My daughters just finished a really wonderful babysitting “unit” in their Achievement Days group.
The unit was called “The Babysitters Club” and the girls spent a handful of hours learning about babysitting, discussing scenarios that may occur during babysitting; how to deal with them, and then they got to put their knowledge to the test. The girls found children to babysit, made a schedule with the parents, put together a babysitting bag and were then required to follow through with a phone call for confirmation of the arrangement.
As I listened to my girls make their phone calls to the parents of the children they would be in charge of caring for, I realized that telephone etiquette is going by the wayside. It seems that everyone has their own phone these days and so children are not taught the telephone “niceties” that so many of us “old folks” were. I’m just as guilty of this as the next person. We don’t have a home telephone, and since my cell phone is usually near me, there are rarely instances where my children answer the phone. In fact, I don’t allow them to answer the phone unless it’s a close family member where the conversation is casual. They literally don’t have the opportunity to practice telephone skills, and it shows.
As the girls stuttered and um’d their way through the conversation (it was scripted with specific points to be made/discussed) it became clear to me that I haven’t done my job as a responsible parent to teach them the proper way to address others on the telephone. I’m working on rectifying the situation, and while I’m at it, I’ve been thinking about babysitters’ these days and how even that has changed.
When I was a babysitter, I spent my time watching the children, but also cleaning. If I fed the children a meal, I always cleaned it up and did the dishes. If the carpet needed vacuuming, whether or not the mess was made on my watch, I vacuumed. If the bathroom needed scrubbing, I did that, too. I thought it was part of the job. Speaking for my experience alone, it seems like kids now-a-days are not taught to even do the basic household chore. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve returned home after a date out and found the paper plates (for ease of clean up for the babysitter) with the half eaten food that I prepared before I left STILL on the kitchen table. With crumbs on my living room floor (food is not even allowed in my living room) and the house in an overall disarray.
Now, if I had left my house in disarray, I wouldn’t feel annoyed to return home to find it in the same condition, but I DO get annoyed when I leave and come home to a mess. Because of my experience with babysitters that have not always lived up to my expectations, I was super glad to hear that my girls were taught that babysitting IS a job and there are certain things that are required of them. I have to thank their teacher for the time and effort she put into teaching them the basics, and sending them home with resources that will help them when they start babysitting.
Aren’t these resources great?
Now, I need your input. What are your thoughts?
- Do parents need to teach their children polite telephone etiquette?
- Do you expect babysitters to clean up the messes that are made while they are babysitting?