1. You Fish For Compliments On Your Kid...At The Expense Of Other Kids
Yes, Mason surely is more intelligent than other children in his school, including the other kids for whom I babysit! He is the most beautiful, brilliant and all around amazing miracle of a child upon which I have even laid my eyes and yes, I do mean that literally! I swear to you on your stack of unread New Yorkers!
Don’t put me in a Saw trap concocted of your twisted parental narcissism, within which I must either fail to validate your child or insult literally every other child in the world, including those for whom I babysit, to whom I am related or otherwise love.
2. You Text Me Incessantly
Many of you have complained to me over the years about those sitters, the ones from which I am at least theoretically different. The ones on their phones all the time. Texting.
In a fascinating twist, sometimes I am one of those babysitters, because the I’m glued to my phone texting you. Yes, often the very same parents who grouse about lazy, phone using, texting sitters who would rather live amongst emojis than love and worship the most special child in Brooklyn for the precious scant few hours the two of you have together have powers of cognitive dissonance such that they can turn around and text me constantly while I am trying to care for their child. I don’t mean one or two check ins, I mean an unending barrage of tips, questions and requests. Usually these texts are “helpful”, perhaps reminding me that diapers should be changed when wet. Questioning me for the 45th time about how exactly I prepare a bottle of formula. Expecting me to snap pics of playtime on demand. Requesting documentation of every second I spend with your little snookums, who is probably waiting impatiently in his stroller as I pause on the way to the playground to address the fifteen texts you have sent me since I left your house. Which brings us to:
3. You Micromanage My Time With Your Child
Please tell me when your child should eat, sleep, take medicine, or do anything else for which scheduling matters. I will do what you tell me to do at the time you tell me to do it...within reason. If you tell me that your kid should go outside from 1:20-2:03 pm because that’s nebulously “good” and that while outside I should walk west for two blocks, then south, then pause by a rose bush whilst slowly bouncing your child in my arms, spritzing calming lavender and singing an improvised few verses of “Papa’s Gonna Buy You a Mocking Bird”...honestly? I’m just not going to do that. Save us both the time and stress and let your child and me decide whether we play Apples to Apples or Connect Four.
4. Surprise! You come home three hours early! (And don’t pay me for our agreed upon shift!)
Hooray! I can go home early! That’d be really great except I turned down another job to be here and honor my commitment to you and now make half the money I was counting on to pay my rent and eat and stuff. I also am not going home and now will be paying for the honor of staying out of the cold at a Starbucks while I kill time until the evening plans I scheduled around your day. So, actually, this kind of sucks.
5. You Fail To Inform Me Of Your Child’s Serious Medical Conditions
Tell me. Write it down. Stick it on the fridge. I don’t like the sensation of sinking dread that comes with a ten year old warning me that maybe his little sister shouldn’t eat that peanut butter prominently featured in your cupboard. If you have a child who could possibly be hospitalized if they eat something harmless to most people, especially a thing that your other kids eat that is in your kitchen, that's information I should have. This goes for any kids who come over for play dates as well.
6. You Share Too Much Of Your Personal Business
If we have a long term work relationship, I likely will see (and hear) some shit. I may witness arguments you have with your spouse about money or the kid or any other awkward, personal matter. But please don’t artificially expedite this intimacy by getting too real right off the bat about how your spouse--who is also my boss, probably--drinks too much, neglects responsibilities or otherwise endangers my sitting charge because, well, know how men/women are! No, I don’t - but I do know that everything’s a lot more awkward now.
7. You Subject Both Me And Your Poor Child To Baby Einstein
It’s fine to say your kid doesn't get any screen time. That is your decision. I have babysit for kids who never watch TV and - as nice as it is to get that viewing break (hey, I’m just being honest!) - I completely respect and will honor whatever limits you choose to impose.
But please don't forbid your kid from watching any movies, television or videos except Baby Einstein. Baby Einstein does not work. Baby Einstein is as good a tele-babysitter as Teletubbies or anything else featuring bright colors, simple music and babies, but is otherwise a scam. Baby Einstein is completely intolerable to watch as an adult unless you are on (really good) drugs (which your babysitter, hopefully, is not).
8. You Inflict Non-consensual Nudity On Me
Unless you’ve just been doused with lighter fluid, for the love of god, keep your clothes on around me! Excuse yourself to go change! Just because I see your kid’s bits doesn’t mean I’m comfortable seeing yours. We are not cool like that!
(Exceptions are obviously made if you are breastfeeding your child. That is a 100% valid reason to get partially nude in front of your babysitter.)
9. You Leave Me With No Diapers
Nothing like picking up a screaming, stinking baby, carting it to the changing table and discovering that there is nothing to change it into. Is this a Project Runway challenge? Because I am not a fashion designer and I am pretty sure I did not sign a release form. Is this a sadistic test of my survival skills?
If you can give me money and point me to a nearby facility at which I am authorized to purchase staples for your child and it is not blizzarding or hurricaning out, cool. Work that out with me. But don’t bounce leaving me in a house devoid of devices that will prevent your little angel from literally shitting all over everything you own without a discussion.
This rule also goes for baby wipes, formula, solid foods or anything else your child will need during my time with them.
10. You Don’t Pay Me On Time
Whatever our payment agreement may be, that’s what you need to stick with. If You pay me once a week, at the end of the work week, that’s fine. If you pay me at the end of each day, that’s fine. Cash, check, direct deposit--whatever we agreed on is fine.
What’s not fine is “whoops! I forgot cash, can I pay you...someday?” A better series of words coming out of your mouth might be “Do you want to walk with me to an ATM on your way to the train or is a personal check okay?” What is definitely not okay, ever, is floating a balance indefinitely without ongoing discussion of wtf is going on and when you are going to pay up.