An Open Letter to Babysitters

First things first: This is NOT written for the grandmas, grandpas, nanas, gigis, grandads, aunties, uncles, etc. of the world that offer up their services to us for free on a Saturday night. Or who have sleepovers for our kids. To them I just say, THANK YOU! Our kids’ relatives are supposed to spoil them like crazy and “whatever happens at grandma’s, stays at grandma’s!” – right?!?!

This post is for PAID babysitters. Those that we EMPLOY for an afternoon or evening to come into our home and take care of our children while we escape go out for a bit. This letter is not directed at any one sitter. Andy and I have used quite a few paid sitters over the past 6 years and I have heard earfuls from other moms recently while trying to my gather thoughts for this post. And yes, sitters probably won’t read this. However, moms of sitters or soon-to-be sitters will.

Dear Sitter,

Thank you for even wanting to be a sitter. I’d say babysitter, but my kids now correct me every time because they insist they are no longer babies. But in my eyes, I am still leaving my babies with you while I am gone. Being a sitter is hard work. I get it. All through high school and college I was a babysitter for a number of families whose children I really loved. See the photo below? The tall guy? That’s the little brother of the three. And I first babysat them when he was probably 4 if I remember correctly. And 17 years later, I still keep up with all three of them the best I can and we try to visit at Christmas. So here are things I learned through both my own experiences as way-back-then a sitter and now a mother…and also from other moms willing to give me their two cents.


Sitters, the number one thing to remember is we LOVE when you are genuinely interested in our kids. That means a lot to us. To us this means you actually want to play with them and entertain them. You don’t have to bring your own bag of crafts (most of us have our own supplies in stock!), but that’s always an added bonus for us.

Our kids always ask for the sitters who do crafts and play board games.

We love when you are a few minutes early and “dive right in”. You engage with the kids immediately and get them involved in something quickly so it makes it easier for us to finish getting ready and get out of there. After you intently listen to any directions, things-to-note, routines, etc. of course!

Now-a-days we love and loathe technology. We love that we can contact you easily to schedule babysitting with a quick text. We love that if you have a quick concern/question while babysitting, you can text us and not interrupt a dinner or movie. (However, we are ALWAYS willing to answer an actual phone call!) Some of us realize that our kids go to bed very early and you might want to be on social media or get on your laptop and study once they are all tucked in for the night. Most of us are even willing to share our WiFi passwords.

None of us like when it’s the first question you ask when we meet you.

And none of us like seeing our kids’ photos on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. without our permission.

We know you think our kids are cute, because we think they are the cutest. But most of us have internet limits. Just remember as our kids get older, they do tell on you. So if you are spending all of the time on your phone texting your friends, we know.

When it comes to the television and game systems and screen time, every household is different. The biggest thing I have noticed here is to pay attention to the parents’ limits. If there is a time limit or a channel/website limit, adhere to it. Again, kids tell. Kids.tell.all.

Messes. This can be tricky. In talking to some other moms…

We LOVE when you make messes with our kids.

Toy messes, arts and crafts messes, blanket fort messes, rainbow loom rubber band messes, etc. This tells us you are PLAYING with our kids. And if we come home DURING that mess, so be it. One mom actually came home to a table full of painted artwork, paints, brushes & a yarn maze taped from the walls in the living room. She told me it was a total mess to clean up BUT her girls had so much fun that she tipped that sitter the most ever despite the mess. However, if we come home when the kids have been in bed HOURS after that mess and we still see it, we don’t love it as much. Catch-22, right? Well…

If you are at our house for the entire evening and putting our kids to bed, we do expect that mess to be picked up and the house pretty much back in the state it was before we left. Mainly because we know our kids should be helping you pick up. Most of us have said to the kids, “Make sure you clean up before bedtime” before we even walked out the door. And you know what? Our kids often listen to others better than they listen to us. So use those words and it will work wonders.

Speaking of bedtime…

We LOVE a sitter that sticks to bedtimes.

Nothing irritates us more than coming home and finding our kids awake when they should be fast asleep. Why do you think we go out at night? We want a break from the bedtime routine. We want someone else to read Goodnight Moon five times. Or when a kid tells us the next day that they watched an entire movie and we know there wasn’t enough time for it before bedtime. Sometimes we have plans the next day that require a rested kid. Don’t mess with that.

And once the kids are in bed? Most of us don’t expect it (shockingly), but many of us LOVE a sitter who will clean up the kitchen. If the table and counters are wiped off and the crumbs from dinner are no longer on the floor, we (sadly) often pay you extra. Apparently long-gone are the days when this was just expected – heck, I used to actually wash and put away the dinner dishes. So if you really want to shock the parents, load the dishwasher.

And finally it’s time to pay you. WOW. Pay ranges vary family to family. Budgets are just different. And although many expectations are similar, some are still different. And how we rate a sitter can be different…How old is the sitter? Does the sitter drive? Does the sitter do the minimum expected? Does the sitter go above and beyond? How long were the kids even awake? Are the kids potty trained? Are the kids difficult? Is the sitter requested to come back by the kids? I could go on and on. If we pay you above your rate, we are begging you to return we are often tipping you to show you that you are liked. However, if we don’t, that doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t doing a good job. Some people can’t afford to tip and some just choose not to. If we or our kids don’t think you are a fit, you won’t be asked back to our house.

Overall, we want our kids happy. So if you remember one thing…

We love the sitters who enjoy our kids.

My kids have two favorites right now. One who loves to play board games and create rainbow loom bracelets with them. The other always plays beauty salon – hair and nails! (No, Henry is not left out.)

Thanks to all of the great sitters out there…we couldn’t escape without you!




What did I forget?

What do you LOVE about a babysitter?

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