Monday, November 21, 2011

The Quest for a Baby-Sitter Who Puts the Pizza in the Fridge

My husband and I went out on another couples' date over the weekend.  (Wow, going out 2 weekends in a row.  Maybe I'm not such a party pooper!)  We don't really have a regular baby-sitter so we borrowed one for the night.  This girl was a sweet, responsible, married, 20-something-year old who works in a preschool and is studying to become a teacher.  Sounds like the perfect sitter right?



Wrong.  I paid this sweet, responsible girl $10 an hour to do nothing.  She sat on the couch and watched television for 3 hours.  My children are old enough that she didn't have to change diapers or warm bottles or listen to colicky screams.  She came over late enough that she wasn't required to feed them or bathe them.  And according to my very informative 7-year-old, she chose not to read to them, play with them, or even have a conversation with them.  I basically forked over $30 for her presence.  When I returned, she was still on the couch watching tv in one room, while my children  (still awake at 9:30!) watched tv in another room.  It pained me to give her money.



But she's hardly the only baby-sitter I've encountered who behaves this way.  It seems that every baby-sitter I use thinks it's acceptable to park the kids in front of the television for movies and video games until it's time for bed.  When I was a baby-sitter, I actually played with the children.  We colored, we played board games and hide and seek, I read them stories.  Even at the age of 12, I knew I was being paid for a particular service, and that service did not include ignoring the children.



I often tell people that the sign of a good baby-sitter is a pizza box in the fridge.  I typically order pizza for the sitter and the kids to eat for dinner, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect the sitter to simply shove the box of leftover slices in the refrigerator.  My theory is that if she's thoughtful enough to put away the pizza, then she's more likely to do other thoughtful things like wash the dinner plates and clean up toys and oh, I don't know, interact with the kids.  These are all tasks I was quite capable of doing at the age of 12.  Most of the sitters I've used have graduated from high school and live on their own.  Don't they clean up after themselves in their own homes?  Would they leave the uneaten pizza sitting on their kitchen counter and wait for someone else to clean it up?



I had one baby-sitter who was amazing.  She brought a craft book and made origami with the kids.  She drew pictures for them.  She limited their television viewing.  She played Candy Land with them.  She read them bedtime stories.  She washed the dishes.  She cleaned up the toys (or made them clean up their own toys which is a feat that should have doubled her pay!).  And not only did she put the pizza in the fridge, but she located my tin foil and individually wrapped each slice.  That's a girl who earned her $10 an hour.  Sadly, we were only able to use her once before she left for college.  But she set the standard high, and no sitter since has been able to fill her shoes.



When I mentioned my frustration on Facebook yesterday, several friends wrote in and told me about Sittercity.com, an online source for finding baby-sitters and nannies.  And the best part is that they offer free memberships to military families!  I'm now signed up and making a list of potential sitters that have completed background checks and are certified in childhood CPR and First Aid.  And because they're seeking good reviews from parents on the website, I'm pretty sure these ladies will do more than catch up on their Lifetime movies.



I'm hoping this new avenue of sitter hunting will change my now tainted view of this generation of baby-sitters.  I'm hoping I can find a baby-sitter who actually likes her job, who can give me a reason to dish out all that cash, who can maybe even be a regular, positive fixture in my children's lives.   But honestly, at this point, I'll take one who'll simply put the pizza in the fridge.



Do you have a regular baby-sitter you love and trust or have you had sitter trouble like me?  Have you ever used Sittercity.com?  What are your thoughts?

14 comments:

  1. I've used SitterCity and had great experiences. I typically look for sitters that have had background checks, but I did hire one girl that didn't have one and she was terrific with my boys. We have a hard time keeping sitters, though, because we move so much!

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  2. I haven't used sittercity.com, but I have heard from others who have. Most have had very positive things to say about it. Good luck! I would have been annoyed as well if that is all the sitter decided to do.

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  3. Before I left for college, I was a nanny for a family in my neighborhood. I basically lived at their house from early morning until dinner-time and a couple nights per week I would stay there so mom and dad could go out or take care of errands and such.

    The biggest thing I learned during that time was how much the little things matter. You have to care of those dirty dishes and picking up the toys. You have to actually be with the kids and spend time with them. In my case, I helped with homework and created craft projects and even had meal plans for the weeks.

    Those babysitters are out there, but there are so many lazy ones that it's hard to find the quality sitters. Keep your head up, you will find one you love!

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  4. I am terrified for the baby sitter hunt. Right now we live in the same town as my parents so it's easy but once we move in February I know I'll be super picky about who watches our daughter.

    I hope you find a good babysitter!

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  5. I've always wondered about using Sittercity.com, so I'm anxious to hear how it works for you! We've never had a babysitter before, but I think I'm to the point where I NEED one! I remember playing with the kids that I babysat and reading to them, I don't think that's too much to ask for someone who's getting $10 an hour (is that the rate these days? yikes!).

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  6. We never use a babysitter (well, just my dad), but that would make me upset! I would tell her when she got there, "We don't like the kids watching more than 30 minutes (or whatever) of TV at night. I babysat all the time when I was younger (around 12), and it never even occurred to me to turn on the TV all night- we went outside, we read stories, etc. I feel sorry for her future kids!

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  7. We love our babysitter because when our son sees her, he lights up like a little firefly and whines and leans over to her with his arms outstretched. Sometimes, he shows off for her and goes and gets all of his toys for her. It's sooo cute. She is very laid back though and rarely cleans ANYthing. The house is destroyed when we get home. My Husband gets irritated by this, but I take it as a sign that she is playing with him. I am terrified because we are moving next month and will know nobody. Goodbye date nights :)

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  8. I used sittercity for a wedding the hubby and I went to yesterday, and I hit the jackpot. Not only did my sitter take my kids to the park, she colored with them, ordered pizza, played games, and watched Finding Nemo so they could settle down before we picked them up.
    I was so relieved when the kids didn't want to leave her house.

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  9. I've used sittercity, and I can't say that I've had positive experience but I haven't really had negative experience either. So we've used the same sitter twice, really sweet girl. The first experience I thought went great...althought I mean she didn't do the dishes nor clean up the house BUT in her defense I did tell her that she didnt have to make sure the toys were all picked up. The second time around...we came home to our daughter with NO diaper on running around, toys everywhere, construction paper everwhere...and mind you I had even texted her prior to our arrival to let her know that we would be home soon. Common sense would mean: Straighten up the house. Needless to say we won't use her again, although she was a sweet girl whom is a summer camp counselor in the summer. Her reasoning for our daughter being diaperless: She wouldn't let me put on her diaper. My daughter is only 3...what do you mean she wouldn't let you put on her diaper. Geez! I've yet to look for another sitter again, I'm just petrified!

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  10. I used two sitters from Sittercity: one worked for us once and then bailed on us the next two times she was supposed to work.Tsk tsk.

    We hit the jackpot with the second one. Even though I couldn't offer her enough hours and she ended up getting a full time job, we are still in touch and she'd totally help me out in a pinch if I needed her. LOVE that girl!

    When I used to babysit, I only turned the TV on after the kids were in bed. It was a bit of shock to discover just how much things have changed since then. Good luck on your search!

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  11. Gosh this makes me scared for the future!


    I used to babysit all the time from the age of 9 on... for my brother and for other families. If I was at another house I ALWAYS cleaned up from dinner (even did the dishes) and played with the kids. Bedtime was on time and I would read them a story if they wanted one. I even would bring craft projects to the house sometimes so mom and dad would have a surprise waiting for them, besides a clean house!

    Once the kids were in bed I would break out a book or watch tv. Then and ONLY then!

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  12. I have yet to use that particular site. But my issue is trusting anyone with my kids. It might sound extremely overprotective, but my daughter is my life. It is really difficult to trust anyone with my daughter. At least for right now if I need her to be with someone she can be with my sister since we are currently stationed here where we are together. We also have a few family members who don't live to far out. At least for now our daughter goes and does everything with us.

    Hope you find that awesome "ideal" babysitter that we're looking for too lol. Really stumped on finding someone one can trust.

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  13. I've used Sittercity a few times and have had very positive results! I like how you have background checks run on the sitters, you can read reviews and request references. Plus, I love how it is free for military families :)

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  14. i leave a list and tell them I told my children you would do A B C with them and then they can... but the TV is not allowed on in our home.

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