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Babysitting Guide

How to Babysit when the Parents are Home (3 Steps to Success)

How to Babysit when the Parents are Home

7 May 2024

 Matthew James Taylor

Written & Illustrated by
Matthew James Taylor

 Lydia Kutz

Babysitting video by
Lydia Kutz

 Renee Irving Lee, B.Ed.

Reviewed & Edited by
Renee Irving Lee, B.Ed.

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Do you have a babysitting job where one or both parents work from home? Are the children well-behaved when you’re alone with them, but now, you struggle to get them to listen to you?

This article can help.

So how can you babysit when the parents are home? To babysit successfully when the parents are home, you need to (1) communicate well with the parents, (2) set boundaries with the children, and (3) establish who’s in charge. This will help to keep the children in line, as well as set the expectations between you and the parents.

Let’s go over some tips that will help you become a successful babysitter when the parents are at home and then cover the three steps in detail.

Lydia Kuts is a babysitting business owner in Florida, USA with many years of experience caring for children, in this video she gives her top tips on how to babysit while the parents are home

Why it’s Challenging to Babysit When the Parents are Home

When a babysitter has to care for children in the parent’s presence, it's super important to establish who's in charge and to set boundaries.

Parents might think that they’re helping when they step in and handle a behavior issue or give permission for something but it often doesn't help.

Children can be confused as to which adult they should go to. With so many adults in the house, who really makes the rules?

And it may leave you feeling disrespected or that your presence is not needed. The parents did in fact interview and hire you. They obviously trusted you with their children, but now it would seem that they don’t.

Lydia Kuts explains that from her experience "Kids naturally gravitate towards their parents or whoever is caring for them rather than a babysitter" and this is where things can come unstuck.

The idea of their parents working from home could also be a foreign concept. The kids might need help understanding that when the parents are interrupted they can’t work. It can be a frustrating experience for all involved if these three things are not dealt with.

How to Babysit When the Parents Are Home

Let’s talk about the three steps to follow to successfully babysit for a family who works from home.

1. Ensure Good Communication

Good communication with both parents before you start working for them will increase your chances of success. You should tell them your expectations and why they’re important to you. For example, most babysitters want to be the ones who will be in charge of disciplining and making decisions. This would be the same as if you were alone with the children.

What almost always happens when the parents are home is that the children will go to the parents to ask for permission for things. They may even start off by asking you but if the answer is not what they want they might decide to go to Mom or Dad.

One way to approach the subject with the parents is by sharing your concerns. For example, you could say, “When you work from home I have found it to work best if nothing really changes. I would still like to take the lead with their schedule. If any problems come up, I would like to handle those too. When the children see that everything is still the same, they won’t be tempted to go to Mom or Dad. They might not listen to me at all when you are home. This would make it hard to care for the kids.”

I would ask the parents how they feel. Most parents are likely to feel the same way, as after all, they have work to do and don’t need the constant interruptions! Once an agreement is worked out, both the parents and you should inform the children and stick to the plan.

2. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries with the children when their parents are home is necessary. The parents need to be in on this conversation as well. The kids should know that when the parents are home they are working. They can’t be interrupted.

The parents might like to join you guys for snack time or go to the park with you. It all depends on what works best for all involved. For most children under 3, seeing their parents for short periods of time might not be a good idea. They might cry and fuss all over again. Or alternatively, it might be something everyone looks forward to. It will all depend on the children.

The bottom line is that you need to discuss what the boundaries will be with the parents and talk to the kids about it.

3. Establish Authority

Establishing who’s the boss when the parents work from home is crucial to a smooth-running operation. You can’t have too many cooks in a kitchen without problems creeping up.

Children need rules in order to thrive. When the parents are home when you are babysitting, it will be confusing as to who to go to when something is needed. Again, I would talk to the parents and suggest that when they are home that you would like to be responsible for the kids.

This would make it easier for the parents to focus on work. The children wouldn’t be tempted to interrupt the parents with questions that you can handle. You’ll be way better off when parents have the policy of: “When ‘The Babysitter’ is here, they are in charge.”

It would be nice if after all this wonderful open communication, a decision is made that leaves both the parents and babysitter happy. But what if it doesn’t? What if the parents don’t want you to be in charge when they’re around? Or what if they say they do, but when they are home they’re constantly interfering?

Here are a few suggestions that will reduce the not-so-good effects of Mom and Dad interfering:

  • Lydia suggests to "Try to get as far away from the working parent or adult as you can" to avoid any interference. Plan a field trip, go swimming, to the park, on a play date, etc. This will take away the temptation to seek out Mom and Dad. Plus, this will be loads of fun!
  • Organize a super fun and involved project at home. There are some crafts that literally take hours to complete. For instance, paper mache, a baking project, an experiment of some sort. Just don’t blow anything up.
  • If babysitting, while the parents are home, is too challenging for you it might be time to move on. Look for babysitting jobs where both you and the parents see eye to eye.

Babysitting children while their parents are home has its potential challenges. But if you have good communication with the parents, set boundaries with the children, and agree on who’s boss when all are present, it will likely work out well. Keep in mind, though that it doesn’t always work out for the best. Be ready to move on if you find that it’s not going so great. You might be a better fit for another family.


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