One of my colleagues recently confided in me something she wished she could change about her sitter: During meals, the sitter would record the child's feeding times … and nothing else. 12:13 p.m. 5:02 p.m. Technically, she was doing her job. But my colleague wanted to know more to feel more connected.
It's not easy to express your dissatisfaction to your babysitter. As the founder and CEO of Sittercity.com, and author of Love at First Sit, I have a few tips to help those slightly uncomfortable conversations go more smoothly and effectively.
Soften Your Approach
• Point out something great your sitter's done recently and use it to move into the conversation. "It's so great that you take the time to tell me when my son ate! I love knowing what goes on, and it would be great if you could tell me more. …"
• Use your kids as the entrance into the conversation. "Tommy mentioned he doesn’t really like it when he’s swung by the arms. I guess it’s just one of his quirks …"
• Use another babysitter from the past. "An old babysitter used to carry Tommy over her shoulder and he didn't like it much, so I just wanted to tell you so that you don't have to spend the rest of the afternoon calming a terrified toddler."
• Stick to the key points. While there may indeed be 325 reasons why your sitter shouldn't swing Tommy by his arms, don't run through all of them. Keep the conversation focused.
• Make sure those key points are short and sweet. Long-winded explanations and minor details will lose your sitter's interest and make her less open to these discussions in the future.
• Don't assign blame. Keep your sitter and yourself on the same side—working together to ensure she has the appropriate information and tools to best do her job.
Make Time for Meetings
You don't have to wait until there's a problem to have discussions with your babysitter. In fact, you shouldn't. To keep the lines of communication constantly open, schedule brief meetings with your sitter to catch up and allow both sides to voice concerns.
Of course, when you're rushing out of the house, your sitter is trying to get settled in and your child is pulling her in five different directions, it's not the ideal time to try to communicate anything beyond, "Be home at six, frozen dinners are in the fridge!" Since timing is everything, the best time to meet with your sitter is when you're both relaxed and prepared. Setting aside an extra 10-15 minutes each week to talk will do wonders for your childcare relationship.
Are you having difficulty finding a sitter during the holidays? Do you need someone to take care of your pet while you are away on vacation? Do you need a new nanny? w2wlink is partnering with SitterCity.com to help you find your next sitter! With over 150,000 caregivers across the country, Sittercity is the nation's largest and most easily accessible database for babysitters, nannies and pet sitters. w2wlink members get a 10% discount on a Sittercity membership. Find out how Sittercity can help you today!
What would you like your sitter or nanny to change?
Genevieve Thiers is the founder and CEO of Sittercity.com, America's largest and most trusted online source for caregivers. Thiers has shared childcare tips with audiences across the country, including those of the Today Show, The Wall Street Journal, The View, Parenting, Martha Stewart Living Radio and many more. She has also been featured on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch and CNN Live's Young People Who Rock, won a spot on Crain's coveted 40 Under 40 List, been recognized by President Bush as the SBA's Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006, and was the international UPS "Out of the Box" first place winner for her idea for Sittercity.com. Her first book, Love at First Sit, was published in spring of 2008. To learn more about Genevieve and her expert appearances nationwide, visit http://www.sittercity.com/press.