Does a Babysitter Have to Like Kids to Do a Good Job?

babysitter motivationI've been incredibly lucky to have some amazing babysitters in my past five years of parenting. Sure, there have been a few duds, but for the most part the women (always women, but I'm not closed to a man) have been loving, kind, and complimentary to my kids. Which, of course, wins big points.

But I do admit to treating some of my sitters a little bit differently than others. Even though I trusted them the same, my kids enjoyed their company equally, and I felt similarly comfortable with them in my home. Because there's a big difference between a professional sitter, and a college graduate who is looking for some spending money in this crappy economy.


I know some people who get very excited about the "college grad" sitter, and I can say that I see the appeal. The glut of recent college graduates who can't get a job means there are a lot of people looking for some extra money through babysitting, and they might bring an energy to the job that you won't find in a full-time sitter. Of course, the very smart college grad goes for sitting jobs where the parents work in her desired field.

This trend of babysitting for editors in New York City was super hot before I left the publishing capitol of the U.S. I had a sitter who transferred easily into "intern" at a pub where I was an editor. Many more babysitters found "real jobs" after they endeared themselves to other editors and publishers I knew as well. It was a win-win. Except when I lost my babysitter after being in a position of authority, and therefore in a position to show favoritism, with her at my own job. Which was fine. She was lovely, and I was happy to help.

What does wind up happening, however, is that I became less likely to call on the college grad sitter, and instead would regularly hire the woman I knew was in it to make a living. Somehow it seems more fair. It's like, you wouldn't hire someone as a marketing representative, when you know they'll leave as soon as a position in accounting opens up, right? Or maybe you would, if they were good enough.

I always felt like the college grads were temporary, and therefore I couldn't reasonably expect them to be available every time I needed a night out with my husband. So I started calling the ladies who I knew would pick babysitting my kids over a night at a hot restaurant opening. Maybe it's unfair, but I bet my sitter with the internship was happier with that gig, than the one that required her to wipe my baby's butt.

Do you care about what motivates your sitter?


Image via Arild Langton/Flickr

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