Babysitters, nannies, non-primary-guardian caretakers of the world, I want to share a secret with you.
Camera phones. And an unlimited texting plan.
as long as I've had a phone on my camera I've taken quick, fuzzy
snapshots of the kids I care for, usually for the purpose of later
showing it to a friend in a "mine are cuter than yours" babysitter
pissing contest. After a few momentary bragging episodes, the pictures
would get buried in the archive of bad cell phone photos my poor SD card
stoically keeps on file.
Very recently it occurred to me that I could do more with these adorable, grainy photos: text them. To the kids' parents.
experimented with this on Jaden. The first time his mom left me alone
with him, she'd only been gone about half an hour when she texted a
"how're you guys doing? Sorry, I'll try not to send too many annoying
check in texts!" Rather than just say, "We're fine," I sent her a
picture of Jaden eating breakfast with all his cars lined up on his
table watching him and an accompanying description of what was going on.
She loved it.
the day I sent her four or five more pictures of other activities we
did: art, a science experiment, trying on my glasses. Jaden's mom
thought it was the greatest. She thought I was the greatest. As one of my housemates pointed out, this is a win-win for parents: they get pictures of their kids being adorable and hilarious, and the
reassurance that they're having a good time and being well cared-for,
without having to be the ones doing the diaper changing and tantrum
talk-downs, and being easily able to carry on with their meeting at work or their romantic date night.
I now regularly ask parents if they have
unlimited texting and if it's okay for me to send them a picture or two
each day. They have all said yes. So far, every parent has been delighted to receive a picture of their
kid swinging at the park, or licking the side of the stroller, or learning how to
throw a ball for the dog, or coated in smashed blackberries.
if you want to delight parents, text them a picture of their kid eating
a bagel or grinning at themselves in the mirror or petting the neighborhood cat. They will think you're
the best babysitter ever. They may even up your pay or recommend you to
their friends and not be able to pin down why they're doing it, just
that they have a really great, fuzzy feeling about you. And all thanks
to your great, fuzzy cell phone snapshots.