I am active on a site called UrbanSitter. In the last several weeks I have worked for several families who are clearly unfamiliar with hiring sitters, including many who have admitted that they’ve never left their child with a sitter.
I have become more aware of some things and I decided that a ‘what to do when hiring a sitter’ list might be necessary.
DO offer up the wifi password if the sitter is going to be in your home after the kids are asleep. Otherwise, what do you expect me to do until midnight?
DON’T act shocked that I bring my computer, I have other commitments. Yes your child will get my attention, but once they are asleep? I’m not interested in watching movies all night. I probably have work for school to do.
DO make sure I have any relevant bedtime information. If your two year old needs a sippy cup of milk, tell me. If your five year old needs a nightlight tell me. It will make everyone’s life much easier. Times are mandatory. What does "when they are tired" even mean?
DON’T ask me to do things that are unsafe. I will not feed your baby milk that has been a)served before or b)out/in the fridge for who knows how long. Who wants a sick upset baby? On this note, telling me to leave an infant in a crib surrounded by pillows and other soft objects? Yeah, I won’t. And if you expect me to 'wear' the baby, make sure you at least offer a refresher. Carriers are scary and dangerous if I'm not familiar with that particular one.
DO offer food. I’m not saying I’m going to eat you out of house and home (I’m not, I’m counting calories and snacking isn’t really in the plans), but if you want me from 5-8, offer something. Same goes from 6-10. When am I supposed to eat dinner?
DON’T watch over my shoulder. Leave the house. Go grocery shopping. I absolutely promise everyone and everything will still be breathing when you get home 30 mintues later. Then stretch this into longer periods.
DO expect your 8-15 month old to cry. It’s what they do. I’m a stranger. We’ll be okay, probably as soon as you walk out the door.
DON’T walk into the room when I’m trying to calm them down. You’ve now made it impossible for us to figure it out. Once again, I promise that we will and everyone will be alive.
DO get home on time. If you can’t, call/text/carrier pigeon. Something. It’s not fair to me to have to drive home after bars close, if we’ve agreed to 11pm.
DON’T make the first question you ask me “can we be out later than midnight?” That’s not going to go over well. If you needed a sitter until 1, you should have been up front. I have to drive home. And have other commitments.
DO have cash. Or be honest about credit. I don’t mind being paid by credit card, if I know that’s the plan. I do mind when it’s absolute last second, and I had counted on having cash to pay for something cash only.
DON’T short change me. If you’re late you owe me for the extra time, not just whatever time you originally booked me for. I have a life. I deserve to be compensated. If you're early? You owe me for the agreed upon time. If you cancel last second? Offer SOME compensation, I likely turned down other jobs/opportunities for you.
Respect me, and I will be much happier in your home. And much more likely to want to return.