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Top Tips from a Babysitter

It doesn't take magic to foster a good relationship with your kids' sitter. Try this advice from a local babysitter in southeast Michigan

Even in tough times, there's still a need for the best babysitter in your budget. A modest night out to the movies, or even the occasional adults-only dinner party at a friend's house, as well as an unexpected late night at work – are all reasons to have a sitter you can trust.

But what are some good ways to foster, build and maintain that relationship? Here are five insights on making the connection better from local southeast Michigan nanny and college student Whitney Newman.

1. Trust the sitter. Newman had one experience when she was a morning sitter and the parent just couldn't leave. "The boy's mother really made it difficult by sticking around longer when he would cry, or coming back from work to take him (and myself) on errands. He then learned that the more he cried and put up a fuss, the more likely it was that mom would stay home or come back to see him. It was really hard for me to make a positive connection with him because whenever I was there, he wanted me to leave so his mom would come back."

2. Communicate, communicate! "I guess I would just say how essential it is to always keep lines of communication open between the nanny and the parents," Newman says. "I am always in touch with the boys' mom over the summer and she is very respectful of my position as the nanny, which I greatly appreciate."

3. Establish clear rules. Don't just leave the required list of safety tips, but also discuss and clearly write down the rules of the house – from where they can eat or snack to how you use time-outs.

4. Don't overburden the sitter. It's important to make your child's care the priority, not other tasks, like cleaning the house or doing errands.

5. Appreciate your sitter. Newman does some pretty creative games – like a treasure hunt – with her family's children. Show your appreciation not just in tips, but also with notes, maybe a baked good, or at least in words. Chances are the sitter will be back – again and again.

Sep 15, 2011 02:02 pm
 Posted by  TaritaB

As a professional nanny with over 28 years experience, and as the cofounder and codirector of the Michigan Professional Nanny Association, I'd like to add a few other tips for parents.

1. Pay a fair going rate. We realize that your money is important to you, but so is our time. We aren't trying to gouge you, and we shouldn't have to feel guilty for knowing our value.

2. Don't wait until the last minute. We love your kids, and if you treat us respectfully we probably love you too. But, we have our own lives and other claims on our time. If you constantly wait until the last minute (or even the last 24 hours) to call us to babysit, chances are we'll stop being available.

3. Know the difference between a babysitter and a nanny. And don't refer to your nanny as "the babysitter."

4. Don't ask the sitter to do what you won't do or don't want to do. If you aren't making your kid eat vegetables at dinner, don't insist that the sitter or nanny make it happen. If you pop the binky in your child's mouth every time he fusses, don't tell the nanny or sitter that the child can't have his binky during the day. More than anything, it's tough on your child...and most of us hate nothing more than being asked to make a child miserable that way.

5. Don't undermine. If you've given your sitter or nanny the authority to discipline (and your nanny SHOULD have this authority)...ie, removal of privileges, etc...then don't undermine her once you are back home. Don't you hate it when you've told the children, "No more TV tonight!" and your spouse comes in and puts them in front of a movie? So do we. If you have a problem with how it was handled, speak to us privately...we're usually happy to go back to a child and say, "I was wrong, I made a mistake, I can fix this." But please don't do that FOR us.

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