My Sitters Are Driving Me Crazy–Part 2

I was a bit surprised by the firestorm my blog set off. I was pondering it with my girlfriends Tuesday morning at the playground when a very strange thing happened.

A woman I had never seen came running up to us. She was almost in tears.

“Have you seen a blue baby blanket?” she asked frantically. (Her name is Julie.)

We shook our heads no.

“My sitter took it out with my son today and lost it!! It is his special blanket that was made from yarn we got in Australia. I let them take it because his father had to fly to Australia today and my son wanted to hold it. I even told her to be careful with it,” she said, clearly distraught.

My gals and I looked at each other, mouths hanging open.

“You gotta talk to HER!” my friend Stephanie said, pointing at me. It was like the universe sent Julie to me. Divine intervention reinforcing the point of my blog.

She went on to say, “You know the most ridiculous thing about this? I am paying my sitter to watch my son while I go searching for it.” I nodded. Been there too. It’s on my mom-crutch post.

Now before conclusions are drawn, let’s step back and think for a second what this argument is really about.

It’s about what we moms define as important. And what our expectations are. And it’s okay to agree to disagree. But I think it goes deeper than that. There was an underlying tone and theme in many of the comments. It speaks to the judgment we cast on each other, particularly the Stay At Home Moms versus the Working Moms.

And so begins Part 2 and 3 of my Sitter Chronicles.

PART 2

LOSING THINGS:

Let’s first answer the question– how do things get lost? Sometimes it boils down to an accident. A mistake. And in that case, yes, get over it. But a lot of times it’s because tots fling things out of the stroller, or throw something in the playground. I know the few times I have lost stuff it’s due to texting while strolling (not something I’m proud of). Or not paying enough attention to what Fia is doing. I accept that my behavior is unacceptable. And I make a conscious decision to be better. So are sitters beyond reproach on that? I don’t think so. Because at the top of their job list is to pay attention to their biggest responsibility: The Child.  Not their phone or their sitter friends. I believe that is exactly how Julie’s baby blanket got lost. And Fia’s things.

DIAPERS:

Dear lord. Diapers are a shit storm—literally and figuratively. I heard you all loud and clear on not checking the diaper bag: guilty as charged. Last Saturday was the first time it happened. And it bit me—and Fia—in the butt. It won’t happen again.

SITTER RESPONSIBILITIES:

For the record: I never leave dirty dishes in my sink for my sitters to clean. I don’t ask them to cook or do laundry for me. During Fia’s 2-hour naps, I often find T reading a book or making herself something to eat. (I also give her money to order in). I’m happy that she’s relaxing. Oh, and p.s.—I pay them really well.

Now that’s just me. Someone else may have completely different expectations and guidelines for their sitters. And that’s okay. But whatever you lay out, they should follow if it’s reasonable. And packing a diaper bag is reasonable. It’s not like I’m asking them to go stand in traffic.

I found many comments quite contradictory. Lamenting that sitters should be looked at as professionals. And treated as such. Exactly. So how is asking them to do something that is part of their job so horrible-terrible-awful? I mean, we’re asking them to wipe dirty butts. So putting 3 diapers and some wipes in a bag at the end of the day is demeaning? Give me a break.

Here were some sensible comments:

@Sabrina Condon–You’re paying them to care for your child. If that means restocking the diaper bag to you, then they should restock it. That’s well within the reasonable realm of responsibilities. I wouldn’t tell my boss it’s his/her job to restock the supply closet if I use the last pencil.

@DAISY – If your boss asks you to clean the bathroom and you’re the manager, you just do it. You may not like it, but you do it.

@ANGEL–And leaving filthy things in the diaper bag and not putting them in the sink is unsanitary. We’ve all done it accidentally, but as a habit, it is unacceptable.

Now for some of the not-so-sensible ones (in my opinion).

For those who say my sitter isn’t my personal assistant, maid, etc, I say, exactly. She is a sitter, and therefore her responsibilities include keeping track of my child and her things. That’s her j-o-b.

And commenters who expressed disbelief that I was expecting the sitter to “raise my child”… I argue that putting 3 diapers in the bag and refilling the wipes is far from rearing my baby. Not to mention she’s there 10-15 hours a week. The other 153 hours it’s all me, all the time.

Having said this, I truly enjoyed getting all your comments. It was great, as it really got me thinking about why it struck such a nerve.

Which is why Part 3 tackles the judgments between the stay at home moms (SAHM) and the working moms.

But before I get to that one, let me end with the baby blanket. It hasn’t been found, but for 2 more hours, Julie scoured the park. Then she went and had fliers made up to post. Here it is, and yes, in her world, it is an important thing. And something her sitter was supposed to keep track of. And didn’t. And that’s a shame.

Lost Light Blue Hand Knit Blanket

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  1. by Elizabeth

    On June 23, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Wow. Haha. That’s all I can say. I used to be a sitter, for my neighbours little boys. If I was there for dinner- I would do the dishes they or I used, because it’s the nice thing to do. If we went to the park, I would make sure all the belongings we had, were there when we left the park as well. And, let me stress this one – I would NEVER leave the diaper bag, un-packed! The parents were kind enough to pack it for me, I will do the same! I’m amazed that parents are having to deal with sitters who don’t do their JOB.

  2. by Nanny Deb

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I think you got a somewhat unfair lambasting after your original post, and I’m going to be as kind as possible to you:

    I think you have a few options here. You may have to accept that your sitters are flighty and KNOW that you will be dealing with empty diaper bags and lost toy. Here are your choices: Fire them and hire more organized sitters, or accept that they are crap at tracking stuff but adore your child and care for her wonderfully well exccept for the details of life that tick you off. (If, in fact, they do give her fantastic care. If not, go back to the “fire them” suggestion.)

    Your other (additional?) option is one that you say you’ve already tried, which is asking, reminding and assisting your sitters to be organized and keep you from tearing your hair out. If you choose to try this again, do it as their boss, not their friend or their buddy. Be the MANAGER here, manage your employees, and see if that works better.

    That said, my personal opinion, as a career nanny with 18 years in the profession, is that you need to find ONE sitter, and possibly join forces with another mom who needs PT help so that you can offer that ONE sitter FT hours between the 2 (or 3) families. If you can provide a FT work schedule, you might attract a truly competant professional nanny, and if you interview thoroughly you can make sure she is a good match for you in all ways, including organizational skills.

    Yep, I know, way easier said than done. I know!

    If that won’t work, how about investing in a few diaper bags for your sitters to use? One for “T” and one for “G”. Hide your diaper bag and keep it the way you want it kept. I do this on my own, simply because I am uber organized, and dealing with my employer(s) messy diaper bags makes me nuts.

    I probably could have just offered up that last paragraph, huh?

    Ah well, good luck, and I’m crossing my fingers that Julie’s boy’s blankie is found.

    And BTW, I think women criticize each other so virulently sometimes because they are scared they’ve made the WRONG choices. And it starts before the baby is even born. I don’t know how to fix that.

  3. by Elisha

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Perfection does not exist but self righteousness does.

  4. by Amy

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Well I feel for that mom who’s sitter lost a blenket and I think that sitter really should have been more responible. Also she should not have to pay the sitter for going out to look for the blanket!!!

    As for the previous blog. I’m sorry if felt you struk a nerve. You did not strike one with me but you never stated you left instructions before to restock the diaper bag.

    As for the stay at home moms vs working moms. I am a stay at home mom and I don’t think any mom working is a bad mom and its not to blame for any negative feed back. But really try to take that negative with the positive and let it grow you as a mom weather home or not.

  5. by Chloe

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I just have a question from part 1….what do you mean by a “play stroller”? is it an actual full sized stroller, or was it one of Fia’s toys?
    just wondering….
    btw, I enjoy reading your blog and seeing someone else’s honest perspective on these kinds of issues!

  6. by cassie

    On June 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I feel so bad about the lost blankie! I read your first blog, and felt alot of the responses seemed very unfair…especially one that criticized you for saying the one babysitter didn’t want to get a real job. I completely understood what you were saying..you weren’t making a crack at her, she just went to college for something else, but chooses to work for you part time.

    I’m a SAHM, and i know i’m negligent on packing up the diaper back, however, for some reason I’m a little anal when it comes to my son’s toys…so it would really annoy me if i was paying someone to keep track of him, and they lost half of the stuff…i also think you are being really easy on these sitters…i babysat for $2 an hour, and i did the dishes, picked up, etc. because i knew that if i made the mess, i should clean it up. I agree with one of the previous postings, however i think you need to clarify to the sitter, let them know this is their final warning…make it very clear what your top three priorities are (i think 3 is fairly simple lol) and let them know if they can’t handle those, then they will be let go. why pay someone to only do half the job? good luck!

  7. by Kristi

    On June 23, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    I was also surprised at how harsh some of the responses were to the last blog! I do not understand why people are so judgmental and intentionally hurtful. I personally would never ask the babysitter to restock the diaper bag, but that is simply because I may be slightly Obsessive Compulsive and like to have it a certain way. I know many were shocked that you didn’t just do it yourself, but I don’t think that should be the point… if you asked T to do something (especially something so simple) then she should do it or let you know she is not capable! As far as the lost items go, I would have most likely reacted even worse then you did! lol I know everyone loses things, but it is her job to be responsible and it’s not like she is some 12 year old neighbor, she is a college grad doing this as a job. Good luck on whatever you decide to do!

  8. by Stephanie

    On June 24, 2011 at 6:26 am

    The picture of the baby with the lost blanket, is making me sick. Someone please find that babies blanket!If my daughter lost her stuffed donkey “Pizza” I would be searching the world over too- that poor little guy!

  9. by Jill Cordes

    On June 24, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Ladies, I can honestly say I love all these responses. Because I feel like we are being civil and kind to one another, even if we have differences of opinions.

    I’m glad I started such an interesting debate, and will continue to write about worthy topics as things come up in my own life.

    Unfortunately, the baby blanket is still lost. However, Julie’s mom did find some extra yarn that was from the making of the original, so she is making another one. Not the same, but it’s better than nothing. And as most of you know, yes, it was one of those small toy strollers that tots like to push around. And I did get it back, as they found it after the weekend Guess it was in the other nanny’s kid’s regular stroller. (follow all that?).

    I am also listening to all your advice on sitter issues and plan to streamline a bit, as I do think many of you have made excellent points. Thanks for being such an engaging, articulate and thoughtful audience! You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar…..

  10. by gina

    On June 24, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Jill,

    as a new mom I would like to thank you for starting this conversation. It has put a lot of thoughts into my mind about what my expectations are going to be of sitters. I may not totally agree with everything, but now losing things, and not restocking etc…were things I haven’t even thought of.. I didn’t realize I had to deal with THOSE issues too…(as if being a working mother wasn’t enough!)

    Again, THANK YOU!

    Gina

  11. by Danielle

    On June 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Do they understand that there are actually people out there who would LOVE to do this job??? I have been a sitter for about 9 years (im 20) and I would never think about leaving dirty dishes anywhere not even in the sink (unless it was an absolute crazy day with many kids in which case I explain it to the parents and offer to do the dishes then) I also would feel absolutely horrible for losing a anything belonging to the family especially if it is something important to the child. I can honestly say that there are better sitters out there and if they keep “driving you crazy” maybe they should know.

  12. by DeAnna

    On June 24, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I loved being a Nanny before my son was born. Now I am a SAHM/Daycare Mom. I get the best and worst of both worlds. So long as your expectations are reasonable there should be no issues. I personally think you are being VERY reasonable when you expect your Sitter to care for your daughter, clean/organize/restock the diaper bag at the end of the day, and also be responsible for the toys and other items that leave the house. Its not TOO MUCH to ask. Especially if you pay your sitter to order take-out for lunch, and allow her some relaxation time while baby naps. You are being very generous with that.

    I know there are better sitters out there than the ones you have now. I expect you will find them, if you give your sitters a choice–to do the job you expect and pay them for, or have them find other employment. You will be surprised if you just open up and look for a possible different sitter…or your current ones might surprise you with stepping up and taking responsibility!

  13. by Whit

    On June 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Am I the only one who thinks the mother of the child with the lost blanket is being a bit irrational? Yes, the flyer is cute and I give her props for giving me a brief smile, but, if it were me I’d be relieved that “the blankie” took a permanent vacation. Seriously, how old is that baby, one? Hand him some Gerber puffs and put in an Elmo DVD and all will be forgotten lickity split! Once the initial tantrum has passed, the world will seem so much easier when Mom realizes she no longer has to remember Blankie when leaving the house. Neither of
    My kids had a blankie (unless you count the one on their bed, or the floor, depending on if they decided to make their bed that morning) and I think they turned out ok. I just never had the patience to keep track of any crutch that my toddler demanded be carted along on any and every excursion. I think this Mom is making things harder on herself than they need to be by feeding into the child’s hysteria over losing it. Sure hope she didn’t fire the sitter over this.

  14. by Rebecca

    On June 26, 2011 at 3:13 am

    I’m a full time nanny and as soon as my own fertility stuff gets squared away, I’ll be a mom. I would never take anything irreplaceable out of the house if I wasn’t committed to keeping track of it! When the kids (2 and 4) want to bring toys with us somewhere, I either say no, or if it’s a car ride I allow it and the item remains in the car. Nothing wrong with me being the authority on what we bring with us- they have fun at the destination and within a minute forgot whatever they had wanted to bring. I take them 1 or 2 places every day and we never lose anything. I also do minor chores- basically caring for the kids and cleaning up after us- toys, dishes, laundry, etc. Truly I thought this was expected of all nannies. I know the parents work hard and really wish they could be at home with the kids. I try to do what I can so when they do come home, they’re not bogged down with chores I could just as easily have taken care of.

  15. by Shel

    On July 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    To Whit: It sounds like the blankie was not a nesessity everytime the child went out. He just wanted it that day because his daddy was flying to Australia. And I think it meant more because of the sentimental value (made by grandma, with yarn from australia) than the “crutch” value. Think of something sentimental in your house and what it would mean to lose that. Understand now?

    And I agree with a comment made earlier, if the sitter was told to restock the bag at the end of the day then yes, it is ok for you to expect it to be done. But in the first blog, it sounded like you just expected it but hadn’t told them those expectations. Sounds like you need to sit down with them and make sure they know what your expectations are and maybe even do a contract with those listed and what will happen in the event of lost items (i.e. who will pay to replace those, etc).

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