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Got Issues with Your Sitter?

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It's not always easy to express your dissatisfaction to a caregiver or ask her to change. We asked momlogic Child Care Expert Genevieve Thiers to share her tips to help those slightly uncomfortable conversations go more smoothly and effectively.

woman talking with a caregiver

Genevieve Thiers: One of my colleagues once confided in me something about her babysitter she wished she could change: During meals, the sitter would record the child's feeding times ... and nothing else. 12:13 PM. 5:02 PM. Technically, she was doing her job. But my colleague wanted to know more to feel more connected.

Soften Your Approach

  • Point out something great your caregiver has done recently and use it to move into the conversation. Example: "It's so great that you take the time to tell me when my son ate! I love knowing what goes on, and it would be great if you could tell me more, like ..."
  • Use your child as the entrance into the conversation, if he's old enough. Example: "Billy mentioned that he really liked the sandwich you made for him last week, but he can't remember what kind it was. Would you mind recording more about their meals from now on?"
  • Use another caregiver from the past. (Use sparingly.) Example: "Our last sitter always fed the kids junk food, so I'm a little neurotic about meals now! Can you record a little more information, like ..."

Talking Tactics

  • Stick to the key points. While there may indeed be 375 reasons why your babysitter should record more about your child's meals, don't run through all of them. Keep the conversation focused, otherwise your main points may get diluted in the unfocused discussion.
  • Make sure those key points are short and sweet. Long-winded explanations and minor details can lose your caregiver's interest and make her less open to these discussions in the future. Keep her attention and you'll keep the lines of communication more open.
  • Don't assign blame. You and your caregiver are on the same side -- you're working together to ensure she has the appropriate information and tools to best do her job. Don't point your finger or harp on her role in the situation, since the whole point is to find a solution or compromise, not to create a division between you.
  • Encourage your caregiver to share her concerns with you too. Communication is, as they say, a two-way street. If you make it clear to your nanny that you want her feedback as well, she'll be more willing to listen to yours now that you're in a give-and-take relationship.

Make Time for Meetings

You don't have to wait until there's a problem to have discussions with your caregiver. In fact, you shouldn't. To keep the lines of communication constantly open, schedule brief meetings to catch up and voice concerns, on both ends.

Of course, when you're rushing out of the house, your sitter is trying to get settled, and your child is pulling her in five different directions, it's not the ideal time to try to communicate anything beyond, "Be home at six, dinner's in the fridge!" Since timing is everything, the best time to meet with your caregiver is when you're both relaxed and prepared.

Have a brief five-minute discussion with your sitter when you come home, just to catch up on the day's activities and get a quick report. Beyond that, setting aside an extra 10-20 minutes each month to talk in person or on the phone will also do wonders for your child care relationship.

Find hundreds -- even thousands -- of local caregivers on Sittercity.com.


next: Mama Needs a Vacation!
1 comments so far | Post a comment now
MyKiddosMom May 4, 2009, 2:54 PM

If this is a babysitter okay but if you’re talking about a childcare provider give them a little break. Many daycares have up to 10-12 children for one adult. When do you think she has the time to record down what and when each child ate? Or the other details of their day? If you’re going to have someone else take care of your children you have to accept that you will lose a lot of knowledge about that time you are away.


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