She’s Had Enough
Again, she was left high and dry when she received the message out of the blue. It’s the sixth babysitter in six months without explanation. Her tired eyes stung with tears.
Although she was aware that she needed to take some very cunning actions, she was never aware of the true source of all her issues.
The story begins with Bridget Elks. As most moms know, juggling motherhood and a career is no easy task.
After her marriage hadn’t gone according to plan, she had to work full-time just to keep herself and her three children afloat. After calling in all her favors from friends and relatives, eventually, she had no choice. She desperately needed some help.
After conducting a few interviews, one young woman really stood out. Bridget introduced her to her children — six-year-old Marie and 1-year-old Kirk.
She ended up hiring Lisa on the spot, thinking all her problems would soon be over. Bridget felt like she could finally breathe easy… but that didn’t last long.
Everything Was Going Well
Bridget considered herself lucky to have found a great babysitter so quickly. In just a few weeks, the young woman had become part of the family.
Bridget felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders because she no longer had to take time off to take Marie to preschool, playdates, and extracurricular activities. But she wasn’t prepared for the bombshell that followed.
Three weeks later, Bridget received an alarming text message from Lisa that left her shocked and confused. The nanny informed her that she was resigning with immediate effect and asked Bridget to have her final paycheck ready that evening.
When Bridget arrived home that evening, Lisa abruptly left without another word. Clearly, something had happened.
High And Dry
Lisa later told Bridget over text that she had quit because of Marie… but that couldn’t be right. Bridget knew her child and she refused to believe it.
Angrily defending her little angel, she told Lisa that her abrupt resignation had been very unprofessional. Now, she had to begin the hiring process all over again. Six months later, Bridget was at her wit’s end.
When the sixth nanny walked out the door, Bridget couldn’t believe it. Sure, looking after two kids can be a handful, but she paid these women well and didn’t think she wasn’t asking for too much.
The problem couldn’t be with her or her children, could it? Why were they all so unreliable?
Getting To The Bottom Of It
When Bridget hired Meg, the seventh nanny, she already had a plan in place. She had borrowed a few nanny cams from her friends to get to the bottom of the problem.
She hadn’t believed the other women when they said that Marie had been the problem, so she set the cameras up all over the house to see what was really going on.
Everything happened like clockwork. Just like the previous times she’d hired a new nanny, things seemed to go well in the beginning. But, sure enough, Bridget received the seventh nanny’s resignation just two weeks later.
But, this time, Bridget would be able to see exactly what had happened for herself. But when she watched the footage, she was horrified.
Bridget’s eyes grew wider the more she watched. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Marie never acted this way around her, so she had no reason to believe all the babysitters’ vague allegations.
In the first week, Marie was a little angel. But, toward the end, Bridget didn’t even recognize her own daughter.
A Bad Attitude
Bridget watched Meg politely ask Marie to hand her the baby’s diaper bag because her hands were full. “You can’t tell me what to do!” the little girl screeched, “I’m the boss of you!”
Every time Meg asked Marie to do something — like wash her hands before lunch or get ready for school — Marie would refuse. Bridget was furious.
The Day She Quit
The last straw for Meg had been the day she had resigned. She had asked Marie, who was running around and making a noise, to please quieten down because her baby brother had just fallen asleep.
“I’m the boss of you! I’ll get you fired!” Marie screamed in the babysitter’s face. Bridget watched as Meg tried to de-escalate the situation, then she reached for her phone.
A Little Talk
Bridget sat Marie down and explained that she had to respect her babysitter. She showed her the evidence that she’d been acting out and tried to talk to her calmly. She asked the 6-year-old if she thought her behavior was acceptable.
But Marie’s response left her absolutely floored. “We pay her. I’m her boss,” Marie snapped back. Where was this behavior coming from?
While Bridget scrambled to try and find a replacement nanny, there was no one to take Marie to her swimming lessons. When the little girl complained, Bridget pointed out that she was to blame.
“She is the reason that her sitter quit and until I can find someone new, she won’t get to do the fun activities that her sitter took her to,” the furious mom vented on parenting group on Facebook. But was that punishment enough?
A Suitable Punishment?
“I was furious with my daughter and let her have it. She had several things taken away from her and she didn’t do anything remotely fun until recently.”
Bridget continued: “I also stopped arranging playdates for her and the friend who treated her nanny terribly (they don’t go to the same school), so they don’t see each other at all anymore.” But what did other parents think?
“Her actions impacted someone enough to make them quit a job they were being paid to do. She has soiled her reputation as word spreads fast within the babysitter community if a child treats their caregiver like that,” one mom wrote on the original post.
“I imagine this wasn’t three isolated events but more like it was happening way more frequently but those three times were when the babysitter was at her last straw.” Then, other babysitters leveled their opinion of the whole situation.
Other Babysitters Speak Out
“I babysit some kids in the rich part of town, and they have friends like Ops kids friends. In the beginning, the kids tried to treat me like that. I had a chat with the parents and said they can deal with it on their end but if they wanted me to keep watching the kids I’d be dealing with it on my end too,” one user replied.
“I was lucky that the parents supported my punishments. It definitely helps when the problem is tackled on both sides as a United force, but kids will be kids and what works for one definitely doesn’t work for all.” Then, a professional chimed in.
“It sounds to me like she was unhappy with the situation, the fact she had a sitter in the first place,” Vicki Broadbent, founder of the parent’s blog Honest Mum, wrote.
“Maybe she wasn’t feeling like her needs were being met (e.g. she might have felt she wasn’t being listened to, had lost all autonomy over even the smallest of decisions, clashed with her personality-wise, or most likely, was feeling a little abandoned by her parents in this scenario).” So, could Bridget have handled the whole situation differently?
A Bigger Issue
Vicki pointed out that, while most single moms need help with childcare and are not “abandoning” their children when they get help, it may have been understandable for Marie to have felt let down by her mom.
Vicki pointed out that Marie might have felt especially resentful about the whole situation when the reasons for needing a sitter were not explained to her properly by her mom.
Insights Into Marie’s Behavior
Vicki said that it’s so important for parents to always explain the “why” behind decisions and scenarios – and this is especially true when they might affect them emotionally.
Instead of just expecting Marie to accept a babysitter, she needed to be told exactly why Bridget had to hire one. So Bridget should have told Marie that she needed a babysitter because she had to work hard to be able to pay for Marie’s dolls, swimming lessons, food, etc. And the reasoning behind this?
Making Children Feel Emotionally Safe
“Reminding them how emotionally safe and loved they are, is key too… I personally hated having a nanny and later babysitters as a young child,” Vicki explained.
“I wanted to be with my parents at all times which is completely normal and natural, and although it was explained to me that they needed to work therefore I needed sitters, it didn’t make life that much easier for me.”
Marie Felt Hurt
According to Vicki, Marie may have felt hurt or like her feelings weren’t being considered – which caused her to act out. Marie was trying to tell her mother that she didn’t want a sitter and her acting out was a cry for help.
Does that mean Vicki thought Marie had behaved appropriately and that Bridget was in the wrong?
Listening To Them
“Yes, teaching children that they can’t be rude is crucial but so is listening,” Vicki said.
“…and I mean really listening to them (to the unspoken as well as the spoken cues) and empathizing with their behavior while explaining better ways to express themselves so as not to hurt others.” But Vicki noticed something else about Marie’s behavior that indicated the scenario wasn’t quite as cut-and-dry as it seemed…
Bridget was right to tell Marie that she had been hurtful, but she should have also tried to understand why Marie was acting out in the first place.
“If they can’t describe why (it’s hard even for adults to self-reflect and psychoanalyze themselves), then it’s your job as a parent to put in the detective work and ensure they feel more supported,” Vicki said. So who else was in the wrong here?
“Furthermore, in this scenario, an adult must have at some point told the girl that she was the boss of her sitter, either in jest or in all seriousness as age 6 is quite young to understand the complexities of money and the power that might give someone,” Vicki concluded.
For Bridget, it had been a real eye opener. Also, after looking up “How to get your child ready for a nanny or babysitter” she realized some crucial steps she had missed. The first one made her feel particularly foolish.
In general, it’s important to build a solid bond and lines of communication – and not just the night before the new addition arrives. Give a child at least a week to process the new information. And, as mentioned before, tell them why. This eliminates as many unknowns as possible.
Here are more super-useful tips for any family and kids of any age.
Invite the new babysitter or nanny over for dinner a few days before her real shift starts.
This acts as a steppingstone and let’s the child get used to the idea of having a new person in their life. It goes a long way to easing most tensions. However, the meetup doesn’t end just because the plates are cleared.
After dinner, bring out one of the kiddo’s favorite game or activities.
This not only lets the nanny and child bone a little, but it also allows the parents to see how the two interact and communicate with each other. The next step is a “duo day.”
One Day Together
When it comes to successful transitions, there’s no such thing as over-communicating.
Have the nanny or babysitter come over and spend time going through the day or evening’s events, rituals, and necessities. Go about your day like you normally would, but have the new helper take part in everything from snack prep to getting them into bed.
Next, believe it or not, involves a special trick with toys.
Kids don’t like inconsistency. It doesn’t foster a sense of security. If the child knows what’s coming, they can handle it with flying colors. Parents can add another layer of confidence in their kids by doing one simple thing…
Just add the child’s favorite toys in the mix while doing everyday tasks.
Give them a usual toy when you go for a walk. Bring out their preferred book during bedtime. This lets them know that things aren’t really that different. They haven’t lost anything. The next one, however, might be a little more challenging.
A Fine Line
Having the kids feel in charge in some way can help by leaps and bounds.
This can be done by bringing them along when the nanny or babysitter comes by for their first visit. Let them show their “new friend” around the house or take out the snacks they enjoy. But, there is one thing you have to be really careful with.
Not The Boss
While it’s important for them to feel safe, maybe even empowered, they can’t go around acting like a little maniac boss – like Marie did.
They need to know that the new person is the one in charge – without them feeling dominated. The house rules, such as homework and chores, remains intact. The final tip might be the hardest to navigate.
While it might be impossible to imagine someone else escorting your child to the “time out” corner while their crying like the world is about to end.
However, the nanny or babysitter needs to be able to correct unwanted behavior and remain in charge. This is where the parent’s communication is key.
Talk It Out
Moms and Dads must clearly outline what the nanny or babysitter is allowed to do and how they should go about it – maybe even take notes or send messages when it happens so parents can talk about it when they get home.
Well, there you have it! Simple tips and tricks to help any family – so they don’t have a situation like poor Bridget had to endure.
Enabling Bad Behavior
It is also crucial to mention that sometimes, kids can have their behavior enabled by their parents. This is more true when the kids pick said behavior from these parents.
In Seattle, an unfortunate babysitter drew the short stick when she decided to babysit for a new family. Melvina, the babysitter, babysat for families throughout junior high and high school to earn some spending money. She had no idea what was waiting for her.
A Great Sitter
She was a responsible and reliable sitter and had even made a name for herself in her neighborhood. Everyone loved her, and satisfied parents began recommending her to their friends.
So, when a family she had frequently worked for asked if she could take on a referral for their friends, Melvina agreed without a wasted thought.
The New House
When Melvina arrived at the new family’s house, two twin boys, who were eight years old, and a little girl just starting her toilet training greeted her at the door.
She said hi to them, loving their matching pajamas and how bubbly they were. She was already projecting a fun night for the four of them, not knowing that the kids had other plans entirely.
The kids led her to the living room, where she met and got acquainted with the parents. Like the children, the mom and dad were full of life and energy.
They called their kids to their laps and introduced each of them. Melvina loved how well-behaved and friendly the boys were. They seemed to adore each other and were protective of their little sister. But everything would go downhill as soon as their parents left.
A Brief Tour
The mom and dad gave Melvina a brief tour of the house, hurrying all over the place as they were already late for their reservation. Their children were running after them as they gave the tour, adorably laughing after them.
But the parents weren’t even gone for a second when all hell broke loose. They started running around the house, yelling at the top of their voices. They chased each other, causing a stir in the quiet neighborhood. But the night had only begun.
Melvina tried her best to bring order to the house. She began with attempts to calm the twins, convincing them to go and play video games in their room.
She was surprised when they agreed and raced to their room. When she opened the door after them, she found them huddled before their computer, happily gaming away. With their chaos all but quelled, she turned her sights to their little sister, who was having trouble using the toilet.
The little girl was unlike her big brothers. She was calm and composed, with big eyes and the sweetest smile Melvina had ever seen.
Since she was still potty training, she needed the sitter’s help. But as Melvina set to giving her a hand, a series of screams came from upstairs. She ate back a curse as worry flushed through her. What was happening up there?
Melvina left the girl on her potty, assuring her she was coming back. She raced upstairs, praying everything was alright. But nothing could have prepared her for what she found in the boys’ bedroom.
She swung the door open and almost fell back at what she saw. The boys were on different beds, with their pants down, engaged in a ‘pee pee duel’ with the other brother.
Urine sprayed everywhere, from the blue-painted walls to the thick carpet and on the laughing twins. Fury erupted within Melvina, overshadowing the confusion that boiled through her veins.
She reprimanded the boys for their bad behavior, asking them to change their clothes. She helped them source new pajamas before stripping their beds of the spoiled sheets. She thought everything would quiet down when it went from bad to worse.
Instead of wearing the clothes Melvina had laid out for them, the twins laughed and went on with their ridiculous game. But they didn’t confine themselves to their room anymore.
They dashed out through the door, having Melvina chase after them as they ran around spraying walls, curtains, and carpets with urine.
The Little One
Meanwhile, their little sister, who Melvina had all but forgotten about, was still in the toilet. She had no pants or undergarments and had successfully finished her business by herself.
Brimming with pride, she walked out of the toilet, dragging the potty with her, trying to find Melvina. She went to the kitchen, singing loudly about how she’d finally managed to go on the potty. The worst thing was about to happen.
It Gets Worse
One of her older brothers sprinted into the kitchen and knocked right into her, not knowing she was there. Her potty went flying, its contents spilling all over the kitchen floor.
Melvina had to hold back a scream, pulled to her wit’s end by a couple of kids. There was only one sensible thing to do now.
Melvina managed to dampen her temper and calm the twins. She checked on their little sister, cleaning her before tending to the boys.
Afterward, she set to clean the house as best as she could. The process was more difficult because she wasn’t familiar with the place and couldn’t remember where the cleaning supplies were.
The Parents Are Home
When the parents came home, Melvina quickly explained what had happened. She hoped they would at least give her extra compensation for what had happened.
But she was surprised when the parents didn’t even show an ounce of remorse for what their two boys had done. She didn’t even receive an apology. Only one thing was clear.
It was clear that the boys were used to acting so wild without as much as a reprimand from their parents. The two adults who were supposed to teach them right and wrong were enabling bad behavior.
It goes without saying that, as parents, we are supposed to teach and reinforce. As for Melvina, well, that was the last time she ever babysat for that family.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.