Ok, first of all, how good is that title? You know, its like my friend Dorothy said, “lions, tigers and bears oh my!” Get it?! I am always proud when I can be creative even in my titles! OK, onto the serious business and advice.
Do Teens Need Babysitters? (this was my alternate title)
This is a question I get asked a lot and it is important to think about the role that babysitters, nannies, housekeepers, tutors and coaches play in your kids lives. For the purpose of the article I am going to call these types of people support staff.
I think hiring a support staff for your teens is a great idea for a variety of reasons (even if you might not need extra help).
1. Pretend Your Teen Doesn’t Need Them
By 16, I was a babysitter myself and I hated when my parents hired someone when they went to the movies to ‘watch us.’ For the reasons below, I explain why support staff can be great, but first you need to make sure your kid does not hate you for bringing them over. Always tell teens and kids that the babysitter is there for some other reason. Start with:
“I totally trust you, and know you can take care of yourself, so I hired ____ because…
your little sibling needs extra help and I didn’t want you to have to watch them.”
I am doing it as a favor, this girl needs some extra money for college loans, you know how it is.”
I am expecting a few important phone calls and want he/she to be here to get them and don’t want to bother you with it.”
I need he/she to watch the house/plants/dogs/neighbors yard.”
he/she is also going to show you some really cool things online/tricks to study/ how to get your homework done quicker.”
Really, anything other than “You need to be watched.”
3. They Can Be Teachers
Notice how I said above “show you how to get homework done quicker, tricks to study.” I always say this instead of “time management, study skills and organization”–but that is basically what it is. I think support staff, whether they are babysitters, tutors, coaches or nannies always have something to offer whether it is Spanish lessons, organizational habits or how to use the Internet safely.
4. They Can Be Mentors
I think all teenagers need someone in their lives (other than you) who they can go to if they need help or advice. I know I have talked about this before, but the role model figures I had in High School were my dance teacher and a babysitter. I so admired them and they taught me things I never would have listened to my parents about like how to take care of my body, how to stand my ground with boys and even how to dress. My parents told me all of these things, but I never listened because I felt they were so far from my own reality. Yet, these support staff members were closer in age (and in my mind, much, much cooler).
5. They Can Be Your Back-Up
Lets be honest, we hear from you and our teachers all the time, so we totally tune you out. When I used to babysit, and even now with my private clients, parents will ask me to gently push one of their points when I am hanging out with their kid. For example:
Mom: “Vanessa, when you are doing study skills with Erin today, would you mind also talking to her about procrastination and even though it is ok now, it doesn’t work later?”
<In Erin’s bedroom looking at her backpack and study materials, talking about bad teachers>
Vanessa: “ugh, you know once I had this horrible history teacher, she was so unfair, anyway she assigned tons of homework and it was never that hard so I waited to do it until the night before–you know that is how it stays really fresh in your mind…”
Erin: “Oh ya me too, I do that too!”
Vanessa: “Ya, well this time it got me in big trouble because….”
This way it feels more relatable and not so nerdy to stop procrastinating. Parents can use support staff to portray a lot of ideas that kids normally tune out.
6. Do Your Research
With the recent stories of nannies in the news about bad nannies getting caught on tape, parents have to be extra careful!
For nannies, my parents used and I always really liked Nannies4Hire. I think they do really good research and background checks which is really important!
For babysitters, I really like SitterCity.com. I researched a lot of sites for this article and I think these two are the best.