How to Keep a Teen Babysitter Happy

teen babysitterMy new teen babysitter has just started, and I'm nervous.

My kid graduated from pre-school last week (yes, I'm typing through tears), and I work from home.

I can't piss this kid off. 

She's my lifeline.

My sanity.


And did I mention she's the only way my daughter will get to attend swim lessons, story hour, and an arts and crafts program this summer? I want to keep her happy.

So far, we've got some good signs -- I chose her because I've seen her with my child and know she's good with her. She's a good kid -- smart, funny, self-aware.

And she already bought a mega bottle of bubbles to blow with my daughter.

That's how she keeps ME happy.

But how do I keep her coming back? After all, good teen babysitters are like gold.

I asked other parents for the can't-fail tips that have kept their favorite sitters coming back:

1. Pay them well. This should be a no-brainer, but a lot of parents think kids should work for cheap. Which works until the kid gets a $15/hour job as a lifeguard at the town pool and you're out a sitter. Believe it or not, kids can command a decent rate at a summer job -- because the employers don't have to pay them benefits. Don't kill your wallet by being too generous, but don't treat them like slaves either.

2. Feed them. There was a big debate over at LilSugar recently about whether parents should be feeding the nanny. With teens, the chances are they're always going to be hungry, and if you're expecting them to feed your kid during the day, expect them to eat too, and make the food edible.

3. Don't Flake on Them. We worry about teenagers being flakier than adults, but we need to set a good example. Come home when you say you will and call if you're going to be late. Their parents will read them the riot act if they get home late, so don't make their life crazy!

4. Prep Your Kids. It's one thing to have a kid who gets weepy when Mom and Dad leave at night; it's another to have a 7-year-old who says, "I don't have to listen to you" and terrorizes this poor sitter.

5. Lay Out the Routine. Even the best sitter is not a mind reader; they shouldn't have to depend on your kids' version of how nighttime goes down to get those beasties to bed.

6. Leave the Remote Out. There's nothing like getting the kids to bed ... and then spending five hours in a house staring at the walls. You want your sitter to be engaged with your kids, but when they're asleep you'll keep the sitter off your phone if you actually give them something to do.

Do you go the extra mile to keep a good sitter happy?


Image via SharonaGatt/Flickr

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