Many of us can admit, even if just to ourselves, that taking a sneak peek into other people's lives is hard to resist. The popularity of reality TV--the recent finale of The Bachelorette drew nearly 8.5 million viewers (me included!)--is proof. For most of us, these shows are nothing like our own realities. Maybe that's part of the allure, but who wouldn't also love a glimpse into everyday lives that more closely resemble our own--an inside look at how other families parent, how they feed their kids, whether they worry about screen time and keeping a tidy home, and how they interact with their babysitters and nannies?
For a front row view of American family life, UrbanSitter asked more than 500 caregivers from coast to coast to tell us about the parents they work for. Here's what they told us:
Mom Personalities Differ by City
Ever wonder which city has the "coolest" moms? How about the nosiest, crunchiest or smartest moms? Here's the insider info, according to babysitters and nannies who know them best:
• Atlanta: The Nosy Mom
• Austin: The Always Late Mom
• Boston: The Normal Mom
• Chicago: Super Smart Mom
• Dallas: Neat Freak Mom
• Denver: Grateful Mom
• Houston: Soccer Mom
• Las Vegas: The Cool Mom
• LA: Hot Mess Mom
• Miami: The Fun Mom
• Minneapolis: The Crunchy Mom
• NYC: The Fabulous Mom
• Philly: The Thoughtful Mom
• Phoenix: The Understanding Mom
• Raleigh: The Know-It-All Mom
• Sacramento: PTA Mom
• San Diego: Laid Back Mom
• San Francisco: Got-It-All-Together Mom
• Seattle: Hipster Mom
• St. Louis: Tiger Mom
• Washington DC: Overachiever Mom
Today's Parents Still Got it Goin' On!
Our babysitters and nannies don't see us as the out-of-touch bores we fear becoming. Quite the contrary! The majority of childcare providers think today's parents are pretty cool. Sixty-three percent say they'd be friends if they weren't employer and employee. Nearly a third of sitters took it a step further, saying their employer is role model material and the type of parent they aspire to be. The best role model award, as reported by their sitters, goes to parents in Miami.
We Aren't Likely to Land Our Own Reality TV Shows
Most of us find a comfortable, middle ground when it comes to parenting style, housekeeping and rule setting. We are neither loosey-goosey free-rangers, nor hyper-vigilant helicopter parents. We keep our house rules short and sweet. We aren't neat freaks, but we like things picked up and we tip sitters who are willing to pitch in on the housework. Props go to Dallas parents, who reportedly keep the neatest homes.
Screen Time Rules Don't Apply to Parents
The majority of parents--coast to coast--are concerned that their kids are too attached to their digital devices. However, parents are thoroughly committed to their own social media, especially in tech-savvy San Francisco. Ninety-one percent of parents nationwide "like" Facebook. And just a scant 4 percent claim not to use social media.
When it Comes to Feeding Our Kids, Most of Us Believe in Moderation
Getting kids to stick to a nutritious diet can be tricky. Nearly a quarter of parents throw up their hands and have an "anything goes" mentality about food, while just shy of 10 percent keep kids on a strict diet. The remaining majority aims for a healthy balance. Chocolate cake? Only after you finish your broccoli.
We Find Trusted Sitters and Let Them Do Their Job
While we may be tempted to live vicariously through our sitters, nearly 40 percent of us refrain from getting too personal. We vet our sitters, but ask no more than the basic getting-to-know you questions or nothing at all. Thirty percent can't resist and dig for details, including stats on their sitters' love lives! Atlanta parents take the title for nosiest.
Fortunately, most parents fare far better on fighting temptation when checking in on the sitter. We check in with a call or text only once or twice while the sitter is on the job.
American Parents Embrace Their Sitters with Big Hearts and Big Pocketbooks
To show our appreciation for our beloved sitters and nannies, we shower them with kindness and reward their hard work by tipping well. While cash is always appreciated, many parents go above and beyond, offering their sitter delicious meals, all-expense paid trips with the family, financial assistance with personal emergencies, and taxi fare home. One sitter even got to have brunch with Beyonce!! Overall, the most generous tipping award goes to parents in New York City.
When it Comes to Our Kids' Care, We Have Great Expectations
We all expect our sitters to protect and care for our kids, but some of us are guilty of setting unrealistic expectations. Some of the biggest challenges sitters revealed include washing stinky diapers by hand; caring for a menagerie of pets; and juggling housework, homework, shopping, dinner, and the kids, too. Los Angeles parents have the highest expectations.
While seeing through the eyes of our sitters may not be as captivating as catching an episode of The Real Housewives, it's reassuring to see that we're
all in this together. No matter where we live or what our family looks like, we share some of the same concerns--like how much time our kids spend online or how to get them to eat healthy meals--and face some of the same decisions about how we'll parent. According to the sitters and nannies that we entrust with their care, we're doing a darn good job!