Since I am working from home out at the house this summer, I hired someone local to babysit for about two-three hours on weekdays. Her job was to pick up the girls from camp at 4pm, play with them in the afternoon, bathe them before dinner and get their camp stuff together for the following day. The plan was also to have her come early once a week to do laundry, some light housekeeping, and a few errands if necessary.
After three days, she quit.
Now. I’m not sure if this was due to me (I tend to think of myself as a pretty easy person to work for), due to the kids (I like to believe they’re pretty adorable as far as kids go), or both. She says none of the above. She says she thought the job would be more about watching the kids and it seemed like it was more about doing chores around the house.
But since that was in the job description from the get go, I’m guessing the issue was more about what happens when me and my kids are all in the same house at the same time, especially when someone else is supposed to be watching them.
It’s really hard for Mazzy and Harlow to do their own thing when they know I am in the other room.
It’s also hard for me to get any work done while actively ignoring them.
So instead, I end up doing a hybrid of the two which just makes everything worse. I try to devote a little attention their way, while also making it clear that I’ve still got work to do. But…once the kids get a taste of time with mom, they want more. And if they can’t leave me alone, I either completely capitulate to their wants and needs, or I get really frustrated. Probably if I was consistently mad, it would be more effective. But I’m wishy washy. I try to have it both ways and the kids know that if they fight hard enough they might win.
Me working from home is basically a babysitter’s nightmare.
When she quit over text on Day 3, I have to say I wasn’t surprised. In truth, I had already been thinking that it might be easier without her. I texted back, “That’s fine. I understand. Maybe I don’t need a sitter as much as I thought I did.” And then, instead of trying to find someone new, I decided I am just going to figure it out on my own.
It will mean I have a shortened work day since I have to leave to pick up Mazzy and Harlow from camp at 3:30pm, but hopefully, it will also mean that I can get good quality time with them at normal hours, put them to bed a little earlier and actually get some work done at night. After all, Mike isn’t here during the week so no one else needs my attention after the kids are asleep.
I’m actually looking forward to it. The summer seems like a good time to temporarily reprioritize if you are lucky enough to have the flexibility. Plus, the girls are older and have these rare glorious moments when the neediness subsides. They are also much more active in the blog now (thanks to YouTube), so the afternoons seem like the perfect time for a baking tutorial, a neighborhood tour or whatever other little video bits they come up with. Mazzy already has about ten ideas.
It also just sounds like a nice chunk of time to close the computer and hang out, while the weather’s nice and they still want to hang out with me. God knows, as Mazzy and Harlow ask for more sleepovers and playdates, I already see that window closing soon.
And if necessary, I have a very reliable babysitter in my back pocket. She doesn’t do laundry or pack lunches but she’s incredibly effective at keeping the kids engaged and out of the room.
I call her “The Television.”
I work all the time as a sitter and nanny. I dread jobs while the parents are too unless I have an established relationship with the kids. Even then, those times are some of the hardest. I often want to ask them why ask me to be here if you are too? It feels like I’m doing a terrible job because I can’t hold the kid’s attention the way a parent can if they are also present, nor would I expect to. In these situations, everyone seems exhausted and cranky by the end, and I’m left wondering why they bothered to pay me to be left like that.
In her position I would have said to you that “I can’t do my job effectively with the kids or bond with them (what sounds like the issues), if you’re around, because this is what happens. Can we change or modify the set up?” I also don’t blame her for leaving, but you sound like a good parent-boss. It’s a shame she couldn’t or didn’t want to work it out.
Fellow nanny here. Agree with everything said. It doesn’t matter how easygoing and nice the parents are. Sitters/nannies together rarely works. It’s just confusing for everyone. My current bosses often work from home and they are really frustrating days for me. But on ‘people level’ we get on really well.
Ilana, it is clear to me that you are approaching this situation with 3 very important P’s in mind – perspective, positivity and patience. Perspective in seeing the bigger picture of enjoying time with your girls while you can. Positivity in your mindset that instead of resenting not having Mike’s help during the week, seeing it as an opportunity to carve out work time in the evening and allow more time with the girls during the day. Patience in understanding the sitter’s point of view and adjusting your plan on a dime. You’re leading by example and doing a stellar job of showing Mazzy and Harlow how to practice the P’s with grace!
I was a sitter for a momma who was around while I was there. It took some time to get in the groove but it all worked out well. Boundaries are SUPER important for mom to establish but it also helped me to take the kids outside to play when mom was home early on. Once the relationship is established, the kids had special things they wanted to do with me when I arrived so It was easier for me to take over. It took time but it was my best sitter job ever.
I work from home and it’s a fine balance with nannies and sitters. I try to stay out of sight in my office and tell them mommy is really busy so only if it’s an emergency. That doesn’t always work with my youngest, you need a take charge sitter to be able to handle the situation. I end my workday at 3 or 4 to hang out with the kids and take them to activities. I’d rather do work after they are asleep so I can spend time with them while they are little. Best of luck!
Navigating work and kids is never easy but you seem to have been flexible enough to have changed your original plan and make some really great decisions. I found that when my kids were younger, babysitters were the most helpful when they actually took the kids out of the house to the park or for some other out of the house adventure. Later when they came home it was already bath time. The kids were ready to be bathed by the sitter knowing that I was getting dinner ready and that we would soon be hanging out together in the kitchen.
I could 100% get 0% work done with kids at home, even with a sitter. I think your idea is a good one, and suggest you keep your office door closed 😉 Good luck, sister!
I was a live in nanny one summer for a farming family during harvest. The mom just needed a little extra help with her kiddos and with chores around the house. I just did whatever she needed in that day and that moment. There were a few tasks regarding the kids that were designated as every day things, but I mostly just went with the flow and did whatever she needed me to do to make her load lighter. Honestly we had a great relationship even though we didn’t know each other previously, and I had so much fun that summer. I think it’s totally possible to be a babysitter while the parent(s) are there, you (as the mom) just have to have clear expectations of what you need, and the sitter needs to understand those and be okay with them. I just took the kids outside when momma needed to get things done around the house, and I did household stuff if she was busy with the kids!
I think this sounds like a great set-up! Maybe Mommyshorts can get a sitter like this for 2 days a week – where she is still being involved with the kids but has an extra hand to help with kid stuff or house stuff or to get an extra hour of work done!
What’s that supposed to mean?
I only recently started following you (maybe going on a year now) and your posts are great! I love following the life of Harlow (though Mazzy is cool, too!) on IG. I love mom and lifestyle blogs. I used to work as a sitter for a set of twins while I was in undergrad and I totally get what you mean when the kids are a little different when mom (or any parent) is home. However, I had a magical relationship with my ‘kids’ and their parents, so, thank goodness that didn’t happen with me! Sorry she broke up with you, but it looks like you’ve got it figured out!