Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I have two young girls. I’m a single mom going to college, which requires a babysitter.
I came home early and found my new teenage babysitter lying on the couch with food everywhere, music blaring, and texting on her phone.
It looked like a disaster area in my daughters’ room. My girls were asleep on the floor in their clothes.
I didn’t get references for this girl, except she lives close by and other neighbors use her with their kids.
I only got $2 an hour when I babysat. Now I’m 42, so I expected to pay a little more, but she charges $8 an hour. My college classes are two hours long so it’s usually $20 each time! That’s $40 a week! $160 a month! Is that normal?
And is it normal to have such a messy sitter, whom I don’t think really paid attention and cared for my daughters?
How am I supposed to judge what to pay? More importantly, what values and ethics should my sitters have? I’m at a loss!
Also, I’m tempted to tell the rest of my neighbors!
We applaud you and agree that it must be difficult to work, go to school, and take care of your young family. We know you want the best for your children and you are making sacrifices that are difficult.
Babysitting has become a real career-starter. It’s a completely different era of time. Safety comes first. It’s worth the extra money – if the sitter is trained and qualified.
Treating it as an employer-and-employee situation will help you feel confident that you have conveyed your expectations.
Interview your candidates, yes, more than one. Babysitting is an opportunity for young teens to receive a stable income.
Ask questions such as:
1) What three values do you have that would make you a good babysitter for my children? (Relay some specific characteristics about your children’s personalities and capabilities.)
2) Who is your hero and why? (It will be quite telling if they mention a TV reality star and not a historically significant person such as C.S. Lewis or Amelia Earhart. Or their mom.)
3) Why do you want to take care of my girls? (If they say they don’t know or because they need the money or they can’t do anything else until they are 16 … steer clear.)
4) What would you do in an emergency? (They need CPR, first-aid, choking rescue skills and training.)
In short, the sitter should be a professional.
Gossiping about your bad babysitter doesn’t fix the problem. Look up babysitting training courses and spread the word about them.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri