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Should We Train Our Babysitters?

Moms Council member Sheen Stephens wonders if parents should take it upon themselves to train their babysitters in the fine points of good etiquette.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on Agoura Hills Patch, part of an initiative to reach out to moms and families. We invite you and your circle of friends to help build a community of support for mothers and their families right here in Agoura Hills.

Each week in Moms Talk, our council of smart moms will take your questions, and share stories and solutions. Moms, dads, grandparents and the diverse families who make up our community will have a new resource for questions about the thousands of issues that arise while raising children.

Today's topic: How to establish babysitting etiquette

This week's question comes from Sheena Stephens, the mother of three children, ages 8, 6 and 2.

I consider myself lucky in the babysitter department.  If my in-laws aren't available, we have a couple teen girls in the neighborhood to call upon.  That said, it seems to me and many of my mom friends that today's teens haven't learned basic babysitting etiquette the way our generation did.

So how do you handle babysitter training?  Are your teen babysitters already trained in babysitting basics and etiquette (i.e. clean the dinner dishes, pick up the toys that were played with, don't leave your own food messes for the parents to clean up when they return)?  Or do you need to coach them to meet these basic expectations?  On the flip side, do you just let them ransack the house as long as they are good with the kids and the kids want them to come back?  After all, a messy house means they played and had fun.

We pay our babysitters fairly, but I find it awkward to be honest about expectations when the babysitters are also neighbors and friends.  Does it have to come down to happy kids verses messy house?

Lori Hultin March 30, 2011 at 10:39 PM
I completely agree with the consensus so far - important to set the expectations up front (nicely). Some people are fine with a messy house, as long as the kids are taken care of, while others want to be sure that dishes have been put away and toys picked up off the floor when they get home. Whatever is important to you, just be sure to communicate it to the sitter initially and as Charlene says, you're the boss - you're paying them. Remember that you are helping to teach the teen babysitter responsibility and accountability as well, and take pride in a job well done!
Candi March 31, 2011 at 07:39 PM
When considering a babysitter, parents of special needs children need to ask specific questions about each caregiver’s experience with disabled children, as well as what they can do to accommodate your child’s special needs. And, of course, you want a babysitter that will focus on your child as a person, rather than on his disabilities. We recognize that caring for a special needs child is often a team approach, and we ask parents to be honest and up-front about their child’s abilities and limitations. Their babysitter should know about daily routines, including any physical or occupational therapies, medication schedules, doctors’ appointments and so forth. Parents should give the babysitter any testing equipment, medicines, or special equipment that the child needs, and teach the nanny how to use it. They should also explain if the babysitter will be responsible for regular procedures, such as finger prick tests to check blood sugar levels. Let the babysitter know if your child needs help putting on, taking off or using braces, artificial limbs or other equipment. Teach the babysitter about your child’s seeing-eye dog or other type of service animal. And explain if your child needs special medications, such as a shot in case of an allergic reaction. If your child is prone to seizures, be clear about the protocol during these episodes... http://tinyurl.com/4ufamz9
Kayanne Malin April 01, 2011 at 05:57 PM
How could any responsible mother leave here children with a clueless babysitter? Unfortunately, I see and hear about it far too often. So I decided to do something to fix the problem – to change the world, as I like to think. I wrote a book, created a website, and started a blog for babysitters. It has morphed into something even bigger: teaching life skills through babysitting. I get babysitters to read it by telling them they'll learn how to make more money - which they will. But along the way they will learn so much more: customer service, kid behavior and discipline, safety, activities, building self esteem… It's a work in progress, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know. Best, Kayanne – www.smartbabysitting.com
Susan Pascal April 01, 2011 at 08:00 PM
Interesting project, Kayanne. Thanks for sharing.
hervia.org May 09, 2011 at 07:00 AM
1 ridiculously huge coupon a day. Like doing your city at 90% off! www.hervia.org

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