I realize a lot of this information will not apply to all sitters and situations. The girls I interviewed are rising seniors, can drive, are good students and generally spectacular people. They also are southern girls, so if you are reading this from Minnesota, well I don’t know. Maybe teenagers are different out there.
All that to say, this information isn’t from the sitters who trash your house when you leave or make out with their boyfriends in front of the kids or steal your iPod from your dresser drawer. These are the good girls, the kind of sitters you want to have. So even if all girls don’t think this way, I hope this will give you a good handle on what they could be thinking and maybe help you become the family all the sitters want to sit for.
They don’t like to talk on the phone. This really works out for me, because neither do I. And even though I still feel 18 on the inside, to them I’m a grown-up and it’s awkward. For the past year, I have gotten almost all my sitters scheduled through Facebook. They tell me they like this. A lot. Texting works, too. Any sitter I’ve ever texted gets back to me within minutes, which is about a quarter of the time it took me to actually enter the text. Do they have texting classes? Because I totally need lessons.
If when you read “facebook” and “texting” you decided there was no hope left for you in the world, chin up. If you have to make the call, give them all the information and then say something like Call me back when you know if you’re available. Even if we don’t expect an answer right away, they think we do. And they haven’t been around long enough to know they can say I’ll get back to you. They told me it really helps when parents do this because it gives them time to plan and think about their schedule.
When the sitter arrives, don’t linger. I was shocked at how adamant these girls were about this. In fact, it is worthy of a quote: “It’s awkward. Awk. Ward.” There’s that word again. Basically, they all said when they arrive for a job and the parents are leaving but haven’t left yet, they don’t know if we are still in charge or if we expect them to be in charge. They are basically just as worried about us watching them as we are about them liking us. Go figure.
Do you like to have sitters arrive early on purpose so you can get ready without having fighting children watch you shower or pluck your eyebrows? They said it is much less awkward if there is a simple plan, like a puzzle or game for them to do while you get ready. That way the sitter doesn’t feel like she has to dance a jig to keep the kids happy while you’re still in the house and the kids can have their minds occupied if they are reluctant to let you leave.
If they say they ate before they came, don’t believe them. Even though I did it too when I would babysit, I was still shocked to realize these girls feel guilty about eating our food. If something is traceable, chances are they won’t touch it, like things that come individually wrapped. They eat lots of chips and crackers that come in bags because those foods are all jumbled up and are more anonymous. They would never drink a juice box or touch something that hasn’t been opened, unless the parents said the kids could have them. And even then, it’s risky.
If y’all are anything like me, you would hope that your sitters wouldn’t starve themselves while at your house. But if they aren’t sure it’s okay to eat, they simply won’t. So help a girl out. Put signs on the Breyers that say “Eat me, Sitter!” They will thank you for it.
Believe it or not, there is more. Check back in the next few days to find out who the sitter calls when she has questions. Hint: it ain’t you, sister.