How To Become Everyone's Favorite Babysitter

by Hannah Mayer
Originally Published: 
A babysitter is making dough in the kitchen with a smiling little girl.

*Cue my Mom’s voice in your head*

Kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it. Back in my day, the going rate for a babysitter was one dollar per hour per child. Once I had a dad pay me in nickels. Before you go feeling all sorry for me, though, I usually made up the difference of what I thought I was worth by swiping their good liquor.

However, inflation has hit the babysitting market hard, and there have been several times I’ve had to dip into my kids’ college fund to cover our tab. Technically we pay $10 an hour, but because the ATM only spits out $20 bills, we have to round up to the nearest 20. A night out can easily run close to what I paid for my first car. I have no idea why kids stop babysitting to go to college; somewhere there’s a brilliant 26-year-old retired babysitter out there relaxing in her mansion in Lake Como.

So babysitters, listen up. I already assume the basics – you like kids and are not a serial killer. But here’s how to fast track it to that lakeside chalet in Como.

1. Use your words. I’m working on a conspiracy theory that every child born in the ’90s is rendered mute when they hit puberty. A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a sitter that went something like this:

“So, how were the kids tonight? Did they eat all their Pizza Rolls and glazed donuts?”

*high fives*


*wiggles eyebrows *

*cabbage patches*

*gives thumbs up*

Then I paid her $100 and she went home.

Please … just give me the confidence that if an emergency arises the 9-1-1 dispatcher isn’t going to mistake you for a polar bear.

2. Make yourself useful. I usually give babysitters a 30-minute warning before I come home. What I text is, “Hey! On our way – be home in 30 minutes!” What I mean is, “Hey! Hide the hookers and wash the dishes!” I don’t expect to walk in to find you scrubbing toilets, but picking up the Legos and washing the dishes will get you a callback.

3. Mi casa es su casa. I am trusting you with my most precious of the precious, and I want to think of you as an extension of my own family. Come in, relax, put your stuff down and start playing with my kids. Grab the butcher knife as I’m simultaneously chopping vegetables and putting in my contacts because I’m running a few minutes behind. Snoop around the kitchen to find the stuff you need. Chances are at some point someone is going to pee on the floor and you’re going to need to figure out where I keep the matches and kerosene. Help yourself and eat my food. Except my Skinny Pop. Touch that and I will fucking cut you.

4. Look alive. For some reason, I thought high schoolers were glued to their phones. Maybe this is because every time I go anywhere, high schoolers are glued to their phones. But apparently they have lots of important things to do, like look at pictures of Justin Bieber (is he still a thing?), and letting me know if they are available to babysit is not top priority. This lag means that I have to start planning a date night eight years in advance. Please – just a quick yes or no. And – BONUS – if you are not available, put me in touch with some of your other babysitting friends. I promise to always give you first right of refusal.

5. Let me know everyone is breathing. Now, this is a tricky one. I happen to be a control freak and enjoy periodic updates letting me know everything is going OK; texting me a picture of everyone not killing each other would be awesome. However, several of my friends prefer to erase any memory of kids the minute they step out the door, and hearing from the sitter is a major buzzkill. I mean, tomato/tomahto, they’re just awful parents. You may want to ask.

6. Help me. There is no amount of money that could make me want to go back to my teenage years. But, I want to take full advantage of a conversation with someone who has not been living in a hole of baby poop since 2009. I’m going to ask you what shoes go with my outfit, and I want you to tell me about the concerts you’ve been to this summer. You’re going to think I am old as dirt, but please fake reverence as I show you that I know how to do the stanky leg. Let’s talk about fashion; let’s talk about boys … for five minutes. Then I am going to catapult back into my adult life and thank God I’m not 16 anymore.

7. Wrap it up. Parents love hearing anecdotes about how wonderful and hilarious their kids are. So tell me about all the awesome things they did when I get home. I don’t care if they were first-class assholes – make something up about a funny thing they said. Lie and tell me that they learned how to read while I was gone. After a date night I’m not going to remember it tomorrow morning anyway.

Listen – we love you for taking care of our kids. We know it’s hard. We don’t ask for much, except for you to be awesome. But not too awesome, K? The slightest indication that our kids like you more than us and it’s curtains, sister.

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