(Mis)Adventures in Babysitting

When I joined Care.com the summer after my freshman year of college, I had no idea what a huge part of my life I would be devoting to childcare. At first, babysitting seemed like an easy side-gig, a great source of extra income to bolster my online shopping addiction and pension for eating off-campus. Pretty soon, however, I developed relationships with regular families, and began spending every weekend watching children as young as three months old. As much as I absolutely love children, it certainly hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. It’s spooky season, so let’s dive in to a list of some of the biggest disasters I’ve had to deal with while on the clock. (P.S. there are definitely more than just these).

 

  1. Doggy Disaster

To make myself competitive on the babysitting market, I designated myself as a pet-friendly sitter. Of course, this is true. I love animals, but sometimes parents don’t exactly warn the sitter of their fur baby’s needs and quirks as they should. Recently, I was babysitting four children under eight years old, running around a two-story house to try to get them to sleep. Just as I put the oldest boy down, one of the family’s identical yellow labs shuffled into the room. Without warning, the elderly dog started gagging. The boy and I watched in horror as his dog puked not once, not twice, but three times on the beige carpet. The smell was absolutely foul, so there was no chance the little boy, only six, would sleep in his room. After I set him up on a pull-out couch downstairs, I spent a good half-hour scooping the dog puke and scrubbing the carpets clean, all the while using my t-shirt as a built-in gasmask. Not pleasant.

2. Workplace Injury

Nap time is typically my favorite time of the day because I can get some rest from Bubble Guppies and Playdoh art. Before I can relax, however, I have to make sure the baby goes down with a clean diaper. One day, just before I put a two-year-old girl down for her nap, I noticed that her mother had moved the diaper stash from it’s usual spot. Frustrated, I searched the house, running around in my socks as I rifled through every obvious storage spot. Upstairs, I put the baby in her crib and texted her mother to ask where she’d put the diapers. When I got my reply, I hurriedly bounded down the carpeted stairs, only to slip on one of the uppermost steps and slide down on my back the rest of the way. Most of the impact of my fall landed on my upper spine and neck, which were sore until two days after the clumsy incident. I remember letting out an involuntary “oomph” sound, and painfully lifting myself off the staircase to see that the baby’s older sister had witnessed my embarrassing fall from the top of the stairs. That one hurt.

 

3. Potty Training Mishaps

Being a babysitter means dealing with the bodily functions of children, plain and simple. On several occasions, I’ve screwed up when it comes to making sure potting training kids regularly go to the bathroom. More than once, for instance, I have woken up beside a four-year-old (who insists I sleep with her during nap time, not complaining), to realize that I forgot to put pull-ups on her. Inevitably, I pay for my mistakes by washing soiled sheets and wet underwear. Once, a little boy who hadn’t before every peed his pants while I watched him, wet himself three times over the course of one night. Things like this just happen, so if you want to make some “easy cash” just know what you’re getting into. Don’t even get me started on having to wipe for little ones.

4. Locked Out

This last story is one of the most embarrassing. To cut to the chase, I was babysitting my boyfriend’s little nephew one day last fall, and we had ventured outside to play some football in his front yard. We ended up spending about an hour outside together, pretending we were players in the Superbowl. Around lunchtime, we decided to head inside. When I tried to open the front door, though, it was locked. Even though I’d been to his house a few times, I had no idea that the front door locked automatically when it shut. Rather than panic, the little boy and I checked all the windows and the back door. All of the possible entryways were locked, but luckily enough I did have my cell phone on me. I didn’t want to call his mom, who was working at the hospital, so instead I called my boyfriend and his mom for help. The little boy and I stayed outside for another hour or so, hungry and cold, waiting for someone to unlock the door. Although the boy took the whole disaster in stride, I was still completely embarrassed that I’d managed to screw up so badly. I hoped his mom, my boyfriend’s oldest sister, wouldn’t be too upset with me. Eventually, my boyfriend came to unlock the door with his mom’s spare key and we celebrated our rescue with some pizza. It could’ve been worse, ya know?