The Do’s and Don’ts of Babysitting

Finding a good babysitter these days is not as easy as you would think.  Most of these things seem like common knowledge, but after talking with some friends about their babysitting experiences, along with our own, we have come to the conclusion that no,  some things need a little more explanation.

Below is a compilation of things  one should and should not do as a babysitter. Is it rude to ask your sitter to read this list before coming over? (insert grin emoji)

1. Arrive on time. Would you be late for a job anywhere else? Of course, things are going to happen, and we will be understanding, just don’t make it a habit.

My babysitter’s roommate went into labor once and she had to take her to the hospital. Totally legit reason to be late- and the best part; she let me know!

We also had a babysitter no-show, which was so very disappointing. She was a fantastic babysitter but just happened to over-sleep, and it put me in a real bind. She was absolutely mortified once she woke up, and nothing like that ever happened again, so of course she was forgiven.

2. Be respectful when it comes to food. I always tell my sitters they are welcome to eat anything we have in the house if what the kiddos are having for dinner isn’t appealing. I get it, kid-food isn’t always appealing or diet-friendly. But, there are limits.

A friend told me how one time her sitter ate an entire box of ice cream sandwiches…. by herself! Let that sink in… the kids did not eat any of them.

3. Clean up after food is consumed. Whether it be the pot you made macaroni in, or just the plates you used while there, clean up after you are done. Heck, sweeping is great, too.

A friend told me her babysitter used to leave dirty pots on the stove and dishes in the sink, even hours after the kids went to bed. This is just crazy to me. I completely understand if the sitter was involved with the kids and didn’t have time before the parents came home, but to be sitting on the couch scrolling Instagram with dirty dishes in the kitchen? No way.

Another friend also once told me that one time while her baby was sleeping, her sitter made herself a big breakfast and left all of the dirty dishes to be cleaned by my friend. And, the pan was so badly burnt that after much scrubbing, she deemed it irreparable and had to toss it. I was floored to hear this. Unacceptable!

4. Leave the house in the same, if not better, condition as you arrived. Coming home to a house that looks like it exploded is heart-wrenching, especially if it was clean upon arrival. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE when my kids are being entertained and having a great time. That, along with their safety, comes first. But if you know when the adults are coming home then it is much appreciated if you allow for adequate time for clean-up before they arrive.

I came home recently to find our play room in utter disarray. I was gone for two hours taking Gwyn to a rainy soccer practice, so Gwyn wasn’t even home. It was just Cal and Franklin and the room looked like there were ten children playing in it. And I get it… it’s a play room. But it was spotless upon arrival which leads me to believe she just sat on her phone the whole time. Grrrr…

I’ve also had babysitters put laundry away for me and I could kiss them for doing this. Such a treat to have a dreaded chore done while away, and of course I paid them extra for doing so.

5. Engage with the kiddos. There’s a time and a place for the tv, but try your best to entertain the kids without constant electronics. Build a fort, play board games, go outside. Create a scavenger hunt, paint, or play with Play-doh. Do all the things we parents don’t always like to do.  But sitting on your phone while the kids watch tv is just sad. If it’s chaotic and you need to calm things down or whatnot, then by all means do what you need to do.

A friend told me how her sitter used to watch tv while the kids did their own thing. This just doesn’t settle well with me. Be creative!

Our babysitter used to drive a yellow jeep, so she downloaded a Transformers app and told the kiddos that her jeep was the yellow transformer, Bumblebee. They would always go out and sit in her car while she played the voice of Bumblebee hidden from them. I loved this!



6. Now this is a bonus, but if you come with entertainment you will earn big bonus points with the parents.

My babysitter growing up used to bring large balloons that she could blow up inside one another, and we thought this was the greatest thing ever. And she was asked to come back again and again and we were always entertained by it.

We also had a babysitter who used to bring our kiddos little stickers and plastic dinosaurs and while inexpensive for her to bring, paid off big in my book. And of course, she was tipped well.

My friend also told me about how her beloved sitter took videos and pictures of her kiddos throughout the year that my friend had never seen, and then made a slideshow dvd along to music as a Christmas gift that started with “Here are a few things we did while you were out…” And of course, my pal bawled her eyes out! SO above-and-beyond thoughtful.

7. Know your limits in the house. There are certain places you probably shouldn’t go, and if ever unsure, it’s probably best to just stay away.

We once had a sitter ask via text to take a shower after the kids went to bed so that she didn’t have to do it once she got home. While we thought this was odd, we agreed. When we came home we learned that she had showered in our master bathroom, not in the guest bathroom as we thought she would, and we came home to her lounging on our bed. What………the……

A friend also told me that one time she came home to her babysitters (two friends) asleep IN HER BED at 11 pm. The kiddos were asleep in their own beds, but these babysitters were freaking asleep in her bedroom. What if a child woke up needing them?! Infuriating. Don’t ever do this! Just stay out of the parents’ bed, period. Ha.

8. Dress appropriately. We are trying to model how to dress appropriately to our kids, so if you come with a super low-cut shirt and cut-off shorts, it’s not only distracting but just inappropriate.

A friend told me how her sitter, with giant breasts, used to wear very revealing clothing and super short shorts. So much so that her infant started pecking at her chest because they were that exposed. Not…. cool.

9. The kids’ safety is the number one most important thing, so make that your priority.

My friend’s sitter once left the bath water filled in the tub, and with two other kids and a wandering toddler around, this could have potentially been life-threatening. Along the same lines, don’t ever leave kids in the bath alone, no matter the age. Can you imagine if one stood up, slipped and got hurt under your care? Don’t even chance it.

10. The more qualifications you possess, the better. Get that CPR and first aid certification if you can. Not only will that ease the minds of the parents, but I believe it will ease yours as well. If deciding between two people who are pretty equal on all accounts, I will always choose the one who is more qualified first. These are our babies you are caring for! Priceless!


So there you have it. Maybe I am missing some things, but I feel like if my sitter was aware of all of these things then I would be one happy mama.

What about you? Do you have any strange/bad or good babysitting stories?


  1. Love this! My mom always told me to do extra cleaning and abide by your #4 rule above. Even if there were dishes in the sink before I arrived to ALWAYS do the dishes and clean the counters. And not just do the dishes – but put them away too. Even with dog sitters it shocks me how this is a lost trait. I get it – you don’t HAVE to do my dishes but at least do yours….

  2. I’ll totally eat a whole box of ice cream sandwiches by myself, but never if they’re not mine! And taking a shower in someone else’s bathroom and then lounging on the bed? THAT’S JUST BIZARRE AND WEIRD!

  3. This is so true! It’s amazing how inconsiderate people can be in other’s homes.

  4. Often they forget about what they are there, exceed their attributions, and do not follow the rules in the house. I have my story too … soon Will Be Live! Great post!

  5. I’ve been working as a nanny for a long time, and I can tell you that parents have changed quite a bit which is probably why nannies have changed their mentality as well. A lot of parents these days want a lot more while offering a lot less.

    I used to go above and beyond with the “leave the house better than you found it” motto– and it ended up biting me in the butt more than a few times. I’d do dishes, help with parents’ laundry, organize the pantry, cook nice meals and leave it for the parents, and so on…and at first the parents would appreciate it, but later down the line they would confuse the extra things I did as actual parts of my job and they’d grow disappointed if I didn’t do it. Usually I’d have to stop because parents started taking advantage of it by leaving a lot of extra things behind with the expectations that I’d handle it. I don’t mind throwing a few dirty dishes in the sink especially if I’m already taken care of the kids’ dishes and mine, but I do mind if you have a dinner party and leave it all behind for me to take care of (true story).

    The “leave it better than you found it” has also been misconstrued by parents who think they can leave their house looking like a tornado hit it, and come home to find it like Martha Stewart has been residing there. I’ve actually come to a point where I do my job, and I try to leave things a little better than I did, but I try to keep it strictly related to the kids. For example…if the parents didn’t put away a game before I arrived– then I’ll take care of that and so on. I no longer do all the extras… and depending on the family I may or may not help with dishes they leave behind. I usually base it on how often they do this, and whether or not I think it can get out of control. Btw– a lot of parents don’t do the whole “help yourself to anything you want” anymore and often there’s nothing the nanny can eat which makes me even less inclined to help with the adult dishes. It was never a requirement for parents to make sure there’s food for the nanny, but it was a nice thing parents used to do which in return made doing the dishes a nice token of appreciation from the nanny.

  6. Emory Jackson says:

    Omg I love this, All of the tips will help me thank you so much

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