Through Your Babysitter's Eyes.

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


Have you ever looked at your life through your babysitter’s eyes?


Bear with me, this could get painful.


Women’s Day recently explored the topic with The Top Ten Things Your Babysitter Won’t Tell You.


At first blush, this seems like a fluffy, humorous magazine article, perfect for summer beach reading. But like the bestselling book The Nanny Diaries, it’s the uniqueness of the view that makes this topic provocative. Our babysitter’s perspective offers invaluable – sometimes medicinal -- feedback on how we are cutting it as parents, housekeepers and employers.


Among the top ten things your babysitter won’t tell you:


* Your House Is Gross. In other words, she sees EVERYTHING. Including the mess you stashed in the kids’ closet and the scum in the tub. No need to disinfect the house before she arrives. But just know – you have no secrets from your sitter.


* She Doesn’t Respect Your Parenting. No parent is perfect. All this means is she has a different perspective on raising kids. Maybe you should stop giving your toddler so much juice. Perhaps you let your children watch too much – or too little – television. Have a thick skin and an open mind. Few others know your kids as intimately as caregivers. Sometimes, their experience and wisdom far outweighs ours; a different approach can be enlightening.


* She Bribes Your Kids. Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with bribery – a bedtime movie in exchange for good behavior, for instance. But some of us seem to expect our babysitter or nanny (or even our husband) to be perfect models of Dr. Spock childrearing, serving homemade organic whole wheat crackers instead of Lays, reading Pride and Prejudice instead of Scooby Doo comics. Loosen up – as long as the homework gets done, the kids are having fun and behaving themselves, don’t apply standards higher than ones you expect yourself to meet.


* You Undermine Her Discipline. I know a family that forbids their nanny from reprimanding their children in any fashion. Not surprisingly, the kids are shockingly disrespectful and out-of-control around the nanny (and most other adults). Their nannies quit as frequently as the seasons change. The point? Caregivers must be allowed to enforce rules. Your kids need to respect other adults besides parents. You can – and should -- establish appropriate ways to discipline your children. But trust her judgment, and back up her disciplinary decisions. If you don’t trust her -- don’t hire her again.



I just wish all nannies and parents read more of these articles. We have been so lucky with nannies--but know it reflects the give and take both sides must recognize.

Parents need to recognize their sitter is an employee whose value is defined by the salary they make and the respect parents give. It breaks my heart to see our previous nanny, whose loyalty and love of children is unsurpassed, go unappreciated by her current family (who wouldn't give her a few days off after eye surgery).

Nannies too should recognize that there are limits to how far parents' pocketbooks can stretch (and those taxes are a big hit for us).

I guess it ultimately boils down to respect--on both sides. I am a firm believer that you have to find the right match.

Thanks for the good read.