On house sitting and baby sitting

It’s that time of the year again. Silly season! Where parties are plenty and there is a plethora of travel plans.

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As the unemployed black sheep of the family, I usually get asked to help out here and there with house sitting and baby sitting.

At the end of every house sitting or baby sitting session, I always swear state “I’m never doing that again!”

While it’s fun, it’s also a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Kids are hard work. You literally spend the entire day running around and cleaning up after them, it’s like a full time job and I applaud all mothers and nannies/house helps/maids/domestic workers out there.

To avoid any awkward situations, I’ve come up with a few ground rules that parents can benefit from in making their lives and mine the babysitter’s easier.

One
Parent’s must not LIE to the baby sitter. When we ask if the kids don’t eat anything, this is an opening. Take it! Use it! This is your chance to let us know whether they are fussy eaters, what their favourite food is, what tactics we can use to get them to eat etc. This is not the time to be shy and say no, they eat everything. And letting us know they are picky eaters 2 days into the babysitting gig is NOT ON! All it causes is frustration on both mine and the child’s part. I have dealt with babies that want you to “fix” a fruit after cutting it, I’ve dealt with babies that need to be coaxed into eating by offering dessert and/or pancakes for breakfast the next morning, I’ve dealt with babies that walk all over the house and I have to follow  them around and give a spoon of food every now. But that’s ok, because I’m patient. I can spend two hours coaxing the child to eat provided I knew beforehand what I was working with!

Two
I am a babysitter. Not the house help. I will cook and feed the kids. I will bath them. Heck I will even do the dishes and clean up after the kids but I will not do their laundry. I will not do thorough cleaning. You know that spring cleaning that our Zimbabwean mums love to spring up on us! Yeah… that one. No… I won’t be doing any of that.  If you want these additional extras, we now have to talk money!

Three
Unless you are 1 of my 4 siblings, I will move in and help with the kids for a maximum of 1 week. Siblings get more time. My role is to help you while you organise yourself and organise your lives! After that, you need to have sorted yourself out.

Four
For house sitting gigs, please understand I will not be a slave to your house. Meaning I will leave the house. I will go and meet friends. I will go out. I have a life and I will live it but I will always sleep at home. And I will make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, bins are taken out and lights are switched on and off so you don’t need to worry about the general safety of your house.

Five
Please leave your house in a decent manner. I will keep the house neat and tidy meaning I’ll clean up after myself and I might even spruce the place up just before you return home but if I feel you left too much of a mess in a certain room, best believe I will not step into that room or even attempt to get things in order.

Six
If you are particular about how  a babysitter must take care of your kids during your absence, it helps if you leave a schedule with an indication of meal times, bath times, bed time routines etc. One of my sister in laws has a schedule and during the early days when I had to be home alone with my nephew, it helped to know what to feed him and when, when to schedule playtimes, when tv was allowed etc. I will try to stick to it as much as I can within reason.

Seven
Please book my services in advance. By the time  you book your flights, let me know your plans because I’ll also be making my own plans and gone are the days where I’ll be cancelling my own plans to accommodate yours.

So darling friends and family, before you ask me to take care of your place or your kids this festive season, please give the above guidelines some thought. It’s all peace and love!

DISCLAIMER: My baby sitting duties come free of charge. These duties are also only for family or really really REALLY close friends.

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