I've been a mom for five years, and we've had very few real
babysitters in that time.
For a few blissful years, we lived near my newlywed sister
and her husband, and since they didn't have children of their own yet, they were
happy to watch our little ones when we needed it (or at least they graciously
pretended to be). When my husband was in grad school, we swapped babysitting
with another student family to save money.
But with our most recent move, we don't have any family
nearby, and with my work schedule, plus a book club for me and a choral group
for my husband that meet the same night, we've had more babysitters in the last
three months than we had in the last five years.
I knew, of course, that I wanted someone who would take good
care of my children, but I didn't know that there were some other things I
really would love in a babysitter.
Here are a few that have made babysitters extra great in my
1. When your
teenage babysitter tells you that you look cute
A few weeks ago, I did my
hair and makeup after a pool trip, just minutes before the babysitter arrived. When this 15-year-old showed up, the first thing she said was, "You
look so cute." Let me tell you, that girl has a job for life at my house.
2. When they
can drive themselves
I grew up getting picked up by the mom or dad and
then one of them driving me home afterward. I assumed that would be the case
for me too, but several of the teens that babysit for my girls have their own
car or live so close that I can stand on my front porch and watch them walk to
their front door, and that is seriously the best. Goodbye, awkward small talk
in the car.
3. When they
periodically text me to give me an update
If you'd asked me six months
ago, I would have assumed I'd prefer radio-silence that meant everything was
good. But now I am extra grateful for a babysitter who texts me to say everyone
went down easily to bed and they read some books together after dinner. That
little text gives me mega peace of mind.
4. When they
keep the television and iPads off
I really want a babysitter who comes
over and PLAYS with my girls, instead of letting them sit in front of a screen
for two hours. It's always a little painful to pay a babysitter, but it's much
less so when I feel like they've really engaged my girls (plus, my girls are
much less reticent about having a babysitter if they know it is someone who
will pay five games of Candyland and then read them a few books).
5. When they
jump right in
It's always a little awkward when you're still there and
your children are climbing all over you or the babysitter and you're trying to
finish up any last things before you walk out the door, but if the babysitter
comes in and sits right down with my girls to play, help them eat their
dinner or go see the latest art project, that makes the transition from me in
charge to them in charge so much easier and smoother for everyone.
You know what else doesn't bother me? When the babysitters eat
the good snacks. I lived for eating someone else's snacks when I was a teenage babysitter, and I certainly don't begrudge them for scoping out the treats in the pantry now that
I'm the grown-up.