How to Keep Your Favorite Babysitter From Being Poached By The Joneses
By Holly Burns of Nothing But Bonfires
So you’ve found her: the perfect babysitter. She’s smart, responsible, reliable, and you suspect the kids might actually love her more than they love you. The good news is that you can accept dinner invitations left, right, and center now that someone you trust is holding down the fort. The bad news is that if she’s that good, someone else is going to snap her up soon, and then she won’t be able to watch your kids this Friday night—or next Friday night or the Friday night after that—because she’ll be watching someone else’s.
How to keep her around? Why, it’s actually surprisingly easy. Take it from a former babysitter who always chose her jobs wisely.
Find out what she likes to eat—Cheetos? Cherries? Cream cheese on organic rice cakes?—and then keep it on hand. Make sure she knows that pint of Phish Food has her name all over it—or hey, take a Sharpie and actually write her name all over it—so she doesn’t feel like she’s sneaking around in your kitchen cupboards. Just knowing you bought that bumper back of Twizzlers all for her will go a long way to keep her sweet.
2. Pay Well—Or At Least Pay Fairly
One well-behaved fifth-grader at night does not command the same rate as four rambunctious preschoolers in the middle of the day: make adjustments accordingly. Round up when you’re paying by the hour, and never hand your sitter a twenty and then ask her to drop the change in your mailbox the next day. (True story: someone did that to me once. The calculator said she only owed me $19.25, so that’s all she was going to pay me. I had to drive back over there in the morning to leave her seventy-five cents in an envelope.)
3. Come Home When You Say You Will
Sure, emergencies crop up, but if you promise you won’t be later than midnight, don’t be later than midnight.
4. Never Ask Her To Pick Up Your Dry Cleaning
She’s your babysitter, not your housekeeper. Picking your kid up from soccer practice once in a while is fine if you’ve agreed upon it, but asking her to throw a load of laundry in or tackle a list of errands is the quickest way to get blacklisted. Sure, you might multi-task, but that doesn’t mean she has to.
5. Be Cool
Leave her money to order pizza for dinner. Grab an Us Weekly at the grocery store and leave it on the coffee table. Once you know she won’t throw a kegger in your living room, make it clear that you don’t mind if her boyfriend comes over to keep her company after the kids are asleep. And don’t forget to talk to her about her life. After all, you’re in a great position: you’re hipper than her mom, but you’re still old and worldly enough to offer advice on guys or friends or school. Everyone needs a cool aunt. Be that cool aunt.
Published September 24, 2008. Last updated June 27, 2018.