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What’s Really Reasonable to Ask of a Babysitter?

When people hire a babysitter, for most the primary reason is to keep their children safe and secure, to protect them from outsiders but, most usually, themselves. But of course, most parents are going to expect at least a little more of a sitter than just standing around and making sure their children don't drink any bleach. But how do you know what is really reasonable to expect from them?

A big part of that depends on what you negotiate beforehand. Beyond the very basic aspects of safety, including such things as responding properly in the case of medical or other emergencies, the first thing to keep in mind is that you can only expect what they actually agree to doing. It's very important to go into your first day with a complete, explicit list of what it is you expect.

Babysitters are not housekeepers. You can ask them to clean up after the children or the things they do for them, but expecting them to do other things, such as starting dinner for your family or doing laundry is unreasonable.  

You can expect them to provide drinks when children are thirsty, or even prepare snacks at some point. You can even request they create a basic meal, from ingredients you provide, of course. This includes things like preparing bottles for any infants. With infants, it's also expected that they will change diapers as needed. In general, it is only reasonable to ask a babysitter to use materials you have on hand to do anything, although some might bring games of their own or the like. They may agree to take the children out for a meal or something of the like, but it isn't something you should expect them to do.

You can, of course, expect them to show up on time, ready to work. You can even expect them to have a bit of flexibility at the end of the scheduled time in case you're running late, occasionally. However, that flexibility should definitely not be abused. If you find you show up late on a regular basis, you will probably need to book them for longer so that you're usually coming home “early”, instead. Your irregular schedule is not something you can expect to burden them with.

Cleaning up after any snacks or meals they prepare is something you can specify, as is, possibly, cleaning up after the children are through playing with toys, although you will have to negotiate that with them beforehand. Babysitters are not housekeepers. You can ask them to clean up after the children or the things they do for them, but expecting them to do other things, such as starting dinner for your family or doing laundry is unreasonable. You can ask, but it's certainly not something you should expect.

Again, it comes down to what's agreed to beforehand. You can expect anything you both agree to to be done by a babysitter, this article is just meant to give you an idea of what you're likely to get agreement to with most. You will most likely be able to find someone to agree to almost any requirement, but the more unusual it is, the smaller pool you'll have to choose from. Is that special requirement really worth it if you have to pass up an otherwise superior babysitter?

The Daily Bang