Few things are more nerve-wracking than putting the lives of your children in someone else’s hands. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when you leave your kids with a babysitter, that’s why the prevalence of nanny cams and other covert monitoring tactics have moved from humorous water cooler fodder to must-haves for the concerned parent.
If you want to be able to relax and enjoy your date night or focus on the big meeting without having to worry about what’s happening at home, here are the babysitting spy basics you need to know.
1. Nanny Cams/Security Systems
They’re not just for the teddy bear anymore. Originally portrayed in pop culture as a joke, nanny cams have become a staple of babysitting security for parents who want a little extra assurance that all is well at home. And these cameras are no longer simply hidden in stuffed animals; they can be housed within other household electronics from smoke alarms to air purifiers.
For many concerned parents, the next best thing to being there is being able to play back what happened while you were away. In fact, many security systems include cameras with live feeds you can watch from wherever you are, as long as you have an Internet connection. So you can check in on your kids during the break in the meeting without even having to call home.
Not only can a nanny cam provide footage of how your children and the nanny behave when you are out, it can also be used as a deterrent against bad babysitting behavior. With the prevalence of these devices, no babysitter knows whether he or she is being recorded or not, so it’s less likely your nanny will be tempted to give in to frustration or laziness. And with nanny cams coming into the 21st century, parents now have the ability to check in on their kids in real time, thanks to live streaming options and even Skype.
2. Man Power
You don’t have to go high-tech to keep tabs on how well your little ones are being cared for. Many responsible parents utilize the human resources at their disposal by either relying on neighbors to keep a covert eye on things or simply dropping in themselves on occasion. If you are able to pop in during the random lunch break, or between meetings, then you not only get to see for yourself how well the children are doing but you get a true picture of how your nanny is behaving when she expects you to be away.
3. Audio Recorders
While not as revealing as nanny cam footage or a remote access web cam, an audio recording can still provide valuable insight into how your babysitter and children are interacting. Cruel language and yelling are never okay, and this is a great way to determine if your nanny has a mean streak. Audio recorders are also small and fairly easy to hide, just make sure that you have enough battery life and memory to record for the amount of time needed. This is a simple way to discover if it’s time to start looking for a new sitter who has more patience.
4. The (Un)kindness of Strangers
In recent years a multitude of blogs and YouTube channels have popped up that are devoted to recording and telling on bad babysitters. While some sites like I Saw Your Nanny have toned back on the snarky tattle-tell vibe, there are still a plethora of sites on the web that can’t wait to see your nanny slip up.
While the intention of such sites seems to be in the interest of protecting children, more often than not such sources are unreliable and the instances they report on are easily taken out of context or exaggerated. It’s easy to see why sites like Crap I Saw Your Nanny Do on Tumblr may not be the best place to get the real story about the person to whom you entrust your children. Definitely use caution if you decide to consult such websites and avoid getting sucked into the “mean girls” drama that tends to accompany such blogs.
Ultimately, there is no better way to make sure your children are in the best care possible than to conduct thorough screening, invest time in building a relationship with your child’s caretaker, and foster a safe pattern of open communication with your children.
But, for those with younger children who are unable to talk, or if you just can’t shake the sneaking feeling that something’s wrong, what other ways can you think of to keep tabs on the babysitter?
Written by Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more