How to Treat Your Babysitter with Respect
Besides watching your child(ren), your baby-sitter may also be doing:
- Light housekeeping;
- Making meals;
- Helping with homework.
What is a Babysitter?
When you entrust your child to a babysitter or child care provider, you are getting someone who:
- Takes legal responsibility for your child’s well-being in your absence;
- Teaches your child right from wrong and enforces your house rules;
- Entertains and educates your child;
- Exercises your child’s mind and body.
They are a role-model, personal companion, guardian angel and surrogate parent for the duration of their services.
Just because a babysitter doesn’t come with a child care diploma, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve your respect as a professional. An increasing number of people are accessing babysitting and first-aid courses specific for responding to child emergencies. Experienced babysitters can sometimes have more hands-on time raising children than parents do. If you shop around and check references with due diligence, you can find a babysitter with more experience and relevant qualifications than you’ll find in some day cares filled with bright-eyed college grads.
This person is literally raising your child for you while you are away. This is why it is so important to find a decent babysitter and even more important to treat them with respect.
Your child’s welfare is in their hands. If your care provider feels used or resentful, their supervision of your child will become slipshod and you may lose their valuable services. Good baby-sitters are very hard to replace.
Relying on Family
It’s natural to turn to family for help and when it comes to child care, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a favour in a pinch or emergency. It’s reasonable, because a favour is something that doesn’t happen often and is reciprocated with something of value in return. However, I am constantly appalled by how many people think they can use family for free child care services on a regular basis. This is a dilemma I faced with my own family.
Do you ever ask a family member to baby-sit for you?
Before you turn to your family for help, consider this:
Would you work for free? Would you go to a day care and expect them to watch your child for free? Would you expect a plumber to fix your busted pipes for free? Not likely! So, why would you expect a family member to? That’s a lot of time and energy expended on raising your kids. Don’t you think that’s worth some sort of payment?
When you turn to your family for babysitting, be reasonable in your request and respectful of their time and boundaries. Most of all, don’t take them for granted! Approach them with an attitude of gratitude.
When I was the single auntie who worked from home, family members wanted me to watch their kids for free. Once in a while for an hour or so was fine. It was nice to spend quality time with my pre-school nephew while his parents were in town doing their grocery shopping. It was a different matter altogether when I was approached to watch him while his parents were at work.The job would start out as 3 days a week and by the end of a month, I would be watching my nephew full-time.
I explained that my regular fee is $10/hour which included snacks and meals, hands-on outdoor activities, trips to the park, and crafts. Because they were family, I would only charge $5/hour to a maximum of $20/day.
They were shocked. We were family, how could I dare charge them for babysitting?
I was dumbfounded by their expectations that I would work 40 hours a week for free! That conversation didn’t end well.
Expecting someone to take on the legal responsibility of caring for your child without appropriate compensation is disrespectful of their valuable time, experience, and energy.
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The Kid Next Door
There seems to be some strange expectations when hiring a 'tween or teenager to babysit. Some folks have the strange notion that the “experience gained” is payment enough. Or, that giving some cheap dollar store trinket as payment should make them happy. This is outrageous. How would you like to be stiffed for payment?
By the way ...
This goes for the "babysitter" living with you. Your older children are not there for you to take advantage of for free services, either. Your 'tween or teen deserves to be treated with respect and dignity when it comes to babysitting for you. Give them a choice of whether or not they want the responsibility of watching their siblings. If they take on such a big job, compensate them for it.
Just like you’d expect the neighbour to pay your kid for a job, you need to pay your own kid. The bonus is that maybe your child may consider some other compensation in lieu of cash. Maybe they’d like a week off of laundry duty or next weekend’s curfew extended by an extra hour.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
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© 2012 Rosa Marchisella