No one ever said babysitting was an easy job. Babysitters and nannies might get paid well, but all the torment that kids (and parents) put them through can sometimes make it not worth it. Long hours, hot tempers, lack of sleep, and unbelievable situations are just a few of things that babysitters have to deal with every day.
The people in the following stories have more than enough experience in this department. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"Not a babysitter, but I worked at a summer camp.
I had a kid (we'll call him Timmy) who had some behavioral issues and he liked to hide. One time he climbed all the way into a trash can, with garbage in it, for no reason. I tried to work with him on his behavior issues.
One day, we took a field trip. Partway through, took the kids over for a bathroom break. After they were done, I counted, and realized I was one short.
Me: 'Hmm, I wonder who it is? Oh no...it's Timmy! Kids, has anyone seen Timmy?'
Other kid: (nonchalantly) 'Oh, he's over there, in a locker.'
Me: 'What do you mean... he's in a locker?'
Museums sometimes have these small lockers you can rent for like 50 cents. They're big enough for maybe a jacket or two, so you can leave your coat, or a lunch in there. I estimate this one was about 15x15x36 inches.
Timmy had gone full-on contortionist, and managed to squeeze himself into this locker. It took me a second to realize where his head was even at. I had to pull him out, because he got stuck.
That was the day I went from 'trying to help Timmy manage his problems' to 'keep Timmy alive for the summer.'"
"There were two little girls (maybe 9 and 5) that lived down the street from us who we played with all the time. Their mom asked my sister to babysit over the summer since she just turned 13. Each time my sister went over there, she would keep them occupied by playing with their dolls and putting Disney movies on.
One day, my sister found the sequel to 'The Little Mermaid' in their stash of movies. She had never seen it and wanted to watch it, but the kids didn't. So my sister said, 'Ok, well you guys can play with your dolls (upstairs) while I'm watching the movie (in the finished basement) and let me know when you're hungry for lunch.' They became suspicious because after all, 'What teenager still watches Disney movies?' They decided that she must be a witch, locked her in the basement, and frantically called their mom at work.
The 9-year-old: "The babysitter is a witch! You have to come home! We have her trapped in the basement! She's going to kill us! She's a witch!'
Mom: 'WHAT?! Unlock the basement!'
The 9-year-old (crying now): 'No, she's a witch! You have to come home!'
Mom: 'Ok, I'm coming home, but you have to let her out of the basement until I get there.'
My sister, in the meantime, was FUMING that they weren't hearing her screams from the basement. When they finally unlocked the door, they were both armed with some household items and started beating her with them until she pushed on some pressure points and dragged them kicking and screaming to their rooms.
When the mom arrived to find my sister a distressed mess she paid her extra and apologetically said, 'You don't have to come back after today.'"
"I took a job to teach a kid German. I kind of stumbled into the position, but he was attending a small private high school and was required to take two years of a foreign language to graduate. His mom mentioned that he had ADHD and it would be hard for him to retake another year. She'd arranged with the school board that if he could take the national exam and pass, it would count as his second year.
He was 16 years old and his family lived in a gorgeous, $2 million house in the most affluent neighborhood in our area. His dad owned some sort of African safari business, so they had all sorts of awesome stuff lying around. Ceremonial masks, spears, drums, and animals.
I tutored him twice a week for several weeks. His mom thought that I could be there under two hours a week and get her kid through high school German. So I tried assigning homework, but he refused to do it. I spent almost three weeks working on one thing that he should've learned in 20 minutes. That ended when I asked him to turn to a page in his textbook, and he responded by ripping the page out and eating it.
Later that week, the mom reprimanded me for it because I should've set out a snack for him and his 12-year-old brother since they were clearly hungry.
I gave it another couple of weeks, but the final straw was when he got worked up and started jumping around. He ran in and out of the kitchen and grabbed a traditional African spear and threw it at me. I moved slightly, avoided the spear, but landed in their very, very nice leather couch. It was a very real spear that went straight through the couch. I grabbed my bag, my laptop, and walked out.
The mother didn't understand why I left."
"I was 13 and was babysitting my neighbors’ kids. It was my first time, so the parents walked me through all the rules about the bathroom and TV and food and bedtime, etc. Just as the parents were taking off for the night, the mom came back in and whispered to me, 'Don’t go into the basement.' As a teenager in the '80s, my mind went to all the scariest movies that had basements.
I avoided the door to the basement all night until I had put the kids to bed. Then I walked slowly to the door and put my ear against it. I heard what sounded like whimpering. And then it sounded like sad laughing. I ran to the couch and started watching a show to get my mind off of it, but then I heard something fall in the basement and knew someone was down there. I really don’t know how I got the courage/stupidity to do it, but I went over and opened the door. The whining instantly got louder. I went down just three or four stairs, so I could peek down....and I saw.....a goat.
As soon as the goat saw me, he started bleating loudly. It scared the daylight out of me. I went upstairs and the goat was still bleating loudly...so much that it woke up the kids. The oldest girl came out and said, 'Did you open the door to the basement?' I said, 'Yeah, why?' She said, 'When you do that, Carlos thinks you’re going to feed him, and he starts yelling.' Thank god I knew it was a goat first, because if she had said that before I went down, I would’ve thought Carlos was some kidnapped person in the basement who would yell for food.
It became very funny to me. The mom came home and I told her what happened and she almost died laughing. They were repairing the goat pen and had to keep him in the basement for a few days. I still remember every moment of that night vividly."
"I babysat for a family in high school. They typically brought over their two little kids and then went to work on the weekends. The first time I watched them, I immediately noticed a couple of things. First, they had serious speech impediments. Like, they were 5 and 7, and they were essentially unintelligible for most words. I could typically understand what they wanted by having them point it out (for instance what food they wanted) and we worked on speech and pronunciation a lot. Second, they reeked like they had spent most of their lives living in a litter box. They just carried this deep-rooted musky scent of cat urine and feces with them. So we also worked on hygiene and bathing (we'd wash their dirty clothes and give them a bath when they came over). This went on for a few months until one night their parents asked my brother and I to watch the kids at their place. Sure, we'll do it, the kids are pretty fun and it was easy money.
When we get to their place, I saw that it was a double-wide trailer and the door was open. We started to roll up and a stink just hit me. I've had people describe particularly putrid smells as a wall of scent and that is 100% accurate to what I experienced. I'm fairly certain I lack the capability to describe just how bad this place stunk. It was like somebody had taken a jar of cat pee, let it ferment all summer in Texas, and then surprised me by opening it in my face. It was just pervasive and no place in their trailer didn't make me retch.
The parents went off to work and left us to watch the kids. I was extremely skeptical about sitting down on their furniture because there was cat poop everywhere. There were three litter boxes practically overflowing with it, there was cat poop in the (unused) shower, there was cat poop behind the couch, and the cushions had obviously seen some action too. When I go to cook dinner for the kids, the shelves are practically empty. There were no pots, so I ended up microwaving some hot dogs for them, which was apparently an extremely common meal.
The room that the kids stayed in was inundated with cat excrement and toys. One of the kids couldn't even sleep in his bed there was just so much stuff, so he slept on the couch.
When we got home after that ordeal, we had a long talk with our mom about calling child services and ultimately decided to do it. I'd learn later that they removed the older child from their custody due to anger problems he had that resulted in him beating his little brother. It makes me tear up just thinking about those kids. The older one must be about 18 now and the younger one is probably 16 or so. I'm not sure I have the heart to look them up."
"I was 12 years old, babysitting my 2-year-old cousin for a few hours. Things were going great: Uncle already fed her, I changed her diaper with no problems, and we were watching some DVD. But then, she started fussing. I figured she wanted her favorite toy, so I looked around the bedroom. Alas, I couldn't find it. Where could it have gone? I looked under everything, heading into the hallway to look for it. And then, I heard a loud 'Thunk.'
It sounded like the baby fell out the window. We were on the third floor! I bolted back into the bedroom. And there she was, giggling and tottering by the window, where she threw her favorite toy out through a hole in the screen (in my panic, I completely forgot about them).
Good news: My baby cousin didn't fall to her death! Bad news: Her toy was stuck on the second story roof.
My uncle was not happy when he got back."
"Where do I begin? I babysat almost every single Friday and Saturday night through high school, but here are my top two.
Everything went south when the mom left early one morning and I was supposed to meet the dad at the house. I got there at 8:00, but no one was there. The dad was supposed to drop the older kid off at daycare (I never babysat her but found out she was also mentally handicapped) then meet me at the house. I didn't have the parents' numbers but I emailed the mom after 9 am rolled around and no one showed up. Finally, I was about to leave when I got a call from the dad, he said he was about to pull up. He arrived and ended up yelling at me about his wife for over THREE HOURS!! I learned all about how she sucked, they hadn't been close in ages, her postpartum depression wasn't real, etc. He then picked up his son and tell him, 'It's ok that mommy doesn't love you, I love you enough.' He kept saying that over and over. He then got mad at me for telling his wife that he was late because she freaks out about everything and would blame him for not being on time. Finally, he left for work (after taking another awkward shower) and I watched 'Project Runway' on my phone while the kid slept.
I have no clue why I stayed that long, but I felt like this guy was going to start crying if I said I needed to leave. I also stuck around for an hour before he showed up because I legitimately thought the mom had snapped and killed her family since all their cars were out. I later found out that the dad had borrowed his brother-in-law's car and the mom had walked to a coffee shop.
My other story...
The Spankening: One of my earliest babysitting experiences in middle school. This family lived down the street from me, and they were weird. The dad would work from home and stay upstairs while the kids and I were downstairs. One day, we were playing 'house' and I was the dog who had to sleep on this daybed in their playroom. I laid down and the kids jumped on me (three kids aged 5-13). While I was attempting to wrangle them off me, their friend handcuffed me to the bed. They then proceeded to pull down my pants and begin spanking me over and over again. I started scream because it was very painful, but they wouldn't stop. This is when the dad came downstairs. Thinking my salvation was there, the dad walked in, laughed at me, then turned around and walked back upstairs. I finally got them to uncuff me by kicking the kids as hard as possible. The family calculated the exact cost per minute, so I would get checks for like $22.47. I never went back after the spanking though."
"I was a babysitter for a kid down the street. He was a pretty okay kid, so sometimes if my friends were gone, I'd go down and hang out with him because he also had cooler toys than me (I was like 13; he was 8, I think).
One of the times that I was over there just playing with toys and stuff, it ended my babysitting career. We were playing a game. He had one of those foam rockets that was attached to a tube and a pedal. Basically you would stomp on the pedal and the rocket would fly into the air. We were doing that but then hitting the rocket with a wooden dowel. One of the times, I jumped on the pedal to try to get the rocket to launch as high as I possibly could, and when I swung that dowel, I felt a horrible 'thwack' as it came into contact with his forehead. He decided to try to catch the rocket, and I was keeping my eye on it, so I could try to hit it, so I didn't see him. Thankfully, I was a 13-year-old girl so there wasn't a LOT of strength behind it, but it was enough that he had a deep wound on his forehead that was streaming blood down his face.
His mom made me leave immediately and never let me babysit again. I can't say that I blame her. My mom and dad had to pay his medical bills. I think he just had to have some stitches. Either way, I felt pretty bad."
"For a few months, I babysat for this family. The husband was a millionaire businessman and the wife was a stay at home mom. She put an ad out on a babysitting website and I responded. She had three kids: a 13-year-old book worm, a 9-year-old who loved anyone who showed her attention, and a 5-year-old demon child. I only watched the kids (mainly the two younger ones) for a few hours three times a week.
The first warning I got was the pay. I told the mom that when I was with one kid, it was $15/hour, two was $25/hour, and all three were $30/hour, and if I drove anywhere, I would be compensated for gas. She was 'so completely ok' with that arrangement until it was pay day. She found every excuse in the book why she didn't think I shouldn't get paid that much. I threatened to leave and 'talk to her husband about it' and that quickly changed her mind. She could afford me. Maybe she was trying to play a power game with me, but I wasn't going to back down.
The second warning sign was the 9-year-old. She was a good kid, but because she 'loved me,' she wanted me to go to her after school talent shows, art shows, and school functions. So I went to one and after that I was expected to go to all of them. Then she told me how out of the last '13 babysitters my mom hired' I was her favorite. She also would text me non-stop from her mom's phone all the time to the point I was getting at least 150 messages a day from her. When I mentioned it to the mom and asked her to tell her to stop, the messages would double because she didn't like being told 'no.'
The final warning was with the 5-year-old – a spoiled, horrible little girl. She was the type of kids whose parents would get anything she wanted just to shut her up from acting out. She wouldn't call me by my name, she would call me 'sitter.' 'Sitter, I'm thirsty, get me a juice,' or 'Sitter, I don't want you sitting with me. Sit on the floor.' When I would tell mom about this, she would just laugh it off and said she calls all the help 'pet names.'
But this is what did me in. We were outside one nice morning. She wanted to ride her bike in the street. Now, I made it very clear to the mom that when she was with me, she could ride her bike in the driveway or the backyard (as the mom told me that she liked to just 'take off'). And the mom agreed. When I told her that she was to stay in the driveway, this kid lost her mind. She threw her $1,000 bike across the driveway, screaming and crying like she was being attacked. She told me how she was going to 'get me to stay with the cop men.' She was just flipping out because I told her that she has to stay in the driveway. I took her by her hand and told her that she was in time-out for 5 minutes, and that when it was over, she had to go pick up her bike. This kid started ranting and raving like an adult. She walked around the room to the kitchen, hands on her hip, dramatically turning around and pointing a finger at me. She got a bag of chips and a juice box and flopped down on the couch muttering to herself about bikes like this kid was crazy.
After she was done, I told her to go get her bike and bring it outback. As she was doing this, the scream that came from this kid almost gave me a heart attack. When I heard her I was like, 'If this kid hurt herself going the two feet outside...'
I ran out to see her mom in the driveway, looking confused and this kid screaming bloody murder all because her mom came home.
The mom came in with her and the kid told this outrageous story and the mom just rolled her eyes and told her to go watch TV. I was just about to tell mom what happened and she cut me off and said, 'I know...it's ok.' It's then that I realized that I could no longer handle that kid. I emailed her the next day pretty much telling her that she needed to NOT hire help for everything and just be a mom to her kids and that by the end of the week, I would pick up my pay and be done.
In the end, I feel for those kids because they needed parents, not babysitters. On a side note, the 13-year-old was chill. I barely interacted with her. She would read by the window and I was cool with that. Although one time, the 5-year-old threw a tantrum outside and I asked her to help, and she just walked away. Looking back now, I don't blame her. For a year after that, I would get a call now and then from mom asking if she tripled the pay if I could come back for a few days, and I would just say no. It's not worth the money."
"I babysat for a woman who knew my mom. She had two kids, who both acted like feral animals and kicked and bit me very hard when I told them no. She had her TV behind Plexiglas because they keep breaking it. She had locks on the outside of the bedroom door and crib set up that essentially locked the younger kid (3 or 4 years old) into her crib — it had a top that you pulled down and padlocked to the sides. It was absolutely horrific.
The kids screamed bloody murder when I tried to get them to listen — their grandma who lived next door came over. Did she come over to help me out? No, she gave these kids cookies and trash talked me for not being able to control them, like it's my fault that her grandchildren act like animals and not the fact that their mother apparently treats them like animals. She gives them treats when they have temper tantrums instead of putting them in timeout like a normal person.
Their mom promised to be back by 9 — important because I was in high school. She wasn't back until 2:00 am and that was after I started calling all the bars to find her. I was planning to eat dinner afterwards, so I was starving. I called my mom and she ordered delivery for me. The grandmother got mad that she didn't order enough for the kids too and guilted me into sharing it. The mom finally came home, paid me $10 for 10 hours of babysitting even though we agreed on $20 for five hours. She proceeded to bad mouth me the next time she went out, saying I was lazy and a bad babysitter.
She said I should have spanked them and locked them in the bedroom when they started acting up.
My mom and I contacted CPS afterwards, but unfortunately, nothing came of it. Where I live, they give people 24-hour notice before inspecting a house, so I'm sure she was able to hide whatever or they just gave her a warning. I never babysat there again."