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There are times when, despite your best efforts, a babysitter just isn't right for you and your family. But breaking up with a caregiver can be as difficult as leaving a high school sweetheart. Check out our handbook for handing back the varsity jacket with class.
Talk isn't cheap
Avoid miscommunications from the get-go, and you may never have to fire your sitter at all. If you've forbidden watching TV and it's clear from your kids' zombie expressions that they've tuned in to hours of Wallace and Gromit, address this immediately with your sitter. Waiting even one day may lead your sitter to think what he or she is doing is okay.
Set up monthly meetings to keep lines of communication open. They needn't be long; five minutes before or after a job is enough to check in and assess any potential issues. Having trouble addressing a difficult point with your sitter? Take a bite out of the compliment sandwich. Point out something that he's done well '- "Emma's reading so much better since you started working with her" '- before bringing up your main concern.
When you bring a sitter into your house, let her know about the "can't break" rules that will govern her time in your home. Rules change from family to family, but generally sitters should be respectful of your home and responsible with your children. Lay out these rules from the beginning, so your babysitter has no excuse if she steps over the line.
Families who "let go" of sitters often witness the following warning signs in their children: bruises from rough play, nightmares, mood swings and resistance to being left with the babysitter. These signs may indicate your sitter is being negligent. Similarly, sitters who excessively watch television or chat on the phone, let kids play alone or bring friends to jobs with them '- without your prior consent '- are showing a disrespect of your house.