Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Littles Learning Link Up: Guest Post- How To Be a Great Mom For Your Teen Kid-Sitters

Welcome to Littles Learning Link Up. Each month you will find:
  • A seasonal round-up (at the beginning of the month)
  • A guest post featuring crafts, activities, tips, snack ideas or other early childhood topics. (the third week of the month)
  • Posts where I share what I have been up to with my preschoolers and/or early elementary children (with the occasional free printable).
Each week, I will host a link up, where you can share either what you have been up to recently, or old posts that may go with the theme.  Feel free to link up more than one post.

Each week I will continue to feature a couple of posts from those that have been linked up. 

I hope you will continue to share your wonderful posts, and I hope you will find something new to try with your child.

Today I am excited to introduce you to Carol from Home Sweet Life.

Carol and her husband Kurt educate their two High-School-aged daughters all over the Midwest, with a home base of Indiana. Carol and the girls blog about family-friendly field trips, faith, gardening, 4-H, football and more @ Home Sweet Life.

How to Be a Great Mom for Your Teen Kid-Sitters

Some Moms panic the first time they need to arrange for a sitter for their children. Now that we're on the side of having the sitters, instead of needing the sitters, I wanted to share a few things we've learned from being on both sides of the equation. A side note: my friends have been awesome about letting our girls learn how to be better sitters by spending time watching their children. So if any of you are reading this: Thank you!

There are three main parts to having a successful time for both you and your children when hiring a sitter - be prepared, enjoy your time away, and finish well.

Be Prepared

Several things come to mind that you should consider doing before you leave home besides the obvious ones of writing down your cellphone number, children's names, ages, and food allergies, and your home address.

A- Not every teen has their own cell phone. How will your sitter contact you if they have legitimate questions or an emergency arises? Do you have a home phone, an extra cell phone to leave with the sitter, or a neighbor who will be home who would be willing to let the teen borrow their phone? Another option is to set up a messaging app on your iPod or tablet and show the teen how to use it to text you. Do a trial run on this option when you're still at home so your sitter can write down the steps to help them remember.

B- Get to know your sitter(s) ahead of the time you want them to watch your children. Start your search by considering teens that your children already know - perhaps the teens of your church or your neighborhood. Set up an intro session of about 20-30 minutes on a day before the event that you're leaving for. Show your sitter around the house, where the light switches are, how to adjust the heat/AC, and where to find your children's things: pj's, snacks, special blankie, books, etc. Introduce the sitter to your children, and any pets your might have. Show them how the CD/TV/DVD player works if that is an option. Try to plan to have your sitter at least once every 6 months, even if it is only for a couple hours, so your children remain comfortable having them around.

C-Discuss things with your sitter in advance. Even an experienced sitter is going to have questions that need answered for your family. Some common things to think about: are your children going to be allowed to watch TV or a movie? What movie have you picked out for them to watch that day/night? What is your family's bedtime routine? Who will drop off the sitter and take them home at the end of the time if they don't drive yet? Will you have fed your children already, or are you expecting them to prepare a meal, and how? Many young teens do fine with making sandwiches or microwaving popcorn, but are not prepared to make pasta or or bake a frozen pizza in an oven that is different than theirs at home.

Discuss with your sitter how you want them to handle any problems. If a child is disobedient do you want them to have privileges taken away or be sent to bed early? Remember, your teen sitter is there to follow the rules you have established, not to blaze new trails into parenting. You ARE going to want them to come back again!

Even if you're not a big snacking family, you need to consider how long you will be gone... and you need to consider leaving something for your sitter to eat after your children are in bed (assuming its an evening.) If you're planning to feed your children dinner before the sitter arrives, plan a small snack that they can share with the children later, and then also let them know of some other small thing you have available for the sitter if they are hungry again before you return home.

Talk at length about where your children are allowed to be while the sitter is over. If you want them to stay inside, make that obvious. If you have outdoor play equipment, ask your potential sitter if they are ok with taking your children outside, and how long they can be out before sunblock or bug spray is needed. If there are rooms, like a home office, where your children must NOT go, make sure your sitter knows that so your children don't try to sneak one over on them.

Discuss everything about how you will compensate your teen sitter before the event! Some sitters have a set rate they charge per child per hour, while many are willing to negotiate. Talk with them about payment per hour or per event. While the going rate in your town may be $10/hr for up to two kids, your sitter may be quite content with $30 for a 4 hour job if they know you will call them again often. If your kids are sweet and well behaved it is easier to negate than if they're troublemakers. Check with your sitter beforehand about if your writing them a check is OK. Most teens don't have their own accounts, and several banks charge upwards of $10 to cash check for a non-member. If you need to write a check to their Mom for them to be able to get it cashed, you need to respect your sitter enough to discuss that beforehand. When in doubt - just pay cash!

Consider hiring a team of sitters (siblings often do kid-watching in tandem.) You should't be expected to pay more than you would for one sitter, but your sitters and your children may have a better time, especially if you have active children (i.e. more than one boy.)

Another thing about teen sitters, often they value things other than money. While most of them are kid-watching to raise cash, some will be willing to barter for part or all of their fees. Perhaps they are looking for something you could provide that would be a win-win situation for you both. Do you give piano lessons, teach horseback skills, own a beauty shop and would be willing to cut their hair? Don't let a lack of cash stop you from finding a way to enjoy an event away from your children once in a while, be creative - and willing to negotiate ahead of time!

D-Prepare your children for the sitter. Besides the initial meeting of the sitter, talk with your children in advance. A day or two before the sitter is scheduled to come, have your children help you plan an activity to do, or perhaps bake cookies with you to share with their sitter at snack time. Think about what YOU want your children and the sitter to do. Is there a special game, a DVD you've been saving, a new set of books from the library that you want to put in the 'sitter' basket? If your teen sitter is coming over in the afternoon, do you want to encourage them to play outdoors? Purchase some sidewalk chalk or bubbles from the dollar store, or clean up around the sandbox or swingset. When our girls were little, we had one sitter (upon the recommendation of a mutual friend,) who let the girls watch VHS tapes for 6 straight hours. I was so disappointed that this girl who was a big sister to many used so little effort in spending time with our girls. I didn't invite her back. While your sitter is there to entertain your children, it helps so much if you talk about expectations with both your children and the sitter, so everyone enjoys the time. 

Enjoy your time away
You have prepared well, and your sitter arrived on time. There is a list of emergency phone numbers, and a snack or two hidden in the pantry. Now go out and enjoy your time away! Watch your husband get that business award, or go to the coffee or bagel shop with your girlfriends. Go for a romantic stroll in the park with your husband, or watch a movie. For whatever reason you've chosen to get a sitter (it could be a huge Costco run, or even Goodwill shopping,) spend your time away well. Pray for your sitter and your children, and then entrust them to God's care. Moms (& Dads) who occasionally spend time away from their children find it much easier to love them upon their return!

Finish Well
Express your thanks in words, or a small note, to your teenaged sitter upon your return home. Pay them as previously discussed, and round up if necessary. If your agreed upon rate ends up totaling $38, be generous and give them $40. Ask your sitter if there is anything you need to know about: i.e. did the children eat all their dinner, were there any problems with behavior or getting them to brush their teeth before bed.

If your children are of an age to draw or write, ask them the next day if they would like to make a thank-you card for their sitter. Just finding a sitter can be challenging at times, but finding and keeping a great one is worth the extra effort!

A Few Other Thoughts
Unless your sitter is a lifeguard at your local pool or beach, please don’t ask a teen to be responsible for watching your children in a pool, or at another water activity. Many teens can swim well enough to play in the pool with their friends, but not well enough to be a lifeguard for your child or to teach your child to swim.

Set up a no-visitors during sitter time policy and stick with it. If my teen has agreed to watch your children, that is what she signed up for. She didn’t sign up to watch all of your child’s friends who want to drop by, nor is she in a situation where she can watch your child if they go next door to play. Your sitter is for your children at your house. If your children know that this is your policy, it will make it easier on them and the sitter if a friend does stop by and wants to play. It is quite alright for you to tell your sitter to not answer the door at all. 

If you’re not sure what the going rate is for a sitter in your area, ask around. The other Moms from your son’s baseball game or daughter’s dance class will be more than willing to chat about kid-sitters. Or ask your friends from church, not only will they help you know what to offer, they may have already found an excellent sitter or two they can recommend.

Having a sitter you can trust is a treasure. Enjoy your journey!

Now It's Time For:

Littles Learning Link Up Features

On my last Littles Learning Link Up post, there were 9 wonderful posts linked up. I will be picking one randomly selected post to share, plus the top clicked-on post.  

This week's randomly selected post is:

Betsy from BJ's Homeschool Encouragement and Resources shared Early Science Fun: Hands On.

The following posts tied for the most number of clicks:

1- A Cowboy's Life shared Horsin' Around Toilet Paper Craft.
2- A Little Pinch of Perfect shared Beautiful Stained Glass Paper Plate Craft for Kids.
3- Ducks 'n a Row shared Z is for Zoo Preschool Craft.

I would love to have you join in this week! What sort of activities do you do with your young children? Do you have some favorite activities you would like to share? I invite you to link up below. I will be pinning posts on my Toddler Ideas or other relevant board, and I would love to feature some of the activities each week from what is linked up.

Please know I may share a picture from your post and link back to it, along with sharing how we used your idea in our school time. By linking up you are giving me permission to use a picture from your post. I will ALWAYS give credit and link back. Additionally, if you choose to try out any of the ideas with your child, please make sure you give credit where credit is due.

Linky will be open through Sunday night, to give me time to check out all the posts and get the Features organized. Please take the time to visit some of the other wonderful posts linked up.



  1. Thanks so much for the fun linky. How fun to have a 3 way tie! :)

  2. Great advice for hiring a teen sitter. Thanks for the tips.

  3. What a great post! Thanks for sharing, and for hosting the linky!

  4. That sounds like a great way to get new information for the kids. Great idea.

  5. Thanks for sharing on Social Butterfly Sunday! Hope to see you link up again this week :)


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