As you can probably guess, we’ve spent a fair bit of time talking to parents and sitters about the ‘fun’ that comes with organising a babysitter. Every tiny nugget of information and insight continues to be a massive help in developing bubble, but we thought why should we keep this to ourselves?

So here it is, fellow parents – our top 10 most annoying habits according to the sitters we asked (186 to be exact) who were just too nice to tell you themselves. Is it cheeky or the result of tired people being ‘over-enthusiastic’ on a rare night off? You decide (sad to say, we’ve had to put our hands up to a few) …

1. The ‘Smuggle’ – Ok, this is not the crime of the century – we’re not talking people trafficking here – but sneaking in 2-3 extra kids for a sleepover without declaring it beforehand is definitely a bit cheeky (especially if crowd control becomes an issue);

2. The ‘Math Fail’ – Mental arithmetic is not a strong point for many of us but scrambling round for change, possibly raiding the odd piggy-bank, and still leaving the sitter short has led to many an awkward silence;

3. The ‘Unexpected Pet’ – “Oh, you don’t mind dogs, do you?” is a great question the day before, not so much when the unsuspecting sitter is pinned to the radiator as she walks through the door (this is where I cough apologetically – allergic or just plain terrified, we never heard from her again).

4. The ‘Round Down’ – Time is time and calculating the final price according to the previous round number is not going to score anyone the big brownie points.

5. The ‘Subtle Hint’ – This is strategically leaving a stack of creased shirts on top of an ironing board, with an iron, in plain view (i.e. it looks calculated, rather than a desperate cry for help). *

6. The ‘Bread & Water’ – Leaving an empty fridge during a long sit – “what, not even an oven-baked pizza in 6 hours??”

7. The ‘Late Cancel’ – We’re talking about the serial offenders here, people, although cancelling on New Year’s Eve without any offer to compensate will definitely get you put on the naughty step.

8. The ‘Sleep Guarantee’ – Yep, the odd ‘waker’ as an occupational hazard – instead this is the strong suspicion that the cast iron promise of ‘lights out at 7pm’ was a more hopeful 30/1 shot.

9. The ‘Just One More’ – Well, we’ve all nudged back ‘home-time’ because we’ve got a rare taste of freedom. However, try not to commit some of the other errors listed above to compound the crime, and think about how the sitter might get home afterwards (taxis = money).

10. The ‘School Bug’ – of course, nobody’s saying you shouldn’t go out, but being brave and letting the sitter know the kids have a ‘possibly-contagious’ sniffle will turn you into a hero (even if you feel condemned to finding no sitter at all!).

So, there you have it – “do people really do that?” – yes, they do (well, not you obviously – it’s the other lot) but if we can save you from a tricky situation in future, then that’s what we’re here for. The best insight we got though is that despite the odd ‘epic fail’, babysitters like their families a heck of a lot and love what they do. So grab the diary – it’s time to go out again.

(* Worth noting that a few sitters told us they didn’t mind doing some housework if they are asked beforehand and it’s related to the kids. So, ironing clothes for school the next day is probably ok; but bashing through a week of work shirts… well, good luck with asking the question in the first place!)

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