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Five Things the Mom You Are Babysitting for May Not Tell You
December 19, 2013 | in Babysitting Jobs
Parents often want your services just as much as you want their gig. However, in their eagerness to land you, you might run into a few surprises when the big day arrives. Be it by denial or desperation (wearing a three-year-old on one leg is not considered appropriate gala attire), most parents are guilty of favorably coloring their little darling to prospective caretakers.
Being forewarned is being forearmed, so check out this list of common babysitting surprises.
You’re the Heavy
Mom has left you a list clearly outlining her expectations. It details things to be accomplished by the child, bedtimes and snacks. Great, right? Until you find out that your detailed to-do’s have never been done before. Maybe it’s an innocent misunderstanding; she might see you as the ultimate pro – your Mary Poppins’ bag has all the secrets to teach her Velcro-kid the mysteries of round-the-tree-through-the-hole shoelace-tying, right? But maybe mom’s just not a “math” person, so she slyly shifted dividing-fraction-duty your way.
How to deal: Give the child some exposure to the requested tasks in a fun way or let him help you complete them, then gently explain to the parents upon their return that you find consistency the best way to ensure a positive babysitting experience. Let them know you don’t want to create confusion by teaching him something in a different way than the parents would do it.
Sugarcoating their Eating Habits
You open the fridge and neatly laid out is a plate of steamed broccoli, a pan of tilapia to pop under the broiler, milk and a loaf of twelve grain bread for toast. Perfect – until the child stares blankly at the broccoli and asks why the milk isn’t brown and the toast isn’t white. Panicked, you worry the child will starve, until she assures you she is still full from the juice boxes and cupcakes she had before you arrived.
How to deal: Make it a fun challenge to at least try bites of the new foods, then find the healthiest compromise the child will eat. Upon the parents return, suggest they try new foods on the child in an atmosphere she might be more comfortable with, such as a family dinner, so you don’t run into any unknown allergies… and so she doesn’t see you as the bad guy and damage your babysitter-child relationship.
10:00pm might actually mean 10:20…
You watch the clock. First 10 minutes goes by, then 15. The phone rings with a “we got tied up, we’re just around the corner!” Half an hour later, you hear the car pull up. There’s a reason most daycare facilities institute a hefty fee by the minute for late pickups, along with a three strikes you’re out policy.
How to deal: Explain that you understand that things pop up, but that your own responsibilities require you to have an accurate idea of when you’ll get home (your own children waiting for you or your vehicle, getting your work/homework done, your parents are concerned about late night driving, early morning at work or school the following day). If you have flexibility, institute a ‘late fee’ hourly rate with no partials, or an escalating fee policy where your hourly rate doubles after 10pm to encourage timeliness.
Monsters Under In the Bed
Bed at 8pm? Great, plenty of time to catch your favorite show or tuck into the book you brought along. Until his little jaw drops as you walk in bearing PJs, he wails, “But I don’t go to bed until 9:30!” and then he runs screaming through the house, laughing hysterically while tossing teddy bears behind him to deflect you before hiding in the laundry hamper.
How to deal: Institute quiet time for the night at the requested hour, pick out some picture books for the child to flip through or lower the lights and trade thoughts of snuggling into your own book for a nice long chapter book to read aloud. Upon the parents return, suggest the need for consistency to keep those little body clocks synchronized.
Little Quirks Can Be Much More
As the parents are leaving, mom tosses a breezy mention to not worry about any ‘little quirks’ you might run into. As frustrated tantrums and inconsolable wails escalate, you quickly realize there are more serious issues at play than your typical kid-response to pouring the juice into the wrong cup or cutting a sandwich into triangles instead of rectangles. You suspect more than overtiredness or that she’s coming down with something.
How to deal: Depending on the severity of the reactions, you might need to put in a quick call to mom for strategies to calm the child – or even insist on her return if you are concerned about her safety or well-being. If mom is unreachable, she might have left a back-up list of family members to call in an emergency. A call for insight might be a good compromise. If you are equipped and want to continue the relationship, a higher pay rate might be appropriate.← 100 Things All Babysitters Should Know | How to Make a Good First Impression on a New Babysitting Job →
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