Posted: Feb 25, 2013 4:00 PM
Hiring someone to watch your children is a big deal. We all know how much time we spend on our cell phones: texting, surfing the web or playing Angry Birds. When you hire a sitter to watch your children, what is your rule about their cell phone use? We asked several moms what their feelings are about this hot button topic.

Most of us are more attached to our cell phones than we would care to admit, but how do you feel about your child's babysitter or nanny using hers? Caring for small children takes a lot of concentration — and so does a texting marathon with her BFF. Should you set ground rules with your sitters regarding cell phone use, or just trust their judgment?

Safety first

When you hire someone to watch your child you are paying them to ensure your child's safety. There is a big difference between a 15-year-old watching a crawling 9-month-old baby and a college-aged sitter watching tweens. Throw in a swimming pool, unfenced yard or playdate at the park and the opportunities for your child to be injured while unsupervised increases tenfold.

What about emergencies?

In most emergency cases, a landline phone will be easier for authorities to trace than a call from a cell phone. If your sitter plans to leave the house with your child — a walk to the park or driving somewhere (if the sitter is older) — you may feel more confident if she has a cell phone.

What do moms think?

We asked a few moms what they think about the cell phone issue. Do they allow sitters to use their cell phones while watching their child, or tell them it's against the rules?

They need to focus on the kids.

Anne Bendixen has sons who babysit. She says, "Absolutely not. They need to focus on the kids. They wouldn't be on their phones if they worked another job. They can use the house phone for 911 calls. When my boys babysit they know they are not allowed to use their phones — even when the kids sleep."

Jessica Streit sets the ground rules and has backup too. "I have a rule: No phones while you are watching my kids — and a gentle reminder — my kids will tell on you!"

I feel like how could I tell them not to when I am constantly on my phone around my kids?

Tonya Wertman likes the sitter to have a cell phone for her convenience as a mom. "I like for my babysitters to have a cell phone so that I can check in, get text updates and photos too! As far as them using one for personal use, I can't control that and wish they would wait to play on Facebook or text their BFFs until after my son is asleep, but I doubt that happens. I do always wait to check in until after bedtime."

Rachel Voorhees, allParenting writer says, "I have never mentioned it and don't care about use after my kids are in bed. When they are playing with my kids, I am not sure if they use their phones or not. But really, I feel like how could I tell them not to when I am constantly on my phone around my kids?"

Bottom Line^ If you aren't comfortable with your sitter or nanny using a cell phone while watching your child, you need to lay the ground rules out the very first time she sits for you. While most sitters will focus on your child, sometimes it's better to lay it all out ahead of time.

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