Being a nanny for young kids and toddlers can be a stressful test of your nanny supervision. Little ones who tend to wander can unnerve even the most watchful eye. Being a NYC nanny doubles this stress load when traveling on the subway with kids.
If you’re tasked with bringing your kiddo to or from school or after-school activities in the city, chances are you’re among the crowds at some of the peak travel times. Making sure that your charge are safe and in-sight, without resorting to authoritarian tactics, can be a challenge. Here are some tips for travelling on the subway with kids, that will make your journey fun rather than fearful!
If you’re tasked with a little one who tends to wander, it can be scary traveling on busy streets or crowded subways. Holding hands is the best way to make sure you stay together. If your kid is a resistant hand-holder, however, this can be a challenge. If your kiddo is resistant to holding hands, try making it fun for him or her! Place a small ball or toy in between your hands and tell them that you have to keep it safe until the end of the trip! Use a rubber ball or something squishy and they’ll have even more fun giving your hand the occasional squeeze as you travel.
Make it fun!
Whether you’re taking the bus or the subway, space can get tight and this be overwhelming for little children. Long or crowded journeys can make a kid restless or overwhelmed. However, introducing a travel game or activity is a great solution for traveling on the subway with kids. A simple game of I-Spy can last the entire journey, with endless details to catch their attention. Or make a number game, counting down to your stop (ie. Three stops to go! What else comes in threes?).
Teach Safety Tips!
Most importantly, make sure you are teaching your kids about ways to move safely and how to be aware of their surroundings before you even start your journey! Explain to them that traveling on the subway is a screen-free time, because you need to keep your eyes and ears open. If you are wearing a red scarf, point it out to them, and tell them that it is the marker if you get separated. Remind them several times of where you are going and how you are going to get there. Tell them the specific trains you will take, and even repeat their street name or the name of your destination and eventually they’ll remember it themselves!
Have your own tips for travelling on the subway with kids? Share them with us in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
For a parent of a child with even a mild food allergy, it can be extremely daunting to leave your child with a new person, one who may slip and forget what snacks have hidden ingredients, or to double check with the kitchen staff at a new restaurant. For your peace of mind, here are some great tips to help ensure that you and your nanny are on the same page when it comes to how to feed your children.
Create a Work Agreement
Here at Kith & Kin, we're huge believers in work agreements! Putting details in writing allows both parents and nannies much greater peace of mind, so that uncertainties and misunderstandings don't arise down the road and all expectations are clear.
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, or if you just want to make sure your nanny is preparing a similar diet to what you already have in place for your child, putting the details in a contract can be extremely helpful. If there are certain food items or ingredients that your child must not eat, then lay those out in writing. If you only let your child have a sweet snack on certain special occasions, explain this in the contract.
While this might seem overbearing, remember that your nanny is not a mind-reader, and it always helps to have something to refer back to! Every family is a little different, and the way you approach your child's diet will not necessarily be the same as the family they have worked with before. Laying out all the specifics for your child's diet, will help avoid uncertainty for your nanny. Be sure to give your nanny a copy of the contract, and/or put it up somewhere in the kitchen where they can use it for reference if ever they have a question.
Give your Nanny a Sample Menu
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, you might have learned to prepare specific dishes in order to avoid certain ingredients. You also will be aware of which prepared foods have hidden ingredients that could be dangerous for your child's food allergy.
In order to ease your nanny into the food norms of your family, write out a sample menu for a week or two, and give it to them to refer or add to. Include the dishes that your child is used to, and you would normally prepare for them, along with ingredients and instructions for your nanny.
Providing a menu for the first few weeks will ease your nanny into your lifestyle and food preferences, and get them acquainted with the types of dishes and ingredients your child is used to. Eventually, these dishes and ingredients will become second nature to your nanny. Include suggestions for snacks and prepared foods that are OK with you. Also include a detailed list of foods and snacks that are not okay to feed your child with a food allergy.
Avoid Eating Out
The experience of eating a meal out a restaurant can be so stressful and tedious. Even the most well-meaning kitchen staff might not be aware of every ingredient in their dishes. While it can be easy for a nanny to grab a quick lunch in the middle of their day out with your child, if you are the parent of a child with a food allergy you know that sometimes it's best to avoid eating out all-together.
Explain this to your nanny, and make sure you always have meals or ingredients to prepare a quick and easy meal for your child on hand. If you know for certain of specific restaurants or dishes that are safe for your child to eat, write out a list of those and include it in your nanny's work agreement. After all, when it comes to having a child with a food allergy, you can't be too specific with your requests or requirements.
Post Emergency Information
Before the first day of work, make sure your child's nanny knows the specific protocol should they have an allergic reaction. Write down for your nanny the specific instructions that they should follow if your child shows signs of a reaction (and even talk about what those signs are).
If your child needs to be administered an epileptic-pen, make sure your nanny always carries one on their person and knows exactly how to use it - The Red Cross has special trainings for this, and it's prudent to pay for your nanny to attend.
Be sure to write down the contact information for which doctor to call, or which hospital to go to, in the case of an emergency, and have a copy of this in their diaper bag, backpack, and stored in a Note on your nanny's phone - anywhere that is easily accessible.
As with any case of a child with a special need or care, the most important piece of advice is to be, and constantly remain, as prepared as possible, while also preparing others in case Plan A falls through. By following these tips and strategies, your nanny will be ready and knowledgeable about what is safe and what is not. When in doubt, your nanny can pass on an item and substitute it for something else. If you have time to prepare your child's food, do. If not, provide your nanny with clear instructions on what to prepare for your child's meals. Leave many ready-to-go snacks for your nanny to give your child, if they're out for the day.
All of these tips will help set you up for success and ensure there are no misunderstandings or missteps in the event of an allergic reaction!
If you are the parent of a child with a food allergy, do you have any tips or advice of your own? Do you have any advice on how to get your new nanny on board with your family's dietary routine? Let us know in the comments section below!
- KITH & KIN
Please note: this blogpost covers domestic employees in New York State. It is intended to educate nannies and housekeepers on the benefits of accepting legally paid salaries; it is not to replace the advice of a lawyer, as the laws that are constantly changing. Please consult a reputable payroll company such as HomeWork Solutions for more information on your specific state's domestic employment laws and procedures.
We here at KITH & KIN often hear candidates state that they only want to be paid in cash, despite being able to accept legal pay, for many understandable reasons. While admittedly, it is the norm for many domestic workers to be paid illegally in cash (an estimated 75%!), there are a myriad of benefits and protections household employees lose out on by being paid in cash, and when accepting cash only for a nanny job, you are also assuming all risks for you and your family's future financial and health situation, especially should you find yourself out of work for a period of time -- a heavy and costly burden to bear!
With the advent of laws like Lulu and Leo's Law and many advocacy groups like the NDWA calling for better protections for both families and workers, the trend will be for more and more domestic workers to be paid in a legal manner. For this reason, we have compiled the benefits of legal pay. Here are our top 10 reasons why nannies and housekeepers should insist on being paid "on the books" right now.
1. "Professional pay" translates to "professional treatment", and further legitimizes your work as a professional career.
When you insist on being paid legally, this demonstrates to a family that you take your job seriously as a professional who needs to be compensated fairly and legally for your work. It shows that you are committed to your work supporting them, and that you are also relying on them to support you as you make a long-term living, just as you would in any other field.
When your employer agrees to pay legally, they are demonstrating their belief that you deserve legal protections and benefits, just as they receive in their work, too! Even though they may be offering a lot of great benefits like guaranteed minimum hours and paid time-off, they also believe that ethically, you deserve an extra level of protection as individual and professional.
2. You have secure income available, even if laid off.
Let’s say that on Sunday night, you get a text from your boss that tomorrow, you are no longer needed because a spot opened at daycare, and their child starts the next morning. Now, most parents would not leave you high and dry without notice, (especially if you have a solid work agreement in place before the job commences!), however you may never know your employer's private financial situation or debts. They may appear to have it all, and then the economy crashes overnight, or they find out they have lost every penny to a Ponzi scheme, and now they find themselves unable to pay you the $2500 buffer you were relying on. Stranger things have happened; you need to be protected from situations that are outside of your control.
While domestic employees in New York are hired “at-will”, meaning you may be terminated without notice or reason at any time, unemployment is there to provide you with a financial buffer while you search for a new job. If you’re laid off due to no fault of your own, and you are able to work in some industry, you are eligible - even in some instances of justifiable firing, you may still be eligible. This is only available to people who are paid legally in their most recent long-term position.
3. Medical costs or loss of income covered via Workmans Compensation if you’re injured on the job (State-by-State).
Even if you are outside of NYS, should you have an injury that leads to a long leave from work, you may be eligible to receive Disability coverage from the government as well. This would cover part of your income, and make sure that you are not in an even larger financial bind. If you are out of work because of an injury, but don't have traceable or substantial income reported, the income coverage would be significantly lowered, if available at all.
4. You are eligible for Paid Family-Leave.
The details and benefits will upgrade year to year, but beginning in 2019, you would be eligible for 10 weeks paid leave per year, up to 55% of your weekly salary, with a maximum of roughly $746/week; By 2021, 67% of your salary may be covered for up to 12 weeks. This is separate from FMLA, and is specific to New York State. For more information, click here.
5. Protection in the event you, or your bosses, get audited by the government.
Any employer who chooses to pay their employee 'under the table' runs the risk of being audited, particularly if all parents are working full-time, and they can't prove payments made for childcare. An audit will have their finances called into question by the government, and if your employer is audited, you too may be at risk for your portion of employment taxes. If your employer doesn't remit taxes on your behalf, you may be asked to account for those taxes by the government. While it is not the law that the employers withhold your portion of taxes in New York for you (you must request that they do this, and the majority do when using a payroll service), it is the law that you pay your portion. If it is not withheld, we recommend setting aside a conservative percentage based on your state in a separate savings account so you have enough to pay at the end of the year.
If you or your employers were to be audited, the government makes a habit of looking back several years, meaning you could be set up on a hefty payment plan to hand over whatever amount you would have owed in taxes from previous years.
6. Provides verifiable, traceable income to rent or buy a home, car or other big-ticket purchases.
Should the day come when you want to make a big "life-investment", be it purchasing a new home or car, or even renting a new apartment, you will often be required to provide proof of income; not just for present time, but also from the past two years! Lenders want to make sure you are a consistent earner and responsible spender, and you will need a paper trail to prove your track-record of financial credibility. Cash-employees will often have a difficult (likely impossible) time providing legitimate proof of income that would hold up to scrutiny. This can be a real hold-up, and potential block, if you are in the throes of purchasing a home.
Not buying a car, home, or renting an apartment now? Think two or three years ahead. Even if your credit is terrible, First Time Homebuyer Loans make this dream possible for more people, so as home prices continue to rise, now is a great time to get on the books and start accepting legal pay!
7. Easier mental leap to start your career with legal pay now, rather than years in.
Take it from us, the people who interview many qualified, career candidates who have been paid cash for years: it is very challenging for nannies and housekeeper to leap from a high dollar cash take-home salary per week to a far lower net wage. When you are not used to this, it will require a large lifestyle adjustment for yourself and family, when that time comes.
Talking to your employer about transitioning from a cash-salary, to an "on the books" salary is going to take a big shift. Essentially your employer will have to make a drastic increase in your pre-taxed (gross) pay-rate in order for you to be taking home the same amount as you were before, and it's possible that financially, they simply cannot swing it, as they will be paying 12-25% more than they are used to, depending on where you live.
If your employer isn't able to increase your rate enough for you to be taking home a net-salary that is comparable to your cash salary, meet in the middle! Start by taking a lower take-home wage, knowing that they are giving you a gross-wage raise. That being said, employees who are paid on the books, will also be eligible for a tax-return at the end of the fiscal year where you would get a portion of that back, so don't be too demanding of your employers if you really love your job in all other aspects.
8. You’re building your Social Security fund, and making sure you’re eligible for disability benefits, too.
The amount of taxable income which you report to the government each year makes up your 'covered income' and directly affects the amount of money you may receive each month when you retire. In other words, if you pay in for 45 years instead of 10, you will have far more to retire on. Therefore, for your future, it's better to start paying income taxes sooner rather than later!
9. Helps better protect you from “bad-apple” bosses.
Finding a boss who is willing to pay you on-the-books, means that your boss is more likely to view you as an employee with certain inalienable rights. A working agreement that is based on a clear contract and a taxed salary can protect you from various instances of employee discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment in the workplace, withholding of overtime, and various other workplace injustices.
Many employers who pay cash may hesitate to put anything in writing to avoid a paper trail of employment in the event they were to be audited -- this translates to no work agreement for you or contract for you to fall back on or reference.
10. Plainly, it’s the right thing to do!
Last of all, paying your taxes is the right thing to do! The money you pay in taxes goes to many places. In addition to paying the salaries of government workers, your tax dollars also help to support common resources that we all utilize, such as safe and well-maintained roads, police and fire departments, post-offices, public libraries and parks, as well as caring for your fellow neighbors and children who presently may not be able to care for themselves.
In conclusion, starting a job with mutual professional respect is the best foot to start on. By you and your employer insisting to operate according to the law affirms that this is a true, professional career, with the commitment to integrity and respect toward both parties.
But aren't nannies 1099 workers? On the family/employer side of things, there is sometimes confusion about the classification of domestic employees and who is responsible for their taxes. However, make no mistake: by law, nannies and housekeepers are classified as household employees of the family, unless they are hired through a company who is paying them as an employee; nannies and housekeepers are not contractors. Families must provide you a W-2 at the end of the year.
Have a question about being paid or hiring "on-the-books" versus in cash? Send us an email and we will do our best to direct you to where you may find your answer.
Earlier this summer, New York Senator Andrew Lanza and Assemblyman Steve Otis together announced a new piece of legislature which could have a profound effect on the childcare industry. The bill which they have proposed to Governor Cuomo essentially serves to criminalize the misrepresentation of a caregiver's qualifications or experience. If this bill is passed into law, not only will it provide much more concrete reassurance for parents who are seeking qualified childcare, it will also serve to legitimize the job market for nannies themselves who could have a greater precedent to demand better working rights as domestic employees.
This new passage of legislation will hold legally accountable anyone who is applying for an in-home childcare position, or providing a reference on behalf of the individual being considered. In either instance, an individual who is found to have provided a false written statement in support of oneself, or another person, for purposes of securing employment as a caregiver to children in the home, could now be found guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor and face up to 6 months imprisonment. The bill would target those who make false statements about the applicant’s background related to their ability to safely provide care.
To many, the introduction of such a bill might seem extraneous, something of a given. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. The supplying of false references, and mis-information by nanny candidates is rampant, common practice by applicants who lack actual experience or qualification in the field. For busy parents who do not have the time or resources to conduct thorough background checks and employment verification, these discrepancies fall quietly through the cracks. What is further, however, is that up until this point, there is no legal ramification holding nanny candidates, or fictitious references, accountable for providing false information in pursuit of employment.
Essentially, right now a nanny who you have hired based on false information, cannot be held accountable for misrepresenting their qualifications in a court of law. The consequences of these distortions of the truth become tragic when, as in the epithetic case of Lulu and Leo Krim, parents hire an unqualified and improperly vetted nanny based on false accounts of experience by the candidate and others. It is the Krim parents themselves who have worked tirelessly in the years since the deaths of their two young children to bring this new piece of legislation into reality. The 2012 murder of their children Lulu and Leo Krim at the hands of their caregiver who had no previous experience caring for children highlighted the need for greater scrutiny of those who seek these positions.
Assemblyman Otis, stated, "With this legislation, New York law will be clear that misrepresentation of qualifications for caregivers for children is against the law. With accurate information, the safety of families and children will be safeguarded.” Future parents can rest a little easier, when leaving their child in the hands of a hired caretaker, that the individual is who they say they are, and actually has the experience stated on their resume.
Additionally, this new bill provides that “caregiver” be defined as someone hired to provide fifteen or more hours of care per week in the home of such children or in the home of the caregiver, with the exception of those entities licensed under the social services law. For nannies, the definitional provisions of this new bill could actually be a professional asset. By giving a clear and explicit interpretation to the definition of domestic work, this law could lay a foundation for future legislation regarding caregiver and other in-home roles. Until 2010, when New York became the first state to enact a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, domestic workers existed largely starved of any state-sanctioned workers rights. Even now, the rights for in-home employees are much less comprehensive than for workers of most other sectors. While Lulu and Leo's Law, on the one hand, aims to increase accountability by domestic workers by obliging them to provide factual resumes and references, this increased legitimacy for domestic workers will, in turn, give a greater precedent for these workers to demand certain legal rights from their employers and from the law. Every step to legitimize the scope of domestic work, is a step in the right direction!
Unfamiliar with Lulu and Leo's story? Read up on their organization here.
Are you a nanny here in NYC and wondering how the enactment of Lulu and Leo's law will affect you? Get in touch with us and ask us any questions and we're happy to try and answer them!
Are you ready to redo your professional nanny resume, and make sure its up to par? Check out our previous blog-post on How to Write a Nanny Resume Like a Champ
Last month, our founder, Christa, sat down for a conversation with the founder of the Prenatal Yoga Center, Deb Flashenberg, on her podcast Yoga | Birth | Babies. The episode is called NANNY 101. Shared within it are tips and tricks for hiring and employing a nanny or babysitter, whether temporarily or long-term. It's completely appropriate and helpful for nannies, too!
Have a listen here and catch some helpful gems!
Are you overwhelmed by the thought of how to hire a nanny in NYC?
Have you started the nanny search on your own, but need to run a nanny background check?
We are here to help you.
Send us an email and tell us about your family's needs - we'd love to help you hire a nanny in NYC, or help you vet your own candidates properly!
To safely hire a new nanny (or even an assistant, or housekeeper!) is a serious undertaking, and should be handled with a certain extent of scrutiny and attention to detail. Your new hire will be working intimately in your home and with your children - so it's important to make sure that you have verified peace of mind before you bring someone on.
You may have heard a recent horror story, in which a New York City family returned home to find their new hire had systematically robbed their home of various furniture and possessions while the family were at work and school, after calling in sick and hiring movers to empty the house. While this story is extremely rare, there are lessons to be learned from this, and certain precautions that we would always recommend in order to screen your new nanny or any in-home personnel. While working with our nanny agency, there are certain built-in verification standards to which we hold all of our candidates. However if you are undertaking your search for a new employee on your own...
Here are a few insider tips on how to safely hire a nanny to ensure that your new hire has been properly vetted and can become a trusted role in your home.
1. Validate Candidate's Identity
First, validating identity is essential. We would highly, highly recommend using a legitimate background check company to do this. An identity verification can often still be run with a foreign passport. In the case above, all the IDs provided by the nanny were fake, but this was only realized after the crime was committed. With today's technology, telling a real from a fake ID can be harder than you'd imagine for the untrained eye. Hiring an outside company to assist you with a background verification will ensure peace of mind.
Our nanny agency offers nanny candidate background checks a la carte for clients all the time, as do several other NYC nanny agencies, to best help you safely hire a nanny. Even if you aren't using the agency's services for your recruitment search, they often will still offer background verification as a standalone service, at a relatively inexpensive cost.
2. Verify the References' Personas and Get (a bit!) Nosy
Second, verify references and get in depth with them. Always try a Facebook, Google and LinkedIn search of a reference provided: does absolutely nothing come up? Search their phone number or email into Facebook and Google, and see what name (if anything) corresponds. A fake reference is always a friend or family member of the person themselves, and will likely show up among their Facebook friends. [Though as a note: some high-net worth individuals will not show up in a Google search, so if possible try to get the partner or spouse's name as well when requesting references from the candidate].
When you do get a hold of a reference, take note of the person's tone and cadence. How do they sound? A real reference will state the facts and have specific examples; a fake reference will sound like a salesperson speaking in very general, broad, and overly positive terms.
Also, have your candidate's resume in front of you on the call, and get nosey, as if you know nothing. Ask what the details of the position were, and how old their children are presently (a real parent will know this information automatically without having to quickly do math). Ask what neighborhood they live in and cross reference with the resume. Ask why the position ended and see if it lines up. Not every reference will be open to discussing a ton of details, especially if it ended due to the family's personal matters. We recommend trying to speak to a minimum of 3 people, which will give you a chance to notice any patterns that might emerge.
3. Have a security camera.
Our last bit of advice is to install at least one visible security camera in the apartment or on the outside of your home before you leave your in-home caretaker for the first time. We highly recommend that it is visible so that your employee knows of it's presence. While voice recording is illegal in some states without express two-party consent, a soundless video camera is acceptable. because informing the caregiver about the camera first
Alerting the caregiver to it in advance will build a relationship of openness and trust, and will break any possible tension or hurt they may feel if they had found it on their own. Imagine your partner was spying on you, and what emotions that would bring up. A nanny may similarly feel the same, as this person is, in a way, a partner and co-parent in your family.
Telling your employee upon hire about any cameras you have in your home also allows you the opportunity to put it back on yourself: "We have it for our apartment's security, but also because I just miss my baby in the day!" Most caregivers understand that to many families, safely hiring a nanny means a "nanny-cam;" and they may be completely fine with the presence of a camera if it's not secretive, and because they also know it can protect them in the event they are accused of something. The majority of nannies only really take issue with a camera when it is used to micromanage and critique their practice in real-time.
Are you looking for background verification services to make sure you hire a nanny safely?
Check out our services on our website.
Have any wisdom of your own for how to verify a new nanny hire?
Let us know in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
This is the time of year where nannies are booked frequently for date-night sittings: lots of holiday parties, in-laws in town, and nights out for busy parents! I'd like to share a cautionary tale I read recently, and give you some tips based off of this situation, as well as others we have personally encountered.
Recently in a nanny support group I am apart of, a caregiver had been booked on a popular app by a family to babysit for their family in hotel, as they were coming into New York for the weekend. She offered to talk to them on the phone beforehand to give a mini interview, but they declined and said it was fine - they would provide details when she showed up. She had great reviews, so she assumed they were just trusting the references, which is why the reviews exist in the first place. Exercising safety when babysitting is not just for the parents but for the nannies, too!
When she showed up to the hotel on the evening of the sit, she received a text message that said they were running an hour late. After she waited over an hour, sent a check-in text and gave a phone call, both of which went unanswered. At this point, she checked with the front desk attendants just to make sure they actually had a reservation, but in doing so, she learned that there was no one staying there by the name that was given on the booking. This isn't totally unheard of - some people want their privacy - so she didn't think much of it. However, there other signs that gave her pause, and she ultimately left the hotel after fearing for her safety. These warning signs were what inspired this blog.
Here are our best tips on how to keep safety when babysitting in the forefront of your mind when you've been booked through a babysitting app, instead of a mutual connection or agency.
1. Make verbal contact with the parents before you meet, if possible.
Trust me, I don't like talking on the phone as much as the next person, but sometimes just hearing their voice, their tone and cadence, will reassure you this is a parent and not a creep. Ask them a couple questions about their kids, and ask them if there is any specialized care for their child for which you would be responsible.
For the sitter above who was booked, she thought it was odd that when she would call that day, and over the previous five days before the scheduled day, no one would answer, nor return her call, and there was no formal voicemail. The "family" would only follow up via text. This may not have been a big deal, as she had reviews, and this is common for families to book with minimal effort. Lack of verbal contact before isn't a deal breaker, however coupled with the things below, you can quickly see where there was a problem.
2. Always tell someone close to you before meeting a family for the first time!
Let a friend or family member know the address where you plan to meet and the time you plan to leave by. Keep in touch via text once you arrive to say all is well, and if you are going to be late. Do this even when you are leaving the job to return to your house. Safety when babysitting mostly comes down to covering your bases, and keeping others informed.
3. Look up the names of the parents on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google.
Most parents will have family photos or telltale signs that they are who they say they are. Make sure the story adds up!
The sitter above was caught off guard when no one was reserved in the hotel under the name on her booking. The lack of a voicemail was strike two. They also gave her very common names, so it was impossible to verify who they were via Google.
A way to combat this is to search for them on Google using their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Something is bound to come up to proves they're a real person.
4. Ask one of the parents to come meet you at the door, or in the lobby.
If you are working at a hotel, ask that they come and meet you, if you have any doubts that they are real people in need of babysitting.
If you are working at an apartment in a building with a door attendant, ask the person if the family has children. They may be taken a back by it, but you can explain it is your first time meeting them. If it is a private house and with no door attendant, what do you hear when you come up to the house? Is there laughter? Are there shoes, scooters, or bikes visible outdoors? Is there a large vehicle in the driveway, or a friendly welcome mat?
You can always insist that they meet you halfway in your requests for a personal escort before entering their home - say its a tip for your safety when babysitting that you picked up - no parent will argue with that, and if they are the type to get annoyed or give an attitude, you don't have to work with them again! Your safety when babysitting is just as important as theirs and their children's.
5. Be aware of your surroundings - where are the children?
When you show up, do you hear children laughing, talking, yelling, etc. outside of the room in the hallway, or out in the street? And if not, when the parent opens the door and there are no children present, is there evidence of children in the room, such as children's cups, clothing, shoes, stroller, and toys? If not, do not enter.
Feel no need to be overly polite in this situation - even if your hesitations are wrong and there really is a family (maybe they just checked in and the kids are in the pool), they will absolutely respect you more for being so safety conscious - which will likely lead to you having a better review! Simply say, "I'm sorry, I was told this booking was for x# of children, but I don't see them... Oh, they are downstairs? No problem! I can meet them down there, or just wait out here in the hall or lobby. I insist."
The sitter in the story above was incredibly forward thinking to think about her personal safety when babysitting. The third strike that ultimately lead to her leaving (quickly!) was when she was alert for the entire two hours waiting for them in the lobby to show up (after they kept texting, "10 more minutes"), she noticed no children walking through the lobby and up to the elevator. That, coupled with their unwillingness to escort her up, led her to walk right out. She made the right decision when considering her own safety when babysitting for this new family.
So by now you may be wondering how did the family receive the news that their sitter played hardball and left after they would not call back or come and get her from the lobby... Well, after she texted and explained why she would wait 10 more minutes and if she didn't hear back, she would be leaving after waiting nearly 2.5 hours, they never wrote back to confirm, criticize, or say they understood and respected her reasons.
Had she listened and just went upstairs as they insisted, I'm not sure what, if anything, would have happened to her, though given the high possibility this was not a family, she absolutely did the right thing.
Very few of these tips above are "Deal-breakers," however when they are all coupled together, it can spell trouble. Be aware, and keep yourself safe.
If you have any other safety tips to add below, please do! We can all protect each other.
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