Growing up, I had very few opportunities to babysit, but there was one job in particular I will never forget. I was asked to watch six kids from two different families – all under one roof.  The families were vacationing in the same beach town I lived, but I did not know them. All the kids were either toddlers or preschoolers – and as a young middle schooler myself – I remember being completely in over my head. There were diaper debacles, kids screaming and crying and running all through the house, and even one locking himself in the bathroom because he pulled the doorknob off from the inside. I don’t recall how I ever got him out, but I did, and I somehow managed to keep the kids safe as well as some semblance of order. But the biggest insult to injury came at the end…

After a crazy four hours, one of the parents handed me a $20 bill and asked me to bring the change ($4) back in the morning. Gosh. I’m sure glad I didn’t let the door slam me in the ass on the way out!

As a parent who now hires babysitters, I often think of that situation. Would I hire someone (so young) and someone I didn’t know well to watch six little kids? Would I have hired more than one babysitter? Would I ask for change if I didn’t have the exact amount we agree upon (especially such a small amount)?

Selecting a babysitter may be one the most important decisions a parent can make. You want to be sure you find someone you can trust with your children – and also trust they’ll take the job seriously.  Yet, nine times out of ten, hired babysitters are kids themselves. (Unless you’re the lucky few who have found steady sitters who are college-aged or older!) It’s often inevitable that a babysitting job invitation will lose out to high school football games, dances, dates, or even the chance to veg at home.

Then once you finally find someone you love, you don’t want to let them go! Making someone happy on the job – and ensuring they’ll want to sit again – can be tricky. Below I share some sticky sitter scenarios I’m sure we can all relate to (and maybe there are some scenarios you’re dealing with). Either way, leave a comment below and let us know how you’d handle the following:

~ When you call your first-choice sitter and get their voice mail, do you wait to hear back from them (even if it could take days) or do you call other sitters on your list – and hire the first one to respond? This scenario is meant for those of us who make last minute plans; not those who plan well in advance.

~ If you don’t hear back from one of your favorite sitters, do you cross them off your list due to lack of responsibility, or chalk it up to the fact they’re young and busy?

~ If your sitter is a female and doesn’t yet drive, who drives her home? The male or female parent? This has been a topic of discussion with many of my friends and family members.

~ Do you always pay your sitter in cash, or have you also paid by check? Why or why not?

~ What do you pay them? If you need some ideas, check this post we ran earlier on TMoM.

~ Do you allow your sitter to invite a friend along? A boyfriend? A girlfriend?

~ Do you allow your sitter to help his or herself to whatever you have in the fridge and/or pantry?

~ Do you allow your sitter to use your computer?

~ Do you pay them less while your child is sleeping? This is another topic that has come up among my friends and family.

~ Do you ask your sitter to do other things around the house (either while the kids are asleep or awake), like dishes or ironing?

~ Similarly, do you pay sitters more around the holidays? Or get them a gift?

Chime in and leave your comments below!