Parents, Please Tell Your Babysitting Teens to Clean Up Their Act

How many times have you come home after a fun, relaxing date night to find a dirty dining table and the sink full of dishes? Mac n’ cheese still stuck to the pot on the stove? Toys littering the living room? Or worst of all, the kids still awake??

When I used to babysit at the ripe old age of 12, I would always clean up after the kids were in bed. My mom advised me, always leave the home cleaner than when you arrived.

I have not seen this mentality among our babysitters. They are competent, engaged and loving to our kids, but they seem to have ZERO insight into cleanliness. I know safety is first and foremost, but once the kids are down, I don’t think it’s asking too much to tidy up. When we are gone for five hours, and the kids are asleep for three of them, you can’t tell me you didn’t have 20 minutes to clean up the dishes and toys before you watch TV on the couch.

And right or wrong, I’m blaming their parents.

Yes, you heard me. Moms (and dads), the way your teenage children behave when they are outside of the house reflect the values with which they were raised. So please, I beg of you, teach them how to clean up after themselves. Infuse them with the confidence to do their job well and to take pride in their hard work. And I promise you if I come home from date night a little tipsy and I see a clean kitchen and living room, you better believe I’m leaving a big tip.

Here’s a list of tasks that your babysitting teen should know is EXPECTED from them as part of the job once the kids are asleep (and makes us much more likely to round their pay UP at the end of the night):

  1. Clean up the dinner dishes. If they don’t feel comfortable putting dishes in the dishwasher, at LEAST leave it in the sink, preferably rinsed out. Clean and dry the pots and pans that were used.
  2. Wipe down the counters and the dining table.
  3. Put refrigerated items back in the refrigerator (I feel absolutely ridiculous having to put this in writing but we have come home to milk and ice cream left out on the table. Le sigh.)
  4. Do a quick sweep through the playroom or living area where the kids played. If you don’t know where the toys go, at least pick them up and pile them neatly out of the way.
  5. Clean up towels, toothbrushes and the bathroom counter. Nothing major, just don’t leave wet towels on the floor.
  6. Put the kids to sleep close to their bedtime. A little leeway is expected, but there’s nothing worse than coming home to kids wide awake late at night. It totally kills the vibe from the night out, because we know this means our children will be monsters in the morning.
  7. If they aren’t sure what’s expected, just ask. We are entrusting your child to take care of our kids, and we want them to feel comfortable asking questions or raising concerns. Having open communication with the parents is key.

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(This post originally published on Mid-Peninsula Mom’s Blog on February 7, 2018)

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