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I'm the Babysitter, Not the Housekeeper

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Guest blogger Mary Poppins: I hate to sound greedy, but if you want me to clean your house you are going to have to pay me more than $10 an hour. In fact, even if you did pay me more, I would still not do it because I'm also watching your three kids all under the age of 5.

Woman cleaning. Kids playing
I don't know what world you live in, but FYI watching three toddlers IS hard. I don't have time to steam their play clothes, mop the floors and dust the furniture. I barely have time to get their breakfast bowls in the sink by the time lunch rolls around.

I know this probably seems foreign to you since you are never home with all three of your kids at one time because they "overwhelm" you when you are on your own, but that's what I do. So please spare me the lecture that you and your husband are OCD germaphobes and you like things overly cleaned because guess what -- I'm NOT DOING IT! I refuse wholeheartedly to iron your 10-month-old daughter's socks so that they don't have wrinkles when we go for a walk. I also refuse to iron pajamas. That is just stupid.

When you take them to your firm's holiday party, yes. I will dress your girls in the taffeta dresses and I will iron your sons' dress shirts so they all look adorable. However, please refrain from explaining to me for the ten millionth time how you like YOUR clothes to be washed. Because again, I'M NOT DOING IT! You are seriously deranged if you think for one second I'm going to go into your and your husband's hamper and wash your clothes. Get a maid or learn how to sort your whites from your darks and press start.

You keep getting confused on what you hired me for, but don't worry, I'm paid to watch your kids, so that's all I'm doing.

next: Choose Your Child's Gender!
24 comments so far | Post a comment now
ashley February 2, 2009, 8:02 AM

When I was 12 I had this one babysitting job sitting for 2 kids, about 8 and 6. The dad was a lawyer friend of my dads. They would stay out really late and come home drunk. Well, they didn’t call me for awhile and when they finally did, the 8 year old said, “we love you but Mommy said you don’t clean up after yourself and that’s why she hasn’t called you!” First of all, the last time I was there, I had mopped there entire HUGE kitchen floor! Second of all, those kids were WILD and I was always picking up there messes! It made me so mad!!

Deborah February 2, 2009, 8:52 AM

This is a common complaint I hear from nannies all the time. Some families get it, some will probably never get it. The best advice I can give is to discuss all expectations during the interview. Make sure you know what Mom expects and make sure she knows what you expect. Then iron out a work agreement that you both sign. You can find a sample work agreement on

Barb February 2, 2009, 10:15 AM

Weird, I would never expect a babysitter to clean my house. I hire a babysitter to watch the kids, and that’s all I expect. Back when I used to babysit, cleaning never came up in discussions with the parents, but if I had lots of time after the child was in bed, I would do the dishes and/or tidy up the toys just because I had time. But I wouldn’t try to do those things while caring for a baby; keeping the baby happy and safe was the No. 1 job.

Nancy February 2, 2009, 11:17 AM

babysitters are to watch the children; maids are for house cleaning……….

buzz February 2, 2009, 11:46 AM

Sometimes I would clean just a little if I knew there was competition for my babysitting job.

Carrie February 2, 2009, 11:56 AM

I don’t really understand this. We stay-at-home moms clean the house while taking care of the kids, so why would we hire someone to stand in for us who only does half the job?
Sure, the examples cited in the above post are silly, but doing a little laundry or cleaning while watching kids doesn’t seem silly. Honestly, I don’t think it’s good for children to have a caregiver hovering over them at all times. Besides, children nap, and if they’re too old to nap then they should be old enough to pursue some independent activities like reading. So what is the nanny supposed to do during these times? Sleep?
As far as pay, as long as minimum wage laws are being followed, that’s up to the market, isn’t it? If other people are paying more than $10 an hour for babysitting and cleaning combined, by all means, go work for them, and your employer will learn they have to pay more for what they want done.
I just don’t see it as a moral issue or some kind of logical law that cleaning and childcare should be two separate jobs. They’re not two separate jobs for parents who don’t work outside the home.

Dionne February 2, 2009, 12:16 PM

I agree with the article. She is a babysitter not a maid. If they want a babysitter plus a maid they should pay her $20 per hour. Cleaning the dishes and picking up the toys after is no big deal but anything beyond that I would be insulted. Are they going to have her doing the lawncare next?

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 12:28 PM

Wow I only get paid $20 a day to watch one girl at my house and I feed her. I watch her and keep her stimulated but I also have to clean cause it’s my own freaking house. I have her and my own two year old running around all day so it gets crazy. Maybe I should charge more to pay myself to be my own maid.

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 12:59 PM

When I was in grade 8, I babysat 2 young kids, before and after school. Dad was a paramedic and mom was a nurse, so they worked shifts. I was there feeding them supper one night and since they were just watching TV after, I got bored and did all the dirty dishes, not just the ones that we’d used for the meal. After that, the parents would always make a point of telling me NOT to worry about cleaning and doing dishes and stuff, even the ones the kids and I used. I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time, then I remembered that one time I did the dishes for them! Guess I lucked out with that family!

Anonymous February 2, 2009, 2:07 PM

I’d have to agree with the most recent post. I always found something to tidy up after the kids went to bed. The parents always said I didn’t need to do that, but what else was I supposed to do?

strictly sitting February 2, 2009, 2:19 PM

“We stay-at-home moms clean the house while taking care of the kids, so why would we hire someone to stand in for us who only does half the job?”
Because Carrie you are hiring a baby-sitter - not a baby/house sitter. One job, one price. And of course they are not 2 separate jobs for YOU - because YOU are the stay at home mom and it is YOUR mess YOU are cleaning. If we use your logic one would think hiring a house cleaner meant they were also expected to watch your children. Or when you go to a restaurant do you expect your server to watch and feed your children because that is what you do at home and it’s not 2 separate jobs? Your statement is illogical at best. A sitter should only tidy up after themselves.

K&C's mom February 2, 2009, 11:38 PM

When I used to babysit, I would clean up any mess the kids and I made, but I never cleaned the parents’ messes or did laundry. That wasn’t my job, now as a mom, I don’t expect my babysitter to clean up our messes, just their own.

Theresa February 3, 2009, 2:05 AM

Carrie, you’re dumb. Anonymous, you’re even more dumb because you accept 20 dollars a day to watch someone’s kid. Since your both so idiotic, please refrain from commenting.

Lina February 3, 2009, 10:18 AM

To the stay-at-home-moms,
It’s a different situation for you and for the babysitters mentioned in this blog. You are well aware of your position and your role. Whether or not your role was truly chosen or an ends to a mean, your role was known. However, these babysitters often come into homes only expecting to have to watch the kids. Why should these babysitters do more than babysit their charges unless they choose to? Because YOU have to? That’s just silly. Different roles, different positions, different responsibilities.

But I wholeheartedly sympathize with you because your position is often under appreciated.

Alexia February 3, 2009, 10:39 AM

Babysitters should not have to clean. They are not stay at home moms. These are not their kids. Nor it is their house. They are getting paid to watch YOUR kids. While they should clean up after the KIDS it’s ridiculous to expect them to do your household chores in addition to watching the kids.

Karen February 3, 2009, 10:42 AM

There’s nothing “dumb” about accepting 20 bucks a day to watch a child in your own home. In these tough financial times, an extra $100 a week can go a long way. She’s already home with her own child anyway. It’s not as if she’s running a full scale day care business with a lot of overhead costs involved. They probably have a cash only agreement which means she pockets the $400 a month. In turn, she’s really helping out the other mother who may be a low wage earner who can’t afford much more than that. It sounds like they’re both benefiting from their arrangment to me.

Anonymous February 5, 2009, 7:28 AM

Wow, Carrie — do you really think what you do as a mom (stay-at-home or not) could be replicated by a teenager being paid $10/hour? Please, have a little more respect for yourself.

myles February 24, 2009, 8:45 PM

im naver ben baby sitting befor but i can help you judt tell me where you live.

melanie May 11, 2009, 2:35 PM

People awlays want more for their buck. I think you should be more concerned about your children’s safety and happienss then a load of laudry and dusting getting done. i think if the childcare giver is respoinsible and the house is not being bunred down be happy and QUIT THE BITCHIN’ you need to hire a housekeeper as well. The babysister is entitled to light cleaning but she is not entitled to to be a complete housekeeper. You need to pay for that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m sorry to tell this but live in nannies that do it all are paid well and they deserve to be paid well. Because they simplify your life while your out being selfish doing whatever you want to do and the quality of your home is improved. I think you should be ashamed for having high expecatations of the cleanliness of your home for free! No one works for free. Why should they? Do it yourself or add way more money to the hourly rate. But your children will not be as closey watched as the babysitter is on her hands knees srubbing the crud off the bathroom floor. Sorry but they are two different jobs!!!!

Weejjfjp June 27, 2009, 2:19 PM

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