Your Babysitter: How to Have those Difficult Conversations

Ever wonder how to approach your babysitter when you have expectations you need to communicate? 4 great tips for how to have those tough conversations with your babysitter.

I did a lot of babysitting in my day. This doesn’t surprise you, right?

And I think I could consider myself a pretty great babysitter — I was well-trained and really loved the kids I was babysitting — but even so, there were still times that the parents of the kids I watched had to give me some correction and direction.

Like that time I thought it was okay to read my book for my middle school English class while the little girl I babysat watched a 30-minute DVD.

I was just sitting there watching Spot the Dog, thinking about how behind I was in The Twenty-One Balloons, when it suddenly occurred to me that I could maybe kill 2 birds with one stone…

I was a Mother’s Helper at the time, meaning the little girl’s Mom was working from home while I played with her daughter. So, of course she noticed that I was reading a book while her daughter watched TV… not exactly what she hired me to do.

She gently but firmly told me, “I would prefer you didn’t do your school work while babysitting my daughter. Remember that I am paying you to play with her… and she loves it when you do.”

That was enough to get the message across! I was a little embarrassed, and being a middle schooler I didn’t fully understand what the big deal was. But I was happy to do as she wished — after all, she was my boss!

Now, as a parent myself, I totally understand where she was coming from. And I have a couple tips to share with you in case you need to have a “hard conversation” with your babysitter. Perhaps she’s texting on the job or showing up late all the time? It’s time to have a little talk with her.

Top 4 Ways to Have Those Difficult Conversations

1. Explain Clearly

Make sure you outline your expectations clearly. If your sitter or nanny needs to follow a certain schedule with your child, make sure she has it written down.

Don’t assume your childcare provider will “just know” it or that it’s “obvious.” Just as Middle School Me didn’t think that it was a poor choice to read while the child watched a DVD, your babysitter might not realize your expectations until you communicate clearly and with kindness.

If you've got to have a tough conversation with your babysitter, be sure you communicate nicely and clearly.

2. Share the Why

Related to the above point, it might also help your childcare provider to know why you wish things to be done a certain way.

Perhaps your child needs to nap early so she won’t be awake at 11 o’clock at night. That’s not an unreasonable request, and if your sitter isn’t there at 11pm to know the consequence of a late nap… well, it would be almost impossible for her to understand without you telling her!

Plus, it can help get her on-board with your parenting style and philosophies, which makes your priorities sensible and valuable to her. That’s a wonderful asset for a sitter! 

If you have to have a tough conversation with your babysitter, be sure you explain why you want things done a certain way. It'll help get her on board with your parenting style.

3. Check in Regularly

Once you’ve discussed your expectations, you will want to follow up at a later date.

You can ask questions of your babysitter, such as, “What did my child have for a snack today?” Or you might want to ask older kids if they felt like the babysitter played with them or if she was on her phone the whole time.

This will give you a better idea of what’s going on while you’re out. You might also want the person who is babysitting to keep a daily journal — like this one — that you can review at your convenience.

Make sure you follow up with your babysitter after having a hard conversation. Caring improves your relationship with her and will help you feel more at ease that it's going well.

4. Don’t Avoid Difficult Conversations

Conversations like this can be a little bit uncomfortable, especially if you tend to avoid conflict like me! But ultimately, talking about it is more fair to your sitter and could help keep you from having to find alternate babysitting arrangements.

By treating your babysitter like the employee that she is, it will help her learn what’s expected when on the job — and prepare her for the work force in the future. Treating her like an adult will help her rise to the responsibility and standards you have when she’s taking care of your children.

Don't avoid the tough conversations with your babysitter. It's a disservice to her as an employee and a person, plus nothing gets resolved if you don't discuss!

If you find she’s still unable to abide by your wishes or you feel uncomfortable with her even after you’ve had a fair discussion, it might be time to find another well-trained sitter. Use your best judgment when it comes to who takes care of your kids!

(Note: Affiliate links included, because we’re Smart Kids, too! 🙂 )

Have you ever had to have difficult conversations with your child care provider?  Do you have any tips to share? Tell us below in the comments! 

READ NEXT: Can a Boy Be a Babysitter?

About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!

14 thoughts on “Your Babysitter: How to Have those Difficult Conversations”

  1. Remy says:

    Hello again Aubrey, Now I must thank you for this article. I had never hired a nanny or babysitter for my children, and I know that once I move to the states I will consider this option because I’m planning to go back to workforce. After reading the article now I can work on what I would expect from the person I would hire.

    You visited Busy Mom Monologues™ through #shinebloghop and I’m returning the blog love….

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      Glad you found it helpful! I’ve got more posts like this on what to expect from your babysitter or child’s caregiver. I hope your transition to the states and back into the workforce goes well. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  2. What a great and helpful resource! I haven’t had to hire a babysitter yet. We have family nearby and if no one can watch the kids, then we don’t go out.

    I know there will come a time we’ll need one though. I’m definitely saving this for future reference.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      Thanks, and to you! Glad you’re saving it for future reference… you never know when you might need to hire a sitter. So glad you have family nearby who can help out. That’s so fantastic!

  3. Vicki Lesage says:

    Great tips! I babysat for years but it’s different once you’re the parent!

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      So, SO true! I am in the same boat, and sometimes (now as the parent) I wonder how anyone ever trusted me to babysit. And I was a pretty responsible kid! That’s the idea behind our Babysitting 101 program — making sure these teens are equipped properly so parents don’t have to worry or wonder. Ya know? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. Ai says:

    A very practical and helpful post! I’ll keep in mind next time we hire babysitters. The hard part is when our babysitters are family members, particularly the grandparents, who don’t always abide by our rules. Tough conversations are even tougher with them; ones that I sometimes would rather avoid. BTW, thanks for stopping by my blog the other day! 🙂

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      Ooh, that does make it more tricky. We have our fair share of grandparent-sitters, too, and I’ve just had to let some things slide occasionally. What happens at Grandma’s stays at Grandma’s, you know? (Although I will say that our Grandmas are more than helpful in upholding our core rules/values… and I’m not just saying that because one of the grandmas is the other half of this blog… and they both read it. Ahem.) But I totally know what you mean! And you’re welcome for the blog visit the other day — I’m following you now and looking forward to what you have to share. Thanks for visiting me back. 🙂

  5. Adrian says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips with us at the Teach Me Tuesday Linky Party! Hope you’re able to join us again this Tuesday:)

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      You’re welcome! Thanks for hosting the Linky Party. It’s a great resource! 🙂

  6. Carrie says:

    I’ve been lucky and we’ve had some great sitters, but it’s true that they really are employees and that their #1 job is to care for the child. We had a nanny for my son when I used to work from home and she was awesome…we just told her from the beginning how much TV he was allowed to watch, what was/was not okay, etc. and luckily, she was amazing.

    Thanks for sharing these great tips. Pinned! And thanks for linking up at Wordy Wednesday!

    1. Aubrey Hunt says:

      That’s great, Carrie. I bet your sitter really appreciated knowing the expectations up-front, too. Way to communicate! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by again! Have a great weekend.

Comments are closed.