Babysitter explains why parents need a time-out
Amanda Gillooly is a writer, editor, crazy cat lady and perennial winner of The Greatest Aunt in the Universe Award.
Listen, I know parenting is tough.
But let me blow your minds: Babysitting the kids you parent can be a challenge, too. And for some of you reading, it’s because you make it that way.
As a 30-something woman who has acted as babysitter to family, friends, acquaintances and, on occasion, complete strangers, I can tell you it is rarely your kids who misbehave on the babysitter’s dime.
Have no possible idea what I am talking about? Here are the most common infractions:
1. The Dirty Diaper Dis
Nothing makes me angrier than having to immediately deal with a dirty diaper upon your exit for the day or night.
And it’s not because I have an aversion to dirty diapers – it is one of myriad body substances that come with the territory.
I get angry because I wonder at what point you, as his mom or dad, knew he was wet and ignored it. I get angry when I think that you could possibly know your child was sitting in a urine or feces-filled diaper and decide, “You know what? The babysitter can deal with it.”
And before anyone unleashes their righteous indignation, this isn’t something that’s the exception. It’s generally the rule.
2. Separation Anxiety Anguish
Recently I was asked to babysit a woman’s two small children. When I got to the house, I was told to take the children to a neighbor’s house across the street to partake in a barbecue and that she would meet us over there before leaving for the night.
No problem! I take the kids over. I entertain them (and like, six other neighborhood kids) while Mom munched on a hotdog and chatted with the neighbors on the home’s upper deck.
Moments later, when the children ran up the steps to ask Mom a question I first hear one of the neighbors say, “Oh, your mom left, hon” followed by an ominous silence followed by…both children COMPLETELY melting down.
Fists were clenched. Faces contorted in fear and confusion – beet red. And then there was the wailing of both children.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! (sob, unitelligble crying),” they screamed.
“I WANT MY MOMMY!” they wailed.
I picked up the 2-year-old, and took the other child’s hand and walked them back to the house in an attempt to get them to calm down.
And I cursed Mom the whole time.
Because I get it: Sometimes it’s easier for kids to transition to a babysitter being there if Mom or Dad sneaks out while the kids are otherwise engaged.
But for this strategy to work, the babysitter should be an accomplice to this.
Otherwise, you’re just putting your friendly neighborhood kid wrangler in a bad spot.
3. Legal? Who Needs Legal?
This one might seem like absolute common sense, but obviously, if I am writing this column, the concept is lost on at least some people: Don’t ask your babysitter to do something illegal.
For instance: I was once asked to watch a woman’s kids until their father arrived to pick them up for the weekend.
No problems there – until Mom called me to let me know Dad didn’t want to pick up the kids there. “Just go ahead and drive them to my parents’ house,” she told me.
Again, no problem, except I don’t have a car seat for either child.
“It’s OK – just do it this once,” she said.
News flash: No, this is not OK. Don’t put your babysitter in this position.
What’s your babysitting pet peeve? Share it with me in the comments.