In the rare instance that someone has managed to assure me that they aren’t going to steal my baby and I have some confidence that they will be able to provide quality care to my child, I hire them. And then shortly, inevitably, I fire them. I know, I know. It would appear that I am somehow overly critical – which, well, is true. BUT, in my defense the following situations were completely justified. Thank God I haven’t had any situations where I actually felt Avery was in danger, I don’t think I could live with myself, but I do know that I’m not going to leave him with someone whose behavior is questionable. Especially if I’m paying $15-20 an hour…you better damn be good (and be teaching my child mandarin, sign language and piano for those rates)!
So, to the chosen few who make it onto my “give em a shot” list…here’s how to get called back again and again. (Three have succeeded, several more have tried).
1. Arrive on time! I get it. It’s L.A. Traffic sucks. You think everywhere takes 15 minutes to get to and in reality it takes closer to 45. But unless you arrived in Los Angeles YESTERDAY, you know this. I am chronically late for the same reasons. But, I also make a point to leave with a good amount of cushion time when I actually need to be somewhere on time. I also get that life happens – but if you don’t call and let me know, then I am left feeling like I can’t trust when you will show up. I texted one sitter about 5 minutes before she was supposed to arrive letting her know the garage door was open for her to park, and she replied back that she was running a little late. Thinking she meant like oh 5-10 minutes, I responded “ok, do your best, I have an appointment I have to be at in 30 minutes. TWENTY FIVE minutes later she waltzed in. No apology. No explanation. Nada. Now, if she knew she was TWENTY FIVE minutes late, she should have texted me prior to 5 minutes before she was supposed to arrive and let me know what was happening. Or at least let me know that when I told her I had an appointment in 30 minutes, so I could at least call them and let them know I may be late?! It’s just respectful. Respect my time and I will respect yours. Show up late with no explanation, apology or adequate communication, well…expect to not have a job to show up to anymore.
2. Clean up after yourself! I don’t expect you to windex my windows and wax the floors, but I do expect to not come home to a house that looks like a bomb exploded in it – especially if I come home and you have basically watched him for 45 minutes and then sat on your ass for 2 hours while he napped…you could have easily cleaned up the mess from lunch and the toys you played with! I know that cleaning up after a toddler is an exercise in futility and I don’t expect more from you than I expect from myself. But, clean up after meals and snacks, and clean up the toys before nap. It’s just the rules of our house. P.S. Avery LOVES cleaning up, he like lives for that sh*t…washing dishes is like a trip to Disney for that kid…so you can’t use the little one for an excuse cause you would be THE.GREATEST.BABYSITTER.EVER if you just cleaned the whole damn time. If you are too lazy to wipe the high chair down after meals, clean up the crumbs on the ground, put the dishes in the dishwasher and pick up some legos (even when I EXPLICITLY ask you to because maybe you weren’t doing it due to lack of communication on my behalf) then clearly you are not the right fit for this job.
3. Pick up my child when he’s crying! I had one sitter come with me to the dance studio so I could take a dance class when Avery was about 5 months old. I had to leave the class 3 times because he was screaming bloody murder so loudly that you could hear it over the music. All three times she was just staring at him while he laid on the ground screaming. I scooped him up and just stared at her not quite knowing how to address the fact that I thought it was pretty common knowledge that if a baby is SCREAMING you pick the damn baby up!?!?!?!? Apparently it’s not universally known.
4. Communicate! One of my least favorite babysitters (that is on my “in case of emergency I know she’s not going to harm my baby, and Avery likes her even though I’m not a super-fan” list of sitters) has low energy and never cleans up, but what really irks me is that she says NOTHING to me when I come home. Like seriously NOTHING. Even if I ask how things went, if he ate well, how long he napped, what they did, etc. she grunts one word answers. It’s infuriating. Communication is EVERYTHING. Communication builds trust. Communication builds relationships. Communication helps moms and caregivers be on the same team – especially during the oh-so-challenging toddler years where enforcing and re-enforcing good/safe behavior is so important. I don’t expect you to be perfect, but I do expect you to communicate so that we can have a working relationship and so that I know you are open, honest and forthcoming. I also just really like to know what my son is up to when I’m away so that I know if he’s acting out, eating well, struggling with separation, upset, torturing the dog, etc. I don’t judge what happens…I do, however, judge your inability to talk to me about it.
5. Don’t text me while I’m on a date night and ask if your guy friend can come over and hang while my son sleeps. Um, are you 16?! You are a 27-year-old woman – you know that’s not ok. I did a background check on you, phone screening, in person interview, called three references, and had you watch Avery at the dance studio (in the same room as me) while I taught before I ever let you be alone with my child. What makes you think it’s ok to let a random man I have NEVER met into my house with my child? And why would you put me in the uncomfortable position of having to say no. (Just so you know, after discussing with Micah – DURING A CONCERT – I reluctantly said yes and then felt insanely uncomfortable the remainder of the evening.)
6. If my son falls and hits his head…TELL ME! I was giving Avery a bath once after a new sitter left and noticed a huge goose-egg on his forehead. I called my husband to ask if something had happened that morning while I was running, to which he said no. So, I called the sitter and said I just noticed a huge bump on his forehead and was wondering if he had hurt himself while she was there. I did everything in my power to reassure her that I would in no way be upset if he fall or hit his head accidentally, that he is a train wreck and falls ALL THE TIME (seriously, ask our pediatrician, we call pretty much weekly with a “he fell and hit ___ what do I do” question) but that I need to know what happened in case I should be on the lookout for anything or have it checked out. She still said nope, nothing happened. So either, she was not paying attention, was completely clueless and didn’t notice a fall or accident significant enough to cause a golf ball to protrude from my son’s head….or she was flat-out lying. She was obviously never asked back.
In summary: Communicate. Don’t lie. Tell me if my son hurts himself while you are there (or NOTICE if my son hurts himself while you are there). Don’t invite strangers into my home. Don’t leave a mess. And, if a baby is crying – pick them up!
It’s not a super demanding list. And some of it feels a bit like, well the directions at a gas station that leave you thinking, someone clearly had to have done that for them to decide it warranted a sign telling me not to follow suit (siphoning gas with your mouth people I’m talking to you). But, these are my musts. I’m sure over the next 10 years or so I’ll have some lovely gems to add to this list. Hopefully not. Right now we actually have two awesome sitters I’m excited about thus far. But who knows what the future will bring.
Stay tuned for HOW TO HIRE A GREAT SITTER and WHAT THE H*LL TO ASK A SITTER DURING AN INTERVIEW.
In the meantime, what have you or would you fire a sitter over?