Should a Babysitter Just Babysit or Do More?
People often ask me how I get anyone to babysit for our 5 kids so my husband and I can go out at night. It’s easy. I just tell the sitter I have two kids and after we are already out, I text her, “Oh by the way, there are three more kids sleeping upstairs!”
Okay, I haven’t done that. Yet. The truth is – it’s not hard to find sitters at all. We usually hire teenagers (age 16 and up) and it’s a great gig. We put our 2 year old to sleep, our 5 year old twins go to bed shortly after we leave and that pretty much leaves watching TV and playing some games with our two tween daughters until they go to bed. And then lots and lots of free time until we arrive home.
But it’s when we do get home that I can get just a little bit irritated.
Because we walk into a kitchen filled with dirty dishes and a living room with scattered boardgames and toys… And our sitter on the couch – happily texting.
In fact, almost every Saturday night, we go out and almost every Saturday night, we come home to the same mess. And I just don’t get why the babysitter doesn’t take a 10 minute break from the iPhone or watching TV to neaten up.
I’m not looking for her to be on the floor scouring or reorganizing our pantries. But throw the dishes in the dishwasher, put the games away and straighten a few pillows.
Back when I used to babysit (long, long ago. Like medieval times.), this was common practice. At least for me and my high school friends. We had jobs where we played with kids, tucked them in and then basically got to watch TV and eat other people’s snacks for the rest of the night. If they had cable too, I was in heaven!
But I always straightened up and cleaned the dishes during the commercials. Even though no one asked me to do it. Because I figured it was part of my job. And because I wanted to make sure I got hired again.
But we employ a lot of sitters and very rarely does anyone do this. Okay, never.
I try to reason with myself….
They are there to save my kids in the event of an emergency! True, but any reason they can’t wipe down the counters while waiting for the emergency?
They are there to babysit, not clean. Perhaps but any sitter during the day would always be responsible for cleaning up a bit and maybe even folding kids’ laundry.
They are not mind readers. Why don’t you just ask them to do it? This is valid. But for some reason, I feel awkward asking them to do light housekeeping chores when I’m out galavanting around town.
But it’s true. People aren’t mind readers. And sure, I’d like my sitters to have a magical work ethic that would immediately propel them to neaten up, but you know what? Maybe I need to communicate exactly what I want in a very nice way.
Like, “Hey, once you get the kids to sleep if you wouldn’t mind just throwing these dishes from their dinner in the dishwasher and putting away the games they played with. Thanks!”
See that wasn’t so hard.
And I’d be happy to pay them a few extra bucks for doing it.
Plus maybe I’m teaching them a valuable lesson about going the extra mile for any job.
So what do you think? Do you expect a babysitter to only care for your children or do you want them to do some associated light clean up too? Thoughts?