Babysitter monitoring idea

I know I can’t be the only one who’s seen a really good babysitter and wished I could let her employers know how lucky they are to ahve her, or, even more upsettingly, seen a babysitter doing something so bad that I wished I could warn her employers. The problem is that unless you know the family, there’s virtually no way to know how to contact the parents, short of following the babysitter home.

The good people at The Opinionated Parent tipped me off to this interesting service from Howsmynanny.com. Basically, you sign up with the site, and they give you a license plate to put on your stroller so people can log in to the site and send compliments or danger reports about your babysitter. Read the Opinionated Parent post about it for the details (and to sign up to win a free membership to the service).


I think this raises some interesting issues. To me, putting a license plate on your stroller is so much better than doing a nannycam for all involved. It’s clearly better for the babysitter, because who wants to be videotaped at work without her knowledge? Plus, great nanny skills can be noticed and complimented. And I think it’s better for the employer parents, too, because it gives them a way to get confirmation of their feelings about the babysitter in a more professional way.


I can see two interesting issues with this service. The first is that it doesn’t do anything for people whose babysitters are not out and about in a stroller. And if you do use a stroller all the time (like people do her ein NYC), you still have no way of knowing what’s happening in places and situations in which the stroller isn’t there. So users might not be comfortable with that. (To me, it all goes back to following your gut and not hiring someone you don’t feel good about in the first place. And if the license plate helps you calm down general fears so that you can listen to your gut about that particular babysitter, then that’s great.)


The more interesting issue I can see is what will happen if parents get reported to themselves for bad caretaking behavior! I think we’ve all done things that someone else might construe as bad caretaking. So how are you going to react if someone emails in about something “bad” you’ve done? I’d hope I’d be able to look at it and use it as a reality check (Was it something actually inappropriate that I shouldn’t do again? Or just an immature or stressed-out reaction to loathesome child behavior that I won’t repeat anyway? Or was the reporter off-base?). But if I doubted my own parenting skills, then this could open up a can of worms for me personally.


What do you think? Personally, I think it’s the best solution I’ve seen yet for a situation that has so many inherent problems and sticky issues but is also really high-stakes. But it’s not perfect.

0 thoughts on “Babysitter monitoring idea”

  1. I don’t think this service is a bad idea but I think a better idea is immediate intervention. If I saw someone with a stroller with a license plate doing something inappropriate (or about to do something inappropriate), instead of contacting the website and reporting the problem, I think it would be far more effective to step in and try to help the situation right then and there.

  2. Mmmmm, not sure about this one. All the monitoring that goes on in today’s society has me a bit worried anyway. I think that asking the public to report back on bahviour/actions is like the nanny-cam thing but kind of abdicating responsibility. If you feel the need to monitor your nanny/babysitter, then just admit it maybe and go the whole hog? If your nanny/babysitter is uncomfortable with this, I don’t see how letting the general public comment on his/her skills is going to make them feel any better…? It’s still monitoring, just once removed!I tend to agree that the gut feeling in the first place is going to be your most reliable indicator. Besides, everyone screws up sometimes – what would happen if we actually SAW that people aren’t perfect? What then? Opens many cans of worms, IMHO.

  3. Lots of employers review their employees’ progress and performance. But very few responsible employers would use the opinions of random strangers to do so.

  4. Would anyone actually call? I see the how’s my driving thing all the time and have been cut-off by that truck, and I never call even though the phone is right-there in the cup holder.Also, about the nanny-cam, I don’t think it’s without their knowledge. You just tell them when they start that you may monitor them. Period. And if a teddy bear with a camera shows up at some point, well, there you have it. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

  5. I think it is a bad solution. It still sends the “I don’t trust you” message to the nanny and yet totally fails to monitor the safety of your kids in the home, when nobody’s looking, etc. Also, I hate to say this…but I OFTEN disagree with other parents about how to care for kids and I really don’t feel like inviting the nosey Nancy’s on my street to report every perceived infraction.I think the gut feeling approach is important. I also think cultivating friendships with the folks in your neighborhood who are around during the day is important. You can’t expect your neighbor to monitor your nanny…but if you are friendly and chatty with your neighbor, they might be more inclined to inform you of any serious misconduct.
    Finally, I think it bears mentioning that it is a good idea to be PAINFULLY clear about your expectations re two things that seem to cause the most problems: discipline and personal-time-while-watching-your-kids. If you don’t tell them otherwise, assume your nanny will spend all day on her cell phone and watching TV.

  6. I can’t picture wanting to be the nanny in this case.I’m going to vote with ‘if you’re really worried about the person, don’t hire them. If you’re not worried about the person but not sure about the entire concept, open up the conversation more – talk to them more, do more trial run days with the candidates, get more references, talk to references for a longer time, etc.’
    If I was going to do something like this with a nanny, I’d want to find a way for her to have equal power back, and what would that be? Reporting my skills as an employer? Reporting whether she’d work with my kids again (as of last week, the elder two are not on her happy list…)? Yes, I’d get reports on me, too. But would they be any more valid than those on her? Would I look good outside the house and bad inside the house? Better in the morning than the evening?
    I do understand the bumper-sticker idea, but it is a stand-in, and I’m not sure it is an effective one. Better than nothing? Maybe.
    Yes, people tend to report negatives and not positives; Yes, people can randomly abuse the system; No, there’s no way to validate the ethics or personal issues or parenting philosophy of the person reporting. There’s STILL no guarantee that any abuse would be spotted (just like with a nanny-cam – did she just not abuse them *that* day? or in range of the camera? or where someone would see? Or where someone who wanted to get involved was present?).

  7. This idea makes me uncomfortable. We have a nanny who we adore and trust. I am realistic enough to know that nothing, including her, or me, is perfect. I wouldn’t want my actions as a parent subject to anonymous public scrutiny, and I wouldn’t like this if I were a nanny. There’s just not enough accountability or context to make the results reliable or meaningful. Creative idea, but I’d have to vote “no.”

  8. How would you know it was the nanny you were reporting on, and not the mom taking a day off work, or an aunt, or grandma, or dad? Sometimes it is clear that the two are not at all, in any way, related…..but sometimes, it’s not as clear.And man….what a slap in the face that would be, huh? Because we all have those moments of losing it.

  9. SarcastiCarrie, of the people I know who’ve nanny-cam’d, none of them told the babysitter.And shirky, what about all the customer service surveys you get after doing things online? What about all the “How’s my driving?” stickers? What about the “your call may be recorded for quality service” you hear every time you call a business?
    Heather, what if you thought intervening would just make things worse for the kid?
    I don’t know. Maybe my time on the playground just made me too aware of the stuff caretakers do that’s bad for kids. And, yes, sometimes it’s parents, but that doesn’t mean that paid babysitters should get a free pass if they’re not acting right. Maybe I should ask my current babysitter how she’d feel about walking around with a license plate on the stroller.

  10. I personally think this is a great idea but I agree people will report only the negatives. I live in the DC area and our local mom’s forum/website is always overflowing with posts ratting out “bad nanny’s”. These nanny’s often turn out to be the actual mom. I love the idea of an id # and a place to contact, kind of like the “How Am I Driving” stickers on trucks.Should I ever go back to work I would install a nanny cam and tell the nanny it is in the house, but not where it is. I would want to be upfront as well as prevent any bad behavior.
    I am curious as to why a former nanny would think this is a bad idea? If you are doing your job and treating the children well why would it be an issue at all?

  11. Hmmmm. I think this all depends on whether or not the nanny is looking at softcore porn on a computer while pushing the stroller.

  12. The thing is, driving is so much less nuanced than childcare, so “How’s my driving”? on a truck that is being driven is easily evaluated. “SOB 4969 was speeding/cut me off/ran a red light.”But the relationship between two people needs to be seen in context. If something is truly dangerous, deal with it on the spot. If something is not the relationship you think is ideal, what do you do? She was impatient? Abrupt? Inattentive? Well, to what extent, and do you know what else was happening? How often this situation arises?
    I’m with those who want a gut check. If you must, try a spot check on your own. But having random strangers monitor a crucial relationship doesn’t sit right with me.

  13. I don’t know how I would even put the license plate on the stoller without feeling like an a$$hat. Hey, “trusted” nanny. Watch my kid all day, but when you are out, random stranger will report you!I don’t think it’s comparable to the customer service surveys or monitored calls, because their job is providing the public with customer service, therefore their evaluation is based on their interaction with strangers. This, as others have said, is a stranger making an evaluation without all the information or context that should be included. I feel that the How’s My Driving is the same… it’s evaluating how the driver interacts with people on the road.
    I wish there was an easy solution for knowing what goes on when you aren’t there without taking down the trust that is so important to build, but I’m not sure this is the solution.
    Incidentally, I once called a How’s My Driving to report how well I thought a truck driving was doing on a busy DC Area interstate. The guy who took my call was completely surprised that it was a compliment not a complaint. It was like he didn’t know what to do with me. People usually like to complain and tear others down. It’s not often people make that extra effort to report a good thing.

  14. I agree with Slim, exactly. Unless it’s obviously abuse (in which case intervene on the spot) it needs context.Horrible example from my own life: my daughter was having One Of Those Days for a 3-year-old. Whiny, obstreperous, one meltdown after another, foot-dragging, pinching her baby brother on the sly. And finally, when she was winding up for another whiny tantrum in a store, I took her out to the car (our policy) but I completely lost it yelling at her (not our policy.) And someone called the cops on me. The woman who did it was sitting nearby drinking beer on her rooftop, saw me grimly marching our daughter to the car, heard me yell at her, and called the cops. I still feel sick and awful about this. The woman didn’t have the context (even if I shouldn’t have yelled so much), and mostly, neither do we.
    What kind of bad behavior are you referring to, Moxie? Worse than me?

  15. I’d hate to have someone stick a license plate on the door of my office and invite strangers to call in to report my behavior at my office job. I don’t think a nanny should be treated with any less respect; if a parent doesn’t trust a potential nanny, they shouldn’t hire the nanny, rather than relying on the un-verifiable reports of strangers.In addition, I think a parent will NEVER build trust with a childcare worker if they slap a license plate on the stroller (or install a nanny-cam, something I find even more insulting and invasive).

  16. To BabyBrady – I have to say, your final comment is really a dangerous leap to make. Just because one is doing nothing wrong doesn’t mean one should submit to any level of surveillance or observation beyond what is reasonable.

  17. I am very against this. I find it offensive and off-putting. I would be offended if I were the nanny in question (and I say this having nannied for many, many years for difficult families). And I would be offended *for* the nanny if I were the random stranger invited to evaluate his/her behavior.More often than not, I think nannies are in the difficult position of observing and being asked to imitate and sustain questionable parenting tactics.
    Less surveillance, people! Sheesh.

  18. I really don’t like this at all. First, I think it’s almost like a spotlight drawing attention to the nanny as in “my employer doesn’t trust me…please report my behavior…”.Also, my feeling is that if you have a bad enough sense that your nanny might do something questionnable, you shouldn’t hire that person in the first place. I’m not sure if that’s naive, but in my opinion, it’s all about going with your gut (and being diligent about reference checking, trial runs, etc.) and then hoping for the best. There is only so much control that one can have that is “reasonable.”

  19. Thinking more about this – it comes down to one of the issues I’m grappling with (reasonably successfully) lately – that of motivation.There is one question we commonly ask ourselves about our kids – what do we want them to do (how do we want them to behave)? We know what we want – safe, respectful, kind, or some variation thereof, right?
    Now, what do we want the reason for them behaving that way to be? Fear? Or do we want them to behave well with others because they WANT to do so? I’d rather have my child behave well because they wish to do so, because it feels good, because they genuinely resonate to the other person’s needs, because they understand and have empathy… not because they want to avoid a punishment, because they fear a reaction, etc.
    In human relationships, this is important to me. I don’t want my DH bringing me flowers because he knows I’ll throw a hairy snit if he doesn’t. I want him to to so because he knows I love getting flowers, and he chose freely to get them because they’d make me feel happy.
    In a legal system, we enforce with fear/consequences, because there is no relationship implied that can be counted upon across the board (other than the choice to live where we do, with those laws in place). Yes, most people obey the laws because they recognize the value of the law, the responsibility for others inherent in the law, etc. But… well, we all know stupid laws, and we obey them because we’re worried that not doing so is likely to get us in trouble, not because we are genuinely motivated to follow the line of whatever idiots got ‘that one’ passed (or maybe I’m alone in this?).
    In human relationships, enforcing with fear often creates resentment, which then comes out sideways under pressure – leading to long-term conflicts.
    If I were the nanny, I’d resent this. I’d resent the implication that my intentions were not good enough, that my choice to work my hardest to deal effectively and appropriately with the kids I spend my days with is not ‘good enough’. I’d dislike the assumption that fear was necessary as a goad, and that professionalism was not enough reason on even the bad days. Resentment doesn’t tend to feed a good relationship. It may even leak to the kids, who have loyalty to both parents and nanny, and who may sense a power issue they can exploit (if they’re old enough and canny enough).
    And the nanny? She may behave better out of fear, but doesn’t that make one wonder whether there’s other behavior that is less overt that will slip in at increasing levels as the resentment builds up? Will things just not be said that otherwise should have been said? Will communication shut down? It may be Effective, but is it Prudent? It isn’t really true to my core beliefs about who I am, either, so it’s still on the No list for me.
    Not all nannies will be motivated by a desire to do well by and for their charges/family. Nor will all their skills reflect what we might want ideally. Which means we have to grapple with that idea DIRECTLY – communicating about it, including time to discuss what happened and how to manage it the next time, and being accepting of the ups and downs and the learning and development – or we have to be willing to keep looking for another nanny.
    Anyway, that’s how I see it. Right now, our nanny and I have a somewhat uncomfortable relationship, because we ARE getting down into the issues of how to handle behavior and whether something is a problem or just a challenge. It’s NOT comfy. It is real, however, and important. The more I do so, the more the kids respond well to her. The more I show up, wave goodbye and send her on her way without checking in on how SHE is doing, what she needs for support (guidance, ideas, problem-solving, etc.), the less the kids respect her later (I just figured that out while writing this). Just like the more I attend to G’s feelings and needs respectfully, the more his siblings follow suit.
    I’m modeling a lot by how I relate to our nanny. I want my kids to behave well out of a desire to make things work. I want our nanny to desire a useful and satisfying and effective experience. If I use power OVER her with a threat of indirect/covert reporting, I’m effectively ending that option unless she has a huge heart and a constitution of gold, either that or a superhuman inability to resent. I don’t expect to be able to afford Ghandi for a nanny.
    Anyway, that’s where I land, in the end. It is the wrong method for a complex social and business relationship. It doesn’t address the fact that motivation for action affects the quality of action, or that this kind of power structure negatively affects communication. And it’s just not what I want to model to my kids.

  20. Moxie, if I thought intervening would make things worse for the kid then I would notify a higher authority — find the playgroup facilitator, call the cops, whatever.Personally I would not want complete strangers telling me about my nanny/babysitter any more than I want complete strangers telling me how to parent.

  21. Wait a second, JB, somebody called the cops on you for *yelling*? Holy cats! Let she who has never blown her stack at a recalcitrant 3-year-old cast the first stone is my policy on that one…which means, NOT ME. Jeez.

  22. @ Moxiea customer is a customer. The opinions of customers are definitely important. I don’t consider bystanders in a playground customers of me or my hypothetical nanny, though.

  23. @JB- when did it become illegal to yell at your kids? If that’s cause to call the cops, I should be in a lot of trouble.I think I’m on the ‘no’ train, here, too. Intervene on the spot, yes. Nosy Noserson down the street calling in to report my nanny for not sterilizing a dropped pacifier before giving it back to my screaming baby, no.
    Any nanny who’s out and about with her (or his) charges should be well aware they’re being observed; any behavior that’s so bad as to warrant being reported SHOULD be dealt with on the spot with the offending nanny or the police should be called.

  24. @ Julie, couldn’t help but chuckle (“Sometimes it is clear that the two are not at all, in any way, related…..but sometimes, it’s not as clear.”) I am East Indian with brown skin and black hair, but my son has white skin and blonde hair, courtesy of his American dad, so people are always assuming I’m the nanny. (I have no idea how my DNA got so thoroughly suppressed.) Combine that with my son’s loud, spirited disposition that frequently requires my intervention in public places, and I’m guessing I’d be reported as the “bad nanny” quite a bit!

  25. I guess my feeling is… I’d rather drive by the park myself.I do not really trust the community’s evaluation or standards. The potential benefits of the reporting to me don’t outweigh the negatives.
    But then I have been That Parent peering in the back windows of my child’s school. 🙂

  26. Shirky, the kid is the customer. How can the kid speak up, if others don’t speak up for him/her?It sounds like people are thinking that there are only two categories of actions, things that are so bad that police would act on them, or things that are just blips in behavior. I’ve seen too many things that are chronic but that police couldn’t do a thing about. What about someone telling one kid “You’re the smart one. Your brother, he’s not so smart”? Clearly not Abuse, but would I want to know if I were the parent? Hell, yes. What about a babysitter who, day after day, sits in the playground for hours talking on her phone while the child asks repeatedly to be allowed out of the stroller to run around but the babysitter keeps the child buckled into the stroller so she can sit on the bench? I seriously doubt the parent wants this happening, but it’s technically not hurting the child.
    This seems to me to fill in the grey space between someone whaling on their kid in public (and I’ve seen *that* more times than I care to imagine, and each time I agonize over whether my intervention is too much or not enough) and just losing your shit on a crappy day, like JB did and I’ll bet almost all of us have done.
    It would be great if we could all stay home and take care of our kids. But some of us can’t, for hundreds of different reasons. And trusting your gut should be enough, but if the intention is not bad but the standard of behavior is just different, then how can you know?
    while I completely understand what many of you are saying, and Hedra’s point about why people behave the way they do, for me it boils down to protecting kids. I just don’t care as much about the comfort of the adults (babysitter *or* parents) in the situation as I do about the kids who are powerless even to know if something’s off or to communicate if it is.

  27. @sonia…oops! Yes, my point exactly. You just don’t know for sure what the relationship is….one that is familial, or one that is contractual.

  28. “It would be great if we could all stay home and take care of our kids.”See, I’m not coming from this perspective, so maybe that affects how I feel about nannies and what they’re entitled to. I think it would be great if we could all get as much time with our kids as we want, but I also think there are a lot of people who can provide great care to children, care that is in certain respects better than what I can provide (and on the other hand, when I was babysitting 20 hours or more a week, I was a paragon of patience and energy and creativity — some things are easier when it’s not your kid). So I don’t feel as though finding childcare brings with it an endlessly anxious sack o’fear that the nonparental caregivers are someone from whom my child needs protection.
    That said, I went with a center because I think the structure there provides reinforcement that allows caregivers to be their best selves. Not simply an “our eyes are upon you,” but an ability to see yourself through someone else’s eyes, to get a break when you need one, etc.

  29. I should have explained my earlier response. Anyone who spends time at parks or other places where nannies congregate realizes very quickly the level of social drama that can exist between regulars at a playground or swimming pool or wherever. There are class and racial/nationality tensions, and lots of cultural differences at play. Cliques form and judgement is passed. There are definitely women I can think of who would abuse the opportunity to call and cause trouble for other women. Which could ruin someone’s livelihood! It’s a big deal.IMO, parents with kids who are too young to talk about what happens during their day should try to set up opportunities to drop in mid-day, go ahead and use the nannycam from time to time, have days where they hang around the house a little later than usual, etc, as a way to keep a hand in what’s going on with their kids. I would honestly prefer the nannycam than an open invitation to any stranger on the street to call and pass anonymous judgement on me.

  30. Moxie, I think my issue with that gray zone is the question of how many people would actually make the call even then?Yes, I’d like a way to solve that particular issue – the kind of wiggly-mouthed icky feeling but not outright anger/rage/fear. The ‘that’s gonna come back on them later’ issues are not ‘report to the cops’ but yeah, might be ‘call anonymously’… if they remember to do so, later.
    Yes, protect the kids. But I don’t see how this is going to help enough, without doing comparable harm in other ways.
    I don’t care much about the comfort of either babysitters or parents compared to kids, but I think the direct dealing with the discomfort – that is, really working the interview process, getting into the tough discussions pre-hire, being willing to find new care, etc. – that’s uncomfortable but direct and clear and within my boundaries.
    What I’m hearing here is not so much that you wish you could have this for yourself or think it is generally the best idea, but that you really wish the parents whose nanny really upsets you (seeing her repeatedly do that kind of thing) HAD used this service, so you could find a way to address it that they had pre-approved, making it safe to report on the problem for you and the parents and presumably the kids. I’m hearing both your discomfort with the general idea of imposed monitoring, and your genuine pain over being crippled in your need to prevent pain for other kids. We’re moms, our skins are off, we need for our children and by extension, all children, to be emotionally safe.
    I still don’t see this as being a model I can follow, for myself. I do wish I could wave a magic wand and send a message to other parents when they’re not seeing what’s happening – or even if they don’t seem to think anything is wrong with what is happening (as my ex-fiance’s family thought that having one child who was The Smart-and-strong One and one who was The Pretty-but-dumb One was totally normal… bonus that it was by gender, too! ARRRRGHHHHHH! We opted due to long-term family dynamics to be totally subversive and provide an alternate direct model with the kids, which then showed to the kids that there was more to themselves than the labels applied so incredibly overtly by their parents and grandparents…). Um, anyway, kind of a sore place for me, too. The whole sibling labeling issue in general bad, in gender issues, worse, deeply damaging yet not ‘abuse’ by most measures, etc.
    I want a magic wand. I’ll let you use it if I ever get one.

  31. I come from a similar perspective to what Slim just describe. That said, I really completely trust my nanny. But that is in a huge part because she was originally the afternoon babysitter for my daughter and my niece at my mom’s house. My mom would watch her granddaughters in the morning, and then the babysitter would come over to watch them in the afternoon, while my mom worked out of her basement in her house.So my mom was in the house while the babysitter was there. Maybe this is why I feel like we really know what kind of care the nanny provides. In addition, my husband and I take opportunities to randomly work from home, leave for work late, or come home early, like dregina was saying. I don’t feel the need to hear from others how she is doing, because I think I know.
    But I haven’t been hanging around the playgrounds during the day, so I’ve not seen the behavoir that Moxie is talking about in other nannies. I still think a license plate for strangers to report things they think they see is not the right answer.
    @Slim – “I was babysitting 20 hours or more a week, I was a paragon of patience and energy and creativity — some things are easier when it’s not your kid” Isn’t that the truth? Plus I was young and full of energy and didn’t have to deal with the nighttimes. 😉

  32. Another nanny weighing in here. I’d be okay with the idea if it were made clear from the beginning of the job, so that it didn’t feel personal, just a policy. If it were presented once I had been working for the family for a while, it would be a bit awkward — would probably make me feel like I must be doing something to raise their suspicions. Then there could be the feeling of coercion, the feeling that, if I objected, I could lose my job… For me, that’s even more tricky, ethically speaking, than the privacy issues.As many people said, the best solution is to have a nanny whom you trust beyond suspicion, but if that’s not possible, at least this would be preferable to a nannycam, in my opinion.

  33. I’m not in love with this at all.Like carmama said above, it’s weird to me to think of trusting a nanny with my precious baby all day, but then being open to criticism from random anonymous strangers on how she’s proxy-parenting my kid, too.
    Also, and this is probably pinko-socialist of me, I generally get pretty uncomfortable with a lot of the two-tier class structures that arise with respect to nannies. Putting a sticker on someone’s stroller, “how’s my nanny”, I don’t know, it just strikes me as uncomfortably objectifying or something.
    Plus, I can’t imagine myself making that call. I really kind of wonder what kind of people end up calling, and what the positive-negative ratio is, and what ends up happening with that information. That would be interesting to know.

  34. What Slim said.To me the issue is this: “And trusting your gut should be enough, but if the intention is not bad but the standard of behavior is just different, then how can you know?”
    You can’t know, is the short answer, and you’re right that this is an issue. But also, you can’t know what the person who reported the behavior actually saw/heard (vs. what they thought they saw/heard, and context of same), and what that person’s standard of behavior is. Maybe it’d be clear by the way something was “reported,” but maybe not. And the fact that reporters are anonymous makes it worse.

  35. What Michelle, caramama and dregina said. Having a nanny care for my 16-month-old, I get that it is always a leap of faith, no matter how well you’ve researched the person and made clear your expectations.What I am always sensitive to–and I think this is because my mom is a day care worker–is the importance of respect. Affixing a license plate to your stroller seems really corrosive to that dimension of the caregiver-parent relationship. It’s like you’re branding your nanny as distrustful.
    If I had concerns about my nanny, I would plan to stop by the house unannounced during the day or work from home on occasion. I might even take the step of videotaping, although I would tell her that was a possibility when she applied for the job.

  36. Hedra, you got it. I do wish there was a way to let parents know, when they want to know, which anyone who signed up for this service would. There’s no way I’m saying everyone should do this. But to me it’s so much more preferable than nannycamming, or just hiding your head in the sand or freaking out if you have doubts.And the reporting (which is an email, not a call, BTW) isn’t necessarily anonymous. People can use their names. At the very least, they have to log in with a real email, and the site tracks it so if that email makes too many reports it gets flagged as being suspicious.
    Slim, I also don’t have a big ball of fear about caregivers. I wouldn’t even consider this for my current babysitter or the last full-time one we had (who is now working full-time for my best friend because I set them up). But, again, I know too many people who feel like they did everything possible to check references and go with their gut about a babysitter, but still don’t have the confidence they would if it was someone they’d known forever, or a relative, or themselves.

  37. @Slim, @caramama- “”I was babysitting 20 hours or more a week, I was a paragon of patience and energy and creativity — some things are easier when it’s not your kid” Isn’t that the truth? Plus I was young and full of energy and didn’t have to deal with the nighttimes. ;-)”I really think it is the nighttimes. When I look back at my worst parenting moments, they always come when I’m particularly sleep-deprived. Which is why I had to laugh when one of my hubby’s friends was explaining how he didn’t worry about losing sleep when he and his wife have a baby, because they live in a country that gives 1 year maternity leave. Dude, you want the sleep-deprived parent to be the one who goes to work and deals with somewhat rational adults to whom you can later apologize, not the unfathomable baby who won’t understand the apology but will get freaked out by the meltdown that preceded it!
    About the nanny sticker/nannycam thing- I don’t know. It seems like taking care of someone’s precious child(ren) is a special sort of job, so maybe some special sort of performance evaluation techniques are in order. But the idea of spying/encouraging random strangers to spy for me is a little weird to me. I haven’t thought this through well enough to have an opinion, because Pumpkin goes to a day care center that we all (me, Hubby, and Pumpkin)love, and I’ve had occasion to go pick her up unexpectedly in the past and have always been very happy with what I see. I’m just so completely not worried about her care during the day that I haven’t thought about how to check in on her without biasing the results. (Hee hee- that last line makes me think this whole thing is like Schroedinger’s babysitter! Checking on the baby changes the babysitter’s behavior so you can never really know what the true results should be. Sorry, geeky moment. But that made me laugh and I know there are a few other geeks out there who will laugh, too.)

  38. Unlike the majority of commenters, I like this idea because no matter how much I could trust a nanny, nannies are humans and bound to do something that I’d want to know about.

  39. @Cloud: Immediate out-loud-geeky-laugh here, too. Schroedinger’s babysitter! I love it!FWIW on the topic–I quit work b/c I have too many trust issues to hire a nanny. I tried. We tightened our belts, and here I am.
    Still, I vote NO NO NO. Who hasn’t worked at/volunteered at a place where the obvious ‘you’re being watched” and “we don’t *really* trust you” messages make it feel abysmal?

  40. “I know too many people who feel like they did everything possible to check references and go with their gut about a babysitter, but still don’t have the confidence they would if it was someone they’d known forever, or a relative, or themselves.”But again, I don’t think spying solves the problem. It’s how they see their caregiver — as someone who needs to be watched– that is going to trash the relationship no matter how much good news they receive.
    One of the things that drives me crazy is people who say of their dcp “She works for me, she should do what I say.” No. You are working together to do what’s best for your child. If you have different ideas about what that is, you need to talk about it and work out a compromise, and if you can’t, you need someone who’s a better fit. None of that happens if you’re operating out of a sense of fear and mistrust.
    I know women who decided not to WOH because they couldn’t get past the caregiver thing. As long as it works for their family, who cares? But to think that you can bend another person to your will to make yourself comfortable is just whacked.

  41. Another question that is lurking here for me: what about bad parenting? Isn’t it plausible that there is more of that than misbehavior on the part of nannies, if only because bad nannies get fired? Moxie’s examples hit home; I’ve never heard a nanny say, “your brother’s the smart one,” but I’ve heard plenty of parents say this, or its equivalent. If we’re not talking physical abuse, (when) would you ever feel it’s appropriate to say something to a parent–one you know or one you overhear?

  42. @ cloud- OK, I just geeked out. But I had to google Schroedinger and I totally don’t get his cat, at least how Wikipedia explains it. But anyway wasn’t Heisenberg the guy with the uncertainty principle (a good principle when it comes to babysitters, for sure)?

  43. @Susannah- yes Heisenberg had the uncertainty principle, which basically states that you can’t know the location and velocity of a quantum particle at the same time- measuring one changes the other. I wonder what the corresponding things would be in nannies? Behavior with the kids and level of trust in employer? Anyway, Schroedinger’s cat is a little different. It was originally a way to try to highlight some of the wackiness that is inherent in quantum mechanics. There is a cat in a box and you don’t know if it is alive or dead, but opening the box will kill the cat. So you can’t actually ever know if the cat is alive inside the box- in a way, it is both alive and dead. This wacky coexistence of two states happens at the quantum level and that prediction really bugged some physicists at the time quantum mechanics was being worked out- hence the ridiculous cat example. Anyway, the cat also gets used a lot as an example of how the act of measuring can change the thing you’re trying to measure. In this case, the act of checking on the nanny will usually make the nanny behave, so you never really know whether the nanny is behaving before you check.And now, someone, sometime, will google Schroedinger’s cat and end up at this site, and will be pretty confused when the post seems to be about nannies!

  44. when our cat was dying we left her in her bed in the kitchen. When we woke up we made sick jokes about Schroedinger’s kitchen. We’re messed up like that.Say I was a nanny , I think I’m OK at my job, then one day someone says, I’m putting this sign on the stroller that basically tells the entire world how to express an opinion on you. I feel humiliated and ashamed. I hang my sweater over the sign. The end.
    I’m here to tell you that I hate being evaluated and judged by strangers. Many people have felt the sting of strangers judging them. I venture that I’ve felt it a bit more than average: not a day goes by without I can pick up a newspaper and find a quote from someone–Say, John McCain–saying that I’m in fact, not a good parent. He doesn’t know me. He’s just a blowhard with something to prove. But it hurts just the same.

  45. it before, and i’ll say it again that is UGLY chensie dude. i don’t know what that white woman was smoking when she met him, although kate looks like a crackhead herself. she just used him to become a star in the media and it worked, no white sane woman would choose a small dick asian over a black or white man

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