Parents, Don’t Do This to Your Babysitter

little girl screamingI would love to hear from parents who allow their children to stay up until they get home when they have a babysitter.  I cannot understand why a parent would do this.  Don’t we hire a babysitter for the night so that we can go out and get a break from caring for our children?  Then why, after a relaxing night out, would anyone want to come home and deal with getting their kids to bed?

First, let me say that hiring a babysitter that you trust to care for your children so that you can have a “break” or just enjoy adult time with your spouse or friends, is not a crime.  In fact, it is very healthy.

Long gone are the days when you could hire a sitter for $1.00 an hour.  But also, in most cases, long gone are the days when it was acceptable for a babysitter to sit on the sofa, watch TV, and talk to her friends on the phone all night.  These days, many babysitters, nannies, and other child care providers get paid minimum wage or more (and sometimes much more), and so they are expected to do more.

Parents should expect that the sitter will engage their children, by either playing with them, reading to them, or interacting with them in some other positive way.  Also, parents should expect to come home to find their house in the same condition as it was in when they left, and if it is late, their children safely in bed and sound asleep.

Telling your children that they may stay up until you get home gives you extra work to do after your night out when you have already paid someone else to do this for you. Also, the children will have the expectation that this will happen every time there is a sitter, so beware if you ever need to hire a babysitter on a school night.  Another reason that allowing the children to stay up until you get home may not be the best choice, is that most children get cranky, whiny and/or just harder to deal with when they are tired, so by allowing them to stay up hours past their regular bedtime, you may have set your babysitter up for disaster.

The Babysitting Lady

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How to Entertain “Hyper” Kids

entertain hyper kidsI had a reader ask me this question recently and I know she is not the only one out there with this issue.  How do you entertain hyper kids?  First of all, some kids who are perceived as hyperactive actually have ADHD and some are just “busy.”  No matter the cause, the question remains the same – how do you occupy them without wearing yourself out completely.

  • First, the most obvious – is there a yard to run around in or a park nearby?  If so, let them run off some energy or play with a ball.  If it is just a small yard and only one child, try telling the child you will time him to see how fast he can run from one side of the yard to the other and back.  Then tell him to do it again to see if he can break his record.  Keep going and get very excited each time he breaks his record.
  • If there is nowhere to run around, play “Simon Says” in the house.  Simon can say do jumping jacks, run in place, hop on one foot, jump forward and backward.  But Simon doesn’t have to do it too, as long as Simon says “Simon says  ________”  That can keep you from wearing yourself out.
  • Do hands on things like coloring or making crafts.
  • Make “musical instruments” out of household items and recyclables such as paper towel tubes, empty tissue boxes with different size elastics around them, pots for drums etc. Then have a parade.
  • Play in a darkened room with flashlights.  Make shadow puppets on the wall, see what happens when you cover the light with your fingers, or cut snowflakes out of paper (using safety scissors of course) and shine the flashlight through the holes to see the shapes on the wall.
  • Dance, dance, dance!  Put on some music and dance.  With more than one active child, you can have a dance-a-thon and the one who dances the longest wins.  With just one child, you can let him dance and tell him to freeze when you shut off the music and make a game out of it.
  • Prepare the area carefully and then play with some water.  Kids love to play with water but it can make a real mess indoors so be sure to bring some old towels to put down.  You can either have the child put on a swimsuit and sit in the bathtub with a large plastic bowl of water, or put a few inches of water in the sink or in a bowl on the floor.  You might want to change the child into other clothes first.  Give the child some plastic cups and toys to play with in the water and maybe even a spoon, ladle, and some small plastic bowls.  Make sure you watch the child at all times!

Feel free to comment below if you have some helpful ideas to add to this list!  Good Luck entertaining your hyper kids and happy babysitting!

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Parents, find babysitters or nannies with experience entertaining your “busy” child here.

What is “Television Safety?”

Parents often purchase parental controls for their televisions and computers to help keep their kids safe from online predators or from viewing inappropriate material.  But, that’s not the type of “television safety” I’m discussing here.

Typically, when new parents childproof their home, they secure cabinet doors, toilet lids, refrigerator doors, and they buy doorknob covers, outlet covers, pool covers you can walk on, etc.   But, what most people forget to secure or put a gate around is the television set.

These days a 13 inch television is probably hard to come by.  Most families are upgrading to gigantic flat screen TVs that are child hazard30-60 inches wide or more!  These massive giants are relatively light weight in comparison to the older “tube” televisions.

The problem with this is that because they are so light weight, so thin, and so wide, they topple quite easily.  When I say that they are light weight, I am referring to it being lifted by an adult.  However, when it is knocked over and falls on a small child it doesn’t seem so light at all.  This type of accident can cause serious injury and even death.

Flat screen TVs should be mounted or secured to the wall with furniture wall straps if possible if you have small children.  If the television cannot be mounted or secured in this fashion, then a play yard gate can be used to block off the entire area around the TV.

When you consider television safety in this way, don’t forget about book shelves and bureaus as well.  Many children are “climbers” and will attempt to climb anything that has edges they can use as handles or footholds.

Babysitters and nannies need to be aware of this as well as parents.  Television safety is probably not something parents would remember to warn the babysitter about before going out for the night.  In fact, it may not be a danger they’ve ever even considered themselves. 

Sitters shouldn’t rely on parents to warn them of every possible danger.   They need to be aware that almost anything can be dangerous to mobile babies, toddlers and small children.  Therefore, a responsible sitter should do a quick scan of each room the children have access to and be aware of any possible dangers.

This is one of the main reasons that you should never leave infants, babies, and small children unattended for even a few minutes.  Accidents can happen in a fraction of a second and the cause may be something you never even considered dangerous.

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Baby Sound Machine – Should you use one

My sister came to help me right after my first baby was born.  Between having the baby delivered by Cesarean section, being asound machine first time mom, and having some anxiety issues due to the huge hormonal changes that had taken place in my body, I felt helpless.  She had already had three children so she seemed like an old pro at this baby stuff.  She came over almost every day for the first couple of weeks to give me a hand. 

I learned a very important lesson from my sister on the first day she was there.  I was only supposed to climb the stairs once a day to go to bed at night due to the surgery.  So I put the baby in her bassinet in a room just off the kitchen during the day for naps. 

The first time I put her down for a nap when my sister was over, I came out into the kitchen to where my sister was washing the dishes and I said “Shhhhhh the baby’s sleeping!”  My sister looked at me and said, “Are you nuts?!!!”

She then began explaining to me that if I kept the house silent every time the baby went to sleep, then I was going to have to keep the house silent  every time the baby went to sleep.  She explained that little things beyond my control like the telephone ringing or the doorbell etc. would startle the baby and wake her up if the house was silent.  Also, I would be limited as far as what I could do while she slept. 

My sister suggested that during nap-time and bedtime, that I throw a load of laundry in the washing machine, a load of dishes in the dishwasher, vacuum, etc.   So then any sudden loud noises wouldn’t wake the baby.  This advice always served me well with both of my children.  

In some homes where I babysit, the parents have actually purchased a Sound Machine to keep from having the infant sleep in total silence for the same reasons.  Many children still use them through the toddler and preschool years.

Some of these are called “white noise machines” and that’s exactly what they do.  They just make that fuzzy background noise that helps to blend louder sounds so they don’t startle a sleeping baby (or adult).

There are other types of sound machines as well, that have different settings for sounds like rain, a babbling brook, ocean waves crashing on the beach, etc.  Some even have classical music settings.

Some people argue that it makes the child dependent on sound to fall asleep.  But, by using the volume control, it should be very easy to wean a baby or child off the sound machine by making it quieter and quieter each night until it is no longer audible.

As I mentioned, a sound machine isn’t necessary; you can make background noise by simply cleaning the house or listening to music.  So, babysitters and nannies as well as parents, don’t feel like you have to tiptoe around the house once the baby or kids are asleep. 

Any type of noise in the background, whether it was the washing machine, dishwasher, vacuum, or music while my children slept, gave me the ability to get so much done without disturbing them.  Thanks for the words of wisdom Sis!

The Babysitting Lady

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From Babysitting Camp to Nanny Agencies: Teaching Child Care to Kids

Pleasant Grove class shows kids how to sit

You can hire either a babysitter or a nanny to watch over your children, with the latter usually having more responsibilities than the former. Regardless of your choice, the most important thing is to find someone who can keep your kids happy and safe—a challenge for any parent, let alone a complete stranger. Cathy Alfred of the Daily Herald shares interesting news about a babysitting day camp in Pleasant Grove, Utah to aspiring nannies, babysitters, and other child care providers who could someday work in respected nanny agencies.

The camp is named Babysitting TLC, and the staff aims to impart crucial child care tips, tricks, and know-how to the students. Most parents who opt for child care services usually assume that the people they hire are experts in the field. The truth is that some of them are simply not prepared for the job’s challenges. The babysitting camp organizer hopes that through its classes, it can prepare kids aged ten to 15 to face the demands of caring for their younger siblings and/or the children of their neighbors (for a fee).

Courses similar to those offered by the camp can set up some of the kids for potentially lucrative careers—some professional nannies earn as much as $180K a year—in the nanny services industry. Such classes will also make it easier for parents to find a trustworthy person to cover for them when they need to attend to something else.

Another bit of welcome news is that the camp accepts both girls and boys. It’s common knowledge that male nannies are few and far between, but the attitude toward “mannies” is taking a more positive direction. Whether you entrust your children to a boy or a girl, what’s important is that he or she has knowledge of the basics, such as changing diapers, feeding the children, helping them brush their teeth, putting kids to sleep, etc.

Looking for nannies or babysitters can be tough, especially when it’s done at the last minute and when you still have to filter the good candidates from the bad. Fortunately, babysitting camps are helping shape the best child care providers of tomorrow. They can become an asset to nanny agencies or child care resource centers like the Baby Sitting World, where trusted sitters or nannies can be contacted quickly.

You may have the best child care skills in the world, but there will always come a time when you will have to let somebody else take the reins. Choosing a babysitter or a nanny is a crucial decision, and while camps like the one mentioned above make the process easier, you should never disregard the possibility of asking help from those with experience. 

Babysitting Tip – Go Above and Beyond

Have you ever heard the term “going the extra mile,” or “going above and beyond the call of duty?”  Well, if you really want to impress  Girl in pjsyour babysitting clients this is what you’ve got to do, especially if you have a lot of competition.  If you think babysitting is just getting the kids to bed and then watching TV for the rest of the night, you couldn’t be more wrong!

If you truly want to make the most money you can babysitting and get the most jobs possible, then you need to be head and shoulders above the competition.  You need the kids to beg their parents to go out just so you can babysit!  You need the parents to be bragging to other parents about how they have the best babysitter in the world!  You need to actually be the best!

How do you do this?  First, always be on time.  Next, provide the best care you can.  Get trained in CPR and first aid if possible.  Always clean up after yourself, and be sure to play with the kids and interact with them.  Going above and beyond may mean doing even more than that.  Try bringing along toys to play with that you’ve purchased from a yard sale or that were yours as a child.  You could also try bringing items from your recycle bin to make crafts with.  But, going above and beyond may also mean doing something way out of the ordinary just to make the children smile.

I started babysitting for a family 8 years ago.  When the mother interviewed me, she let her 2 year old daughter sit in on the interview and was allowing her to assist in choosing a new babysitter.  The little girl chose me and told her mother that I was a real princess and that’s why she picked me.  So, after babysitting for about 8 months, I showed up one evening in a full skirted gown, my hair done up in a french twist, and a little Tiara comb in my hair.  The little girl was absolutely thrilled.

It’s been quite a few years since I pulled that stunt, so I went for the shock factor again the other day.  The mother asked me if I could babysit at 10:00 on Saturday morning.  “That’s really early for me on a weekend,” I explained.  “I might show up in my pajamas.”  She said, “Go right ahead, I’m sure the kids will love it.”  So I showed up on Saturday with my bathrobe over my clothes, slippers on, and curlers in my hair!  They were delighted!  “This is why we love you,” the mom said when she opened the door.

Lisa McLellan

Babysitting Expert

Babysitter Interview Question – Add this to your list

crying babyIn my free eBook “Seven Things to Know Before You Hire That Babysitter,” I tell the story of how one of my babysitters left my infant son in his crib screaming and crying the entire time my husband and I were out.  Thankfully it was only a couple of hours, but still, the baby was very hot, red, and upset by the time we got home which tore at my heart.

After holding him for just a couple of minutes, he quieted right down, although he still made a little gasp sound every now and then for the next 15 minutes or so the way kids do who have been crying for an extended period.  He just wanted to be held.  If only the babysitter had picked him up, I’m sure he would have stopped crying.  Instead, she unplugged the baby monitor so she would not have to listen to him.  When the battery backup kicked in, she shut it off.

My advice to any parent of an infant/baby that is interviewing potential babysitters is to ask them what they would do if the baby starts crying.  Also, don’t accept just one answer.  After the sitter replies, ask what she would do next if that did not stop the baby from crying.  You can ask this three or four times or even more.  In my article, Baby Won’t Stop Crying, I give over ten reasons why the baby may be crying and suggestions on how to quiet her down.

Leaving a baby screaming in his crib for two hours is certainly better than shaking or hurting the baby, but knowing what to check for or what to try to soothe a crying baby is much better!  When searching for a babysitter, keep your standards high, your children are worth it!

Lisa McLellan, Babysitting Expert

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What to do with All Your Children’s Artwork

Almost every kid enjoys drawing, painting, or doing some type of craft project.  But after even just a few months of making crafts at daycare, school, or preschool, your child may have created far more masterpieces than your refrigerator or counters can hold.  And after a year, you may feel like you need to put an addition on the house just to display these amazing works of art.  Then add any projects created with the babysitter or nanny and soon you’re buried.

What do you do when you’ve run out of space, but either you don’t have the heart to get rid of these creations or your little one bursts into tears as soon as you remove one from the refrigerator?  My suggestion is to let the artwork be displayed on the refrigerator or counter for maybe a week or until the next masterpiece comes along.  Then, take a photo of every work of art before taking it down. Next, invest in a digital picture frame and load it with photos of your child’s drawings and art projects.  Then keep it on the counter or in another highly visible spot so that you can display every masterpiece your child has ever created in a very small amount of space.

Now you can store the original artwork away in bins if you choose, and your little Picasso need not be upset because his creations are still clearly displayed for all to see!

Best of luck,

Lisa McLellan,

Child care expert

Babysitters Beware

baby cryingMost babysitters or nannies never think to ask parents how the appliances, thermostats, or baby gadgets work.  It may not matter much if you can’t work the oven unless you were asked to make dinner for the children.  And if you were asked to make dinner, that may remind you to ask how the oven works.

If you’re babysitting late and the automatic thermostat turns the heat down to fifty eight degrees after the children go to bed, that could be a bit of an issue.  You may get very chilly if the parents aren’t due home for a few hours.  But, that is easily solved by a sweater in your bag or a blanket on the sofa, or you could even wrap yourself in a beach towel or large bath towel if nothing else was available.

But what happens when you strap the baby into a high chair, carriage, car seat or other piece of baby gear and then you can’t get her out?  Before you laugh this off, go by a store that sells baby furniture and accessories and go around to each display item and try to open and close it, buckle and unbuckle it, or turn it on or off.  You may be surprised at just how complicated these devices have become.  If you try this and have difficulty with any of them, imagine how difficult it would be if there was a crying baby involved.

Before you attempt to restrain a baby in any type of swing, high chair, car seat, carriage, etc., be sure you know how to get her out quickly, easily, and safely.  If you do have trouble undoing a belt, buckle, or harness and the baby is screaming and crying, keep your cool and try not to let the baby’s cries make you panic.

Keep in mind that yanking or pulling harder is not usually going to help.  Many buckles require you to pinch or squeeze the buckle or latch before pulling it out of the connector.  If you absolutely cannot figure it out, stay calm and call the baby’s parents or your parents for help.

Remember to ask parents to show you how to use each piece of baby equipment even if it looks simple.  Try opening and closing, buckling and unbuckling with the parent there.

Best of luck and happy babysitting!

Lisa McLellan
Child Care Expert
Nanny Services

 

*photo credit

Sneak Out or Leave Them Crying

Many “experts” have said that parents should never sneak out when the babysitter takes over.  They say you should always say good bye.  This is one of those things that is often more easily said than done.  And, it is one of those things that I disagree with.  As with most situations, I feel there is no right or wrong answer, you have to do what works  for you.

When my daughter was little, I tried several times to just say good bye and leave.  She screamed and cried for me as I walked out the door.  Even though I knew she would stop shortly after I left, the image of her reaching for me with tears streaming down her face and the sound of her cries stayed with me for so long afterward that I was unable to enjoy the adult time with my husband and friends that I so desperately needed.

The next time my husband and I left her with the babysitter, I explained a couple of times during the day that the sitter, Hannah, was coming to play with her while Mommy and Daddy went out for a little while.  I told her that Hannah would play her favorite game, read her some stories and put her to bed, and when she woke up Mommy and Daddy would be there.

That evening when Hannah arrived, she took my daughter by the hand and said, “Let’s go play dolls!” and led her into the playroom.   My husband and I quietly slipped out with the sounds of a giggling happy little girl in the background.  I was completely able to enjoy myself and my daughter didn’t shed a tear!

When we returned home, I asked Hannah how it went.  She told me that shortly after we left, my daughter asked for me and Hannah simply told her exactly what I had told her earlier and then distracted her with another game.

After just a few times of slipping out, my daughter was practically shoving us out the door so she could play with Hannah.  Then we were able to give her a kiss, say good bye, and leave her with the babysitter without any tears or negative feelings.

If you do choose to say good bye and leave even if your child cries and begs you to stay, you can take comfort in knowing that almost always within just a few minutes your child will calm down, stop crying, and begin playing.

While I don’t feel that there is a right or wrong way to depart, I do advise against trying to negotiate with your child when you’re trying to leave.  If you tell your child you’ll bring them home a surprise if they don’t cry or they can watch their favorite video etc., you will probably need to negotiate every time you leave even long after the child has learned that you always come back.

Lisa McLellan

Child Care Expert

Nanny Services

 

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