it was in when she got there (whatever state that may be!) and pick one thing that’s important to you for her to accomplish — getting the kids to bed on time, running the dishwasher after dinner… whatever you pick.

Make yourself clear verbally

When she arrives, walk her around the house and tell her what you expect, if you haven’t already. Take your time and explain things and give her the chance to ask questions. She won’t know what you expect unless you tell her — unless your sitter is a mind reader, in which case, hire her full-time!

Tell your children what you expect before you go

Do you want your kids to take baths tonight? Tell them so, in front of the babysitter. Are the kids required to pick up their rooms before they watch a movie? Make that clear while everyone is listening. A lot of miscommunications between sitters and parents come from the kids after you’re gone.

Reinforce with written communication

Sometimes trying to get out the door is crazy and it’s hard to verbally communicate with your sitter as she’s pulling your screaming 2-year-old off your legs so you can leave. Write a note to your sitter before she gets there so that if all else fails, she has something to go by.

Put your money where your mouth is

We also know that as many sitters there are out there that need a bit of hand holding, there are many more that are gems! Did she give your kitchen a scrub after the kids were in bed or help your stubborn 10-year-old finish that science project that you’ve been dreading? Tip her with an extra hour of pay to show your appreciation.

Give second chances, but with guidelines

On the flip side, sometimes you can be clear as a bell about what you expect and things just don’t turn out that way. If your sitter missed the mark this time, give her a second chance, but let her know before she leaves what you expect next time she comes over.

Here’s to hoping that you come home to pure bliss next time you have a babysitter come over. Or that at least to whatever you were hoping for!

What do you expect from your babysitter? Are dishes and toy clean-up part of the gig or are those things extras in your book?

More about babysitters

What your babysitter wants you to know
5 Signs of a bad babysitter
How to find the perfect babysitter

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