teen babysitterI’m really proud to say that even though our lives are hectic and our daughter is a tad bit demanding, my husband and I have always been able to take a little time out for just the two of us. We put a lot of effort into making sure that we have time as a couple, to reconnect and to appreciate each other outside of our role as parents. And the only reason we get to do this on a regular basis is because we have the most fantastic, lovely, engaged teenage babysitter to ever walk the face of the planet.

Today, I’d like to write about just how much I appreciate our spectacular babysitter.

There are a number of stories I could tell to demonstrate just how truly fabulous Rachel is. Let’s just start with my favorite.

My husband and I came home after a long dinner and a few drinks with some close friends to find Rachel standing over a blanket of newspaper, our daughter intently staring at the babysitter’s feet. As I got closer, I realized that my child was attempting to paint Rachel’s toenails and doing a really horrible job at it. Rachel was giggling and assuring Brenna that her toes looked lovely.

It turns out that Brenna had asked to have her nails painted, only to want to return the favor. Rachel set out what was needed to make sure the episode didn’t get too messy and let our little one go to work. When I asked the girl what she was thinking, she brushed it off with an easy, “The stuff comes off!” She was right, and my daughter was having the time of her life! I never would’ve considered letting her paint my nails, and Brenna knew it. The whole thing was like a special secret between her and her babysitter.

We met Rachel through my daughter’s long-time daycare provider. Rachel had gone to the in-home daycare and continued to help out after school. My daughter was already familiar with her, which was admittedly a huge bonus.

But it’s really not just that Rachel lets our daughter do fun things that we would normally forbid. It’s not just that my daughter asks for Rachel to come over “and play,” though she does and I love it. This teenager is one of the best role models my daughter could have. She’s a polite, responsible young lady who gets good grades and participates in her school. She has a busy schedule, which some people might be annoyed to work around, but I find to be comforting. Most importantly, when she’s here, I know that Rachel is engaging with my daughter in a positive and playful manner. 

Honestly, there are times that I look at our babysitter and think that she might be my role model too. She keeps our daughter in line without making it feel negative. She makes their activities fun, but still manages to work in an educational aspect. She has the patience of a saint. She’s the mom I want to be.

A good babysitter has the ability to brighten up a house. She gives parents a guilt-free chance to get out and have adult time. She gives kids a friend, who is close enough to their age that they relate to each other, but mature enough to still be an authority figure. (I’m saying “she” because my awesome babysitter happens to be a girl, but there’s no doubt that teenage boys could be amazing sitters as well!)

Considering what a Midwestern teenage babysitter is normally paid, we probably give Rachel more than is necessary. I tip often and generously, more than double what I would give any other sitter. And I don’t hesitate to do so at all. This girl is worth her weight in gold.

As my daughter gets older, I hope that Rachel will still be able to come help us out. I hope that she’ll continue to build a relationship with my daughter. I love the idea of Brenna having a cool, older girl to confide in.

And for all of you jealous mommas out there, I hope that you find your own Rachel. I hope you get the chance to really sit down and get to know that teenager who spends their Saturday nights letting you watch rated-R movies and drink martinis. Get to know that kid and then let them know how much you appreciate them!

There are a hundred stories of babysitters gone bad. We all know that kid who has friends over after bedtime or sneaks into the parents liquor cabinet. Let’s have a little acknowledgement of the awesome sitters who just enjoy playing with our little ones, or at least do an amazing job of pretending to. Let’s all give a big cheer for Rachel and every other sitter like her!

(Photo: auremar/Shutterstock)