Dear Geeky Nanny: I have a babysitter who has been watching my two year old since she was 8 months old. In the past I didn't mind her being on her cell phone while babysitting, because my daughter wasn't as active. Now that my daughter is active it really bothers me every time I come home and my daughter's toys are strewed all over the place and my daughter is just sitting in front of the television. What can I do, or say to her to have her stop using the phone? I really like her as our babysitter, but this may make me find a new babysitter that can keep up with my daughter's growing needs. She only watches my daughter for a couple of hours a day. Also, she is 25 years old. Does age have anything to do with this issue? Thanks so much!
- Abigail from Indiana
Dear Abigail: It can be frustrating when the babysitter and the family are not on the same page. I think your problem can be easily solved by having a informal meeting with your babysitter. Before talking about the problem of cell phone usage while babysitting start the conversation off by sharing all of the great qualities you like that she has as your babysitter. Make the conversation as relaxing as possible, but do firmly share how you are frustrated with the lack of engagement and you believe it is because of the cell phone. You mentioned before her being on her cellphone didn't bother you as much until your daughter became active. Offer your babysitter suggested ideas of activities to keep engaged with your daughter. It is best to have a written schedule for your babysitter to go by. Babysitters actually love scheduled days with their babysitting kids it helps them to stay energized in their role as a babysitter. If you absolutely don't want your babysitter to never be on the cell phone make that clear. If your daughter is sleeping while being babysat, perhaps you won't mind if she is on the cell phone. Be clear when sharing your cell phone rules while babysitting for your daughter.
I am not sure if age has anything to do with your babysitter's cell phone usage. Maybe not having a schedule to follow may have bored the babysitter and your daughter hence why they may resort to screen time. Many babysitters have an age that they best prefer to work with. I am not saying this is the case, but maybe your babysitter may prefer to work with infants. As your child grows older there will need to be adjustments to the schedule you prepare for the babysitter. Share the goals you have for your daughter with your babysitter. This may prompt the babysitter to brainstorm activities she would like to do with your daughter too.
My best advice to you is for you to make a list of qualities you want in a babysitter. Create a ideal schedule for your child when she spends time with the babysitter that you would like them to follow. Once you done this have the conversation mentioned above. Most likely, your babysitter will ditch the cell phone and start doing more engaging activities with your daughter. Open communication is the key in order to maintain a healthy, professional relationship with your babysitter. Remember, it's always best to address a problem when it arises so that it doesn't become a bigger issue.
I hope this helps!
The Geeky Nanny