Babysitting is one of the most underappreciated jobs out there. Quite a lot of people automatically assume that just because you’re a babysitter, you’ve got it easy. What they don’t often realize is that they’re seeing the tip of the iceberg: the world of babysitting is far deeper and far more demanding than you’d think… and it sometimes has a hilarious edge to it.
Case in point, the babysitters of Reddit have been sharing the weirdest and funniest rules that parents asked them to follow after redditor Foraring asked them to open up about their experiences. If you think you know everything there is to know about babysitting, you’re in for a few surprises. If you know nothing about babysitting, well, buckle in because it’s going to be a wild ride.
Pssst, Pandas, don’t forget to upvote the stories that you liked the most. Got any weird babysitting tales to tell of your own? Drop by the comment section at the bottom of this list.
Get ready for a creepy story….
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 of 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 tv 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. Not a ghost. A goat. As soon as the goat saw me, he started bleating loudly. It scared the crap 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 of 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.
Babysat for a family that had three boys, one a newborn. I was never to feed the baby by holding it next to me, but I was to put it on my legs and make eye contact with him at all times…no cuddling. Also, I was never to let the older boys lose any game we were playing. I quit after about a month.
I had to change the kids cloth diaper every 2 hours on the dot. The kid was 6. I assumed it was for some sort of disability or something, but no. His parents just didn’t want to potty train him, and the kid was content with being babied. I remember just making the kid put his own diaper on and encouraged him to use the bathroom if he had to go. I never went back.
The world of babysitting is utterly captivating. I’ve been down this particular rabbit hole more than a handful of times, speaking to babysitters and industry professionals about their experiences taking care of other people’s children. Bizarre rules often spring up from the fact that each and every parent believes that they (and they alone!) know what’s best for their child.
There’s nothing wrong with that, however, it can make it difficult to look at things objectively from time to time. Your child might be the center of your universe, but that doesn’t mean that the 101 rules you’ve got in place for nannies are solid—they might scare away potentially great babysitters, instead.
When I was a kid, there was a mom who would only allow her kids to do art on Tuesdays. I never learned why it was only one day or why it was Tuesday. But she totally flipped out one day when we did it on the wrong day.
I had to put the kids to sleep with the CD player going. That wasn’t the weird part.
It was a recording of their parents basically going “Molly, you are wonderful. You are a star. You’re going to shine bright.” That isn’t super weird…But it was like several hours long, and apparently they listened to it every night.
The kid couldn’t have dessert if she didn’t finish her dinner. Problem was she was about 4 or 5 and dinner was two cheeseburgers and sides. She ate half of one and,was okay with not getting dessert
Babysitting can be very lucrative if you’ve got the right skills and work with the right clients. Professional babysitter and redditor, Nannyponyo, told Bored Panda earlier how she once worked a job where she got a whopping 700 dollars per week. The clients also provided room and board and compensated for the use of her car during work hours.
“I think the most unreasonable demands are absurd restrictions for no reason. I have worked with several special needs kids or kids with special circumstances (severe allergies, anxiety, etc.), and some truly need healthy restrictions, but I’ve met with many families who expect a 45+ hour work week and the caregiver is not allowed to leave the home with the child,” the nanny shared with Bored Panda the range of parents that nannies can expect to work with during their careers.
Only 2 hours of reading time. To be fair, the mom was a librarian and her two kids were adorably nerdy. They had an entire room filled with books and even then we’d make trips to the library from time to time. The rest of the time was supposed to be outside or doing some activity. It was a super sweet deal too because she paid for not only her kids to have a pool pass but me as well, so we basically went everyday all summer and we would play in the pool.
“just let the kid be right, we believe in his achievement”
…he’s f**king 5 and wants to kick your lapdog around the house. No, we’re doing it my way today.
Babysat twice for them.
“If Brady stands by the door it just means he needs to go out. Open the door, and let him back inside in a few minutes.”
Brady was a four year old boy.
According to redditor Nannyponyo, parents who don’t let their kids leave the house and, well, play and act like kids are doing them plenty of harm. “They’re destroying any chance for their child to grow and develop socially and often motor skills are delayed because they’re afraid to let their child out of the house to run and climb and play the way they should,” she said.
“I think they believe that it’s their child that they are raising the way they want to (which I do agree with, to an extent) and all rules should be blindly followed. But some nannies (like myself) have been in the field for many years and can offer valuable insight and advice, which they are rarely willing to take because parenting is so personal,” the babysitter explained that some parents are unwilling to listen to professional advice, no matter how good it might be.
Wasn’t a rule, but on my first day they sent over an adult male friend of theirs who asked to come in. I said no, and was then told I was being tested and I had passed.
I’m a professional nanny and one of the families I worked for had a strict “no games” rule. Not as in video games, but as in any game that could have a winner and a loser. No board games, no tag, nothing. “Winning and losing leads to hurt feelings” was their explanation. I’d have to stop the girls any time they said something like “I bet I can get to the end of the driveway faster” and remind them “Mom and Dad say no competition, remember?” Everything had to be perfectly equal or the parents would lose it completely. I fired them as clients shortly after.
I watched 2 girls and the parents asked if I would give them a bath- I thought no problem… then they told me that I must get in the bath with the 2 girls for safety reasons… I said I didn’t have my bathing suit and they both looked at me like I had three heads and asked why I would wear a suit.. girls got a bath without me in the tub and I searched the bathroom for a hidden camera.. didn’t find one, but still never went back.
“That’s the same reason I believe they often don’t want to offer adequate compensation: it’s personal. They’re (most likely, in my experience) paying you under the table, they’re trying to get a good deal, and they love their child. They don’t think that looking after their ‘precious angel’ is a job; it’s a treat. They would love to be home with their child all day, so I think they feel like it’s not a real job. It’s something you get to do, and they’re mad they have to pay someone to do it.”
One woman I found through care.com was just generally pretty weird. Some of the weirder things were:
-only let the kids have 3 spoonfuls of peanut butter each
-the boy might want to throw softballs at me, just try to catch them to avoid getting hit
-also if he doesn’t want to brush his teeth just hold him down and do it for him even if he’s screaming
Also both times I babysat she didn’t tell me when she’d be home and didn’t how up until the middle of the night, totally wasted. The first time she forgot to pay me, and I was too nervous to say anything so she had me pick cash up from her mailbox later in the week. She shorted me $5.
The kids screamed, hit, fought, and made messes the whole time, and wanted me to chase them around the yard with sticks. I did not. I also stopped going there.
Asked me to drive their three year old twins around in my personal vehicle for 2.5 hours because “that’s the only way they can nap”.
No. I simply put the kids in their beds, closed the door, and they were asleep in 15 minutes.
My mom told me a story of when she you to babysit during her teenage years. She did it for this religious family whose church did not believe in television or their members watching it. She would bring a portable tv with her to watch once the kids were asleep. The parents came home and they were captivated by it. They would invite her over just so they could watch television.
Redditor Nannyponyo said that parents love their children and would be willing to do anything for them. “There’s a connection there that someone else could never have, and they can’t imagine not having that connection, so they treat it like it’s not a job, it’s a privilege. The ‘you’re so lucky you get to stay home with my baby while I have to go to work’ mindset, when in reality we leave our families to take care of yours; we don’t want to leave our families in the morning for work any more than you do, but it’s our job.”
I was to keep my skin entirely covered because they were concerned that the newborn drooling on me was too intimate. I had to drape a fresh baby blanket over my entire body every time I was to hold him.
“Don’t let the children play with the nonbelievers.” They were a super Christian family that I babysat for a few times. One time the children were looking out the window at the neighbors playing and I asked if they wanted to go outside and play, and I s**t you not, this little 5 year old looks me in the eyes and says “We can’t. They are not of God.” So f**king creepy. I wasn’t asked back after I accidentally said “oh my gosh” one time. Apparently gosh is too close to god lmao
Not a rule but a single mom once told me to use the bat by the door in the event the kids father comes by and tries to take them. That was pretty weird and uncomfortable.
Oh god this is my time to shine. I babysat for this family for the first time ever and the mother was walking me around the house, giving me instructions and showing me around and then stopped at the fridge. She explained to me that when I sent her son to bed, I was to give him 1 hotdog out of the fridge. No heating it, no bun, just a cold soggy hotdog for her son to munch on in bed. Apparently he ate one every night. This was like 7 years ago and I seriously haven’t stopped thinking about it.
One had me feed her 1 year old ONLY from a freshly opened baby food container. If she only ate two or three spoonfulls, I was to throw it away and when she wanted more in 15 minutes I was to open a new one. I thought it was so she would finish her meal and be full for a while, but she said it was OK to feed her every time she wanted it. I would probably throw away 5 or 6 jars in a 2 hour sitting. They cost more than I usually made for sitting.
The mom had me put her kids in their car seats and sit in the driveway with all the car doors open while she just hung out inside the house. 5 hours of me standing in the driveway watching them sit inside their car. Never returned.
Edit: I meant I never returned to babysit for her again, not that the mother mysteriously disappeared.
As for people asking why I didn’t take them somewhere, she specifically asked me to just sit in the driveway with them. I also didn’t have my drivers license yet so I couldn’t have taken them anywhere even if I wanted to. The kids were twins who were 4 years old, I think. They were weirdly, weirdly well behaved and didn’t complain about what we were doing. To this day I have no idea what she was doing inside or why she didn’t just let them play in the yard. I am just as confused as you.
I was told that the only thing she specifically wasn’t allowed to do was eat a bowl of sugar
The mother asked me to stop by the house to meet her 2 year old son a week before I was supposed to babysit him for the first time. I pulled up to the house and saw that the young boy was standing at the glass front door with a t-shirt on and nothing else. I go in and I must have given the child a strange look because the mom started to explain that her son doesn’t like to wear pants so they let him run around pants-less with no diaper on, though he isn’t potty trained. I told her that this made me uncomfortable and asked if I could put pants on him when I was watching him, and she got upset with me and said they don’t like to make their 2 year old son do anything he doesn’t like to do so they let him run around without pants on, which unfortunately means he goes to the bathroom on the floor since he won’t wear a diaper and he isn’t potty-trained.
I interviewed for a nanny position once and was asked how I felt about giving mom and dad massages.
OMG thanks for asking because you reminded me of a weird thing.
The 3 year old daughter HAD to watch this vhs tape of a live Fleetwood Mac concert before bed.
I was like, okay cute , that’s adorable, 3 year olds love the weirdest things she’s so quirky and this will be fun.
But she didn’t love it. She always wanted to watch land before time instead. But it was always on the note left for me. Like /pager number, pediatrician, chicken soup for dinner is in fridge and, and WATCH FLEETWOOD MAC at 630 before bed/
Obviously the family eventually found out I wasn’t making her watch it, as I had no f**king reason to believe it was a secret. They were clearly upset by this and I was never called back to babysit.
Mom was a-okay with girls aged 7 and 9 watching Grease every day, leading the girls to ask over lunch one day what a hooker was. Mom was NOT okay with them watching Disney’s Hercules, as it centered around gods other than the One True.
I used to babysit for this family when I was in high school (in the 80s) and they had no books or reading material of any kind, except that there would usually be like two sections of the WSJ and a running magazine lying around. No. Books.
Anyway, once I went over there and the mom told me like nine times, BEGGED ME, not to eat the box of ‘Nilla Wafers that was in the cupboard because she needed them for a recipe the next day. BEGGED. I was like, “Ok, got it. They’re totally safe because I don’t even like vanilla wafers!” She kept mentioning it, and it was the first thing she asked me about when they got home.
To give him warm milk in a baby bottle right after every dinner – he was a fully functional 10 year old boy.
Edit: To answer some of the quesions: Yes, he was fine with it; His parents were otherwise normal (as far as I saw), the kid himself was great; His teeth seemed fine from what I can remember (not that I really would have paid attention to that back then), but I just found him on facebook and it looks like he did have braces around 14-15 years old
When my brother did babysitting for our neighbors’ kids, their rule was:
“No locking the bathroom door. Allow one minute for the kid to do #1, three minutes for #2, and go inside to check if they take longer.”
No hot sauce after 9pm.
Edit: To give some context, the kid LOVED hot sauce…but his folks were super over protective…maybe they had heard of ppl eating too much hot sauce an throwing it up as it would not settle?
Honestly the kid was made of solid steel…we went to Taco Bell pretty much every time I babysat.
I had to use a rock to trace the ABCs on the kids back so he could fall asleep.
There was an order in which we had to go up and down the stairs.
When I was about 15 I was asked by a family in my church to babysit for them. I didn’t know them all that well. Like, I had never babysat anyone before and have no idea why they asked me. This family had a daughter about a year younger than me, so I figured she wasn’t going to be home. I found out not only that she was going to be home, but the primary reason I was there wasn’t for her two younger sisters, but for her. I guess she got nightmares and if she woke up I was supposed to “hug and kiss” her. This was quite the shocker to me and I was really uncomfortable with it, but I stayed anyway. Luckily she didn’t wake up.
Incidentally, that couple later got divorced. I think I was babysitting while the mom cheated (he was on a business trip).
If the kids misbehaved I was encouraged to spank them with a paddle they had, then make them write their names on it.
Another family was perfectly normal until bedtime. Then I had to give the 5 year old girl a bottle, put her in a diaper, then cuddle with her until she fell asleep. Like I said everything else about her and the family was normal. But at bedtime I basically had to treat her like an infant.
Refused to let their kids eat raw veggies for absolutely no reason. They never told me this, so I gave the kids ages 5-7 raw, washed and cut broccoli with some ranch for a snack. They were happily eating as the mom was getting ready for a party. She walked by, saw the kids eating the broccoli, took it from them, microwaved it and said they like it much better this way.
The kids did not like it better and even they thought it was weird. I was then instructed to never give them raw veggies.
I could understand if they were toddlers still learning to chew, but these kids were plenty old enough to chew broccoli florets without choking.
I babysat in a small resort area with a large concert venue in the PNW. There was a Phish concert and a couple contacted me to watch their baby — maybe a little less than a year old? I don’t remember now — while they enjoyed the concert.
They said if she wakes up feed her a bottle and she will go back to sleep.
I looked at the bottle and it was herb water. It smelled like kitchen spices mixed in with the water. I was so confused! I was like babies drink milk?
Luckily when she woke up I just rocked her back to sleep and life was good. No nasty oregano water for her that day.