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.

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