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Babysitter Basics

Babysitting is a big job with lots of responsibility and you want to be sure to you pick the right one for your family. Janine Ottley Etiquette Expert says there are definite rules to follow when it comes to hiring someone to watch your kids. Studio 5 rounded up a group of eager moms who want the straight forward answers to their sitter worries.

1st Question: "The babysitters I use are young like 12 and 13, when I call and ask if they can babysit do I ask the mom or the daughter?"

Answer: It depends. Ask the other moms who might be using that babysitter and if they are calling the mother, follow suit. If you know the babysitter uses her own cell phone to make babysitting plans, call the girl. It's always respectful to ask the mother first and follow her lead.

2nd Question: "I had a sitter ask if she could bring a friend when she came to babysit, what do you think I should do?"

Answer: Friends are a distraction. If there are extenuating circumstances where you feel it's appropriate to have two babysitters that's fine, but a friend usually just means that they plan on playing and not giving their undivided attention to your children.

3rd Question: "How young is too young and how old is too old for a babysitter to be?"

Answer: State law requires that you must be 12 to tend children alone. I think between the ages of 12-15 are great to ask, after that dating and driving become a complication. If you have a babysitter who loves to tend your children, then you can use them until they go off to college, etc. It depends on the girl. Communication is key.

4th Question: "If the babysitter is going to be there during mealtime, do I need to provide a meal for them besides what I have ready for the kids?"

Answer: I believe it's polite. If good manners help others feel comfortable then having a meal or food they can access is helping that cause. If they turn you down because they have already eaten, that's okay, but it's always better to be prepared than to expect them to fend for themselves; I think that's just good hospitality.

5th Question: I think that my husband overpays, how much should you pay a babysitter? Should it depend on age or skill?"

Answer: It can depend on where you live, how old the sitter is, and how many children you have. The minimum in my opinion is two dollars for the first child and one dollar per each additional. Sometimes my daughter comes home from watching five children and has made ten dollars an hour. It's all circumstantial. Again, communication is of the upmost importance and if you are underpaying them, they will go elsewhere.

6th Question: "Is it too much to ask that my babysitter doesn't let my kids watch movies the entire time I'm gone?"

Answer: It is not too much to ask at all! Your babysitter should be prepared with games and activities for your children while you are gone. Think about what you would do if you were in that situation with someone else's kids and also remember that you were 12 once. If you prefer that they don't watch TV, make sure you leave a list of activities that are suitable for them even if the babysitter comes prepared; it can be a lot to handle 5 kids for 7 hours with no TV as a teenager.

7th Question: "One time I came home and there was milk spilled all over the floor, how do I handle a situation gone wrong?"

Answer: Make sure you are clear with your expectations. If you don't communicate with your babysitter and assume they know what is expected of them, you will always be disappointed. If you come home to a messy house but happy kids, you can always work with your sitter on what you expect from her in terms of the house and other things. Communication and setting expectations are essential to a healthy babysitter/parent relationship.


If you have more questions for Janine our Etiquette Expert, you can visit her blog www.thepinkteapot.net

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