Notes From a Babysitter: Succeeding at Bedtime

I have a knack for putting other people’s kids to bed.

As a babysitter, I’m often called on to take over from Mom and Dad just after the pajamas have been put on and before the eyes have closed. It’s a tough job, but I have a nearly perfect record.

It takes steely determination to put a kid to bed. And it helps when the kid has no idea how to play you.

Last year I was hired to sit for a couple with a two year old. They said he would be asleep when I arrived, but when they put him in bed he insisted he was hungry, so he was plunked back into his highchair, a bib strapped over his pajamas. I watched as his parents tried to cajole him into eating more, and finally I told them to go off and I have fun. I would take care of bedtime. When they were gone the toddler and I sized each other up. “Are you going to eat anything else?” I asked. “No,” he said, calmly.

So I scooped him out of the chair and brought him back to bed. I chose a short book, sang a quick ditty, gave him a kiss on the forehead, and peaced out. He seemed perplexed by the total change in bedtime routine, but gave nary a peep, and was asleep within fifteen minutes.

What’s my secret? Well, to be honest, it’s steely determination not to show weakness. At core, I’m a total softie, but when bedtime comes I feign complete detachment, and refuse to react to any pleading or wailing. The single-mindedness I display from the beginning of the bedtime ritual seems to hypnotize kids. Sometimes they give a half-hearted attempt to convince me to stay with them longer, but for the most part they’re startled and then resigned.

Admittedly, this isn’t likely to be a good MO for every night. The reason I can pull it off is because I’m not around all the time, so the kids don’t know how to play me. Still, it’s a good strategy, and one that helps me rack up some cash and adoration from parents across Manhattan. Added bonus: when the kids are asleep I can get back to doing my favorite thing, gchatting with my friends while watching crappy TV. Life is sweet.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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