What to Expect From Your Babysitter

By Kaitlin Hurtado on April 5, 2021

As a parent, you are likely looking to accept any help that you can get when it comes to making sure that your family and home are taken care of at all times. For many parents, that help can often come in the form of a babysitter. While babysitters can take care of your children, taking an insane amount of pressure out off your shoulders, you can’t necessarily expect them to be your all-in-one assistant and take care of your every need in addition to watching over your children.

So, what can you expect out of your babysitter while being reasonable and fair? It depends. Keep reading for tips on how to navigate establishing your babysitter’s role within your household, and how you can negotiate what is a part of their duties and what is not.

Photo: Pexels

Are Household Chores for Babysitters? 

While it is typically expected for your babysitter to clean up the messes made during their babysitting shift — toy piles, spills, and similar messes — you shouldn’t expect them to take care of absolutely everything in the house, especially if it has nothing to do with taking care of your children. You hired your babysitter for watching over your child, not to become your home’s made.

Some babysitters may have no issue at all taking care of any messes they see in the home, but others are not going to be so willing to take over cleaning duties if it is not in their job description, and if they feel they are not being compensated enough to do so.

When you hire your babysitter, make sure you are establishing what is expected of them. If you only expect your babysitter to take care of cleaning associated with their role — washing dishes after cooking a meal, taking care of toys after playtime — that’s perfectly within reason. If you expect some additional help with cleaning — a load of laundry or two, vacuuming — make sure you are communicating that in advance so that neither side feels frustrated when the other isn’t okay with the expectations later down the road.

Cleaning Duties That Are Reasonable 

KidSit recommends basing cleaning duties around simple guidelines: babysitters should leave your house in the same level of cleanliness as they found it when arrived. This means cleaning any mess that occurs when they are babysitting, but not cleaning any extra mess that isn’t a result of babysitting. This cleaning can include:

- Washing dishes after mealtimes: If your babysitter is cooking and preparing meals for your child while babysitting, it should be fair to ask that they clean up any dirty dishes or return the kitchen to the state it was before mealtime.

- Cleaning up toys after playtime: From legos and stuffed animals to art supplies from crafting, kids playing can get fairly messy. Asking your babysitter to clean up any mess that stems from your kids’ playtime should be reasonable so long as it happened under their watch.

- Cleaning up spills and messes, from spilled food or a sick child. If your child makes a mess while your babysitter is present, from spilled food to being sick themselves, your babysitter should be able to clean up the spill. Leaving the spill until you come home and clean it up can lead to stains or even stickier situations.

- Bathroom time messes, from potty accident to bath puddles. Depending on how old your children are, your babysitter may be changing diapers or helping out with bathtime. As such, they may be facing some diapers, potty accidents, or extra water from a splash-filled bathtime.

Compensate Fairly

After reading all this and thinking to yourself, “I think I may be expecting more out of my babysitter past typical cleaning duties,” it may be a sign that you are going to have to ask your babysitter to negotiate some expectations. Some babysitters will be perfectly okay with the extra work. Some babysitters may be okay with extra compensation. Other babysitters may draw the line and stand their ground when it comes to tacking on extra cleaning duties.

First, be clear when it comes to what you expect with your babysitter. If you are still searching for a babysitter or in the process of hiring a babysitter, communicate to applicants what you expect them to do if hired. This way, they aren’t going to feel tricked into more work than they signed up for, and you won’t be disappointed to hire a babysitter that does not meet your expectations. If you already have a babysitter, communicate that you are expecting something more from them. This may be a breaking point for your babysitter where they feel they aren’t able to meet those expectations or a time where you are going to have to pay extra for whatever you expect out of them, especially if they are taking on duties out of their original payroll.

While it may be extremely helpful to have your babysitter on board to take on housekeeping duties, remember the reason why you hired them in the first place — taking care of your children. Taking care of your children should be your babysitter’s number one priority, and assigning them a load of cleaning and household chores may be taking their focus and energy away from that.

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