I cannot tell you how many times my wife and I have come home from a night out and found our home even messier than when we left. It’s not necessarily from the usual suspects — our kids — but from our babysitter. All the lights are on, our fridge has been raided, there are dishes everywhere, and not a single toy has been put away. Yikes.

I know what you’re thinking: Time for a new babysitter! But it’s not always that easy. Just because a babysitter might be messy doesn’t mean that they aren’t skilled at taking care of your children. And many parents know that once you find a babysitter who connects with your children and can get them in line, they’re usually a keeper.

But if you want more out of your sitter, or need to set specific expectations, here's how to accomplish that goal.

1. Be Upfront at the Beginning

Like most things in life, you need to set the expectations from the jump. Once you hire a sitter — on a regular basis or just every now and then — explain to them what you want and how you want things done. If the guidelines are discussed at the outset, everyone will be on the same page and it’ll be a simple yes or no decision for the potential sitter if they want to go forward with this setup.

2. Be Clear

Make sure that what you want is clearly defined. Do you want the sitter to clean up the dishes after dinner? Fold laundry? Put away the children’s toys, and put the dirty clothes in the hamper? If so, let the know sitter specifically what you want. Another option is to write out a to-do list if you want to be Type-A about it.

3. They Will Be Rewarded

If you’re going to ask your sitter to perform these tasks or any others, tell her upfront that you’ll pay her extra. How much extra is up to you, but it might be worth at least a few extra bucks an hour to know that you’ll come home to a (somewhat) tidy house.

4. Explain Why

If you are going to ask someone to do something for you, think about what the other person might be wondering. Why? Tell your sitter the truth: Your children like to leave messes behind and if they can please try to tidy up after you’ve left, it would be a huge help.

5. Be Kind

No one wants to feel like they’re being talked down to, so make sure that when you have this conversation with your sitter, you’re making direct eye contact and saying it in a laid-back, easygoing voice. Sometimes we forget how we come across to people, and if you treat your sitter as “the help,” she’ll likely feel diminished and may not want to work for you much longer.

6. Thank Them

At the end of the night when you arrive back home, make sure that you express your gratitude for the sitter, if he or she did what you asked. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, even if the expectations are already established.

Does your babysitter help out around the house? Let us know in the comments.

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