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Babysitting Guide

Should Babysitters Clean? (How to Set Parent Expectations)

Babysitter cleaning

15 Jun 2024

 Matthew James Taylor

Written & Illustrated by
Matthew James Taylor

 Renee Irving Lee, B.Ed.

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

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The issue of cleaning can be tricky. Some parents expect the house to be cleaner than when they left it. Others couldn’t care less. Setting expectations on both sides are really important.

Should babysitters clean? Babysitters are hired to take care of the children they’re responsible for. Cleaning is a part of doing a good job. A good babysitter will tidy up any messes that were made while caring for the children.

When you’re playing games or doing a craft, there will be a mess afterward. The babysitter is responsible for cleaning it up. When you give the children snacks or meals, there will be dishes that are dirty and food that fell on the floor. Cleaning up the mess that is created during your paid time babysitting is part of your job description.

How Much Should Babysitters Clean?

There is a big difference between having a dual role as a house cleaner and babysitter versus simply working as a babysitter. Some babysitters have agreed ahead of time to do both. The details were discussed and the pay was increased accordingly.

If you were hired as a babysitter only, your job description would not include cleaning the house or cleaning messes from the parents or child that happened when you were not there. It would include cleaning up messes that were created while you were on the job.

It’s best to discuss in detail the parent’s expectation of cleaning and what you are willing to do. It’s true that some parents want their babysitter to act as a cleaner/babysitter while paying a babysitter rate. Other parents would be thrilled if the babysitter just cleaned up the messes created while she was working.

Many babysitters feel that they’re there to watch the children - no more, no less. If the exact details of the job are not talked about, there can be problems. The parents might even fire the babysitter or the babysitter might quit out of frustration.

What do Parents Expect from Babysitters?

Parents want babysitters to keep their child safe, happy, engaged, and well-fed. This involves being responsible and making good choices. You would make sure that the child is not leaping off countertops or running around the house with a sharpened pencil.

Children are unique and so are their interests. Common fun activities like going to the park, doing crafts, baking, swimming, going on a field trip, playing with play-doh, painting, puzzles, and pretend play are typically big hits.

Many children could be happy watching TV for hours but most parents would not be ok with this. Creating fun things to do that are engaging takes some effort, but it’s what parents want.

Parents love babysitters who are energetic and fun. They would be thrilled with you if you regularly do these kinds of fun activities with their child. These activities, however, require more cleaning afterwards.

If after doing an awesome craft, you left the glue, glitter, and pieces of paper all over, the Mom and Dad will not be impressed! Or if after a big session of pretend play you didn’t clean up all the play clothes and jewelry, don’t expect the parents to be overly appreciative of your work for the day.

One of the biggest complaints among Moms is coming home to a filthy kitchen, courtesy of the babysitter. Leaving the house a mess can really overshadow all the great things that you did that day.

What Do Babysitters Feel That They’re Hired to Do?

Many babysitters choose to babysit because they love children. They love playing with them and getting messy with them. The freedom of the job is nice, too. Often you get to truly enjoy the beautiful day by going to the park with the children. You might feel that you were hired as a caregiver not as a cleaner.

You certainly do not want to clean up a mess left from the day before. You might even feel that cleaning up dirty dishes that you created should be left for the parents. After all, doing dishes and cleaning up after your crafts takes time away from the child. This can be especially true if you have a very energetic child.

Honestly, a lot of parents would be able to relate to that. Many new stay-at-home Moms can remember being home with their baby and hardly having time to brush their teeth or shower until the dad gets home. It takes some time to learn how to multi-task.

So it’s important to really understand your role as a babysitter. It’s good to know what the parents expect and what is considered work outside of a babysitter’s job description.

What Is Considered Work Outside of a Babysitter’s Job Description?

What if the parents are asking you to do more? What if, when you arrive Monday morning, the sink is full of dishes from the weekend? Or before running out of the house, they ask you to throw a load of laundry in the washer machine?

If you are comfortable with doing these extra things, then feel free to do them. But these things are not what babysitters are typically expected to do. Your main concern is caring for that child and not adding to the mess. You are not there to be a house cleaner. So how can something be worked out so that everyone is happy?

How Can Both Parents and Babysitter Agree?

Parents should really consider what they want your focus to be. Should it be primarily on the children or the house? It is a real challenge to be expected to clean a house and actively care for a child. Either the house will look amazing and the child will be expected to do more solitary activities or the child will be well stimulated and the house will be cleanish.

You as the babysitter should think about what you are willing to do. Some babysitters are fine with doing some light housekeeping, others are not. Although the realistic expectation is for babysitters to clean messes that they or the child made during the day. Extra cleaning should be discussed separately.

What has helped many families and babysitters reach a win-win decision is by clearly talking about the expectations before they’re hired. This way both have an opportunity to share any concerns and avoid resentment.

How Much Extra Should They Be Paid?

Babysitters usually get paid a bit more than housekeepers per hour. Babysitters in the USA get paid on average around $17.29 an hour. Housekeepers get paid on average around 4 dollars less per hour. Of course, this all depends on where you live, your experience and credentials.

There is no specified number to expect if you are doing both babysitting and house cleaning but asking for a few dollars more is pretty normal. If they hired two people, a babysitter and cleaner, it would cost them $30/hour. So it would be a deal to get you for less, even if you’re not able to accomplish as much work as two people.

If both the parents and the sitter discuss what’s expected, there will be way fewer problems. If the parents want you to do more cleaning or housework than what’s typical, you should be given more money. Open communication ahead of time will get rid of any misunderstandings. Then you can really enjoy your job as a babysitter.

Read our babysitting rate guide and see how to negotiate your babysitting pay to learn how cleaning duties can get you a little extra money.

Related Questions

Are there set rules for babysitter etiquette?

Babysitter etiquette has some unspoken rules that should be followed by both parents and babysitter. For example, parents should follow these rules:

  • Be clear about expectations
  • Pay the sitter based on experience and credentials
  • Give notice if they’re canceling
  • Try not to be late
  • Notify the babysitter before she arrives if your child is sick

Babysitters should follow these rules:

  • Come to work on time
  • Offer a replacement if you have to cancel
  • Clean up the messes that you and the child make
  • Be clear about what additional duties you are willing to perform
  • No sleeping on the job (with one clear exception)

What qualities do parents look for in a babysitter?

Here are some common qualities that parents look for in a babysitter:

  • Responsible
  • Experienced
  • Fun and Energetic
  • Creative
  • Loves children

Many parents often look for sitters with specific credentials, see our article: 24 Babysitting qualifications to learn which ones may be right for you.

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