The horror stories are out there, from parties, stealing to losing the kids. Bad babysitter tales abound.
But parents don't get a pass either. We're turning the tables and giving sitters a chance to spill. From getting stiffed on pay to dealing with drunk moms and dads -- and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
All this week on Channel 3 News Today, we've been talking babysitting. From how much to pay and how parents should do their homework before having someone watch the kids. But we thought it would be a good idea to give sitters their say about jobs gone bad.
As we found out, they had plenty to say.
To get sitters to speak freely, we built a box that would allow them to step inside and reveal their worst experiences. The sign outside: "Babysitter Confidential."
We loaded it up and took it to the outskirts of two college campuses: Kent State University and Baldwin Wallace University.
Once there we set it up and asked students passing by to tell us their craziest babysitting stories.
At first, we got more stares than stories.
But then sitters started to spill.
"It was honestly my first job. I was probably 13 or 14 and the parents came home drunk."
For two days we talked to sitters. The good news, parents: Most had only good things to say. The kids are good, the parents treat the sitters well and pay well, too.
But not everyone is on their best behavior.
"One time I babysat a group of three kids and the parents only gave me $20 for eight hours," said one Kent State student.
Another revealed what happened when she went looking for a kitchen utensil.
"Opened a bunch of drawers in the kitchen, and found a big bag of weed."
She said it didn't surprise her.
"The dad smoked before we came so you could smell it in the house."
Among sitters top complaints? Getting shortchanged and parents who come home later than agreed upon, according to a report published by The Today Show in 2013.
But nowhere on the list did we find "stripping parents." That's what one Baldwin Wallace student told us about her most memorable sitting job.
"This one time I was a babysitter for four kids with one family, and two with another. They went on a double date. Their reservation got canceled so they decided they would go to a club instead. I was supposed to babysit until 10. And they didn't come back until 4."
But then things got even stranger.
"They started stripping in the living room to go to the backyard pool while me and the kids were standing there," she added.
"Yes. They were full-on stripping. It was horrible," she said.
We thought that was terrible and the stories couldn't possibly get worse.
We were wrong.
"I had a time where I walked in on the kid and he was watching porn. And he was 5," said another Kent student, who said it appeared an older teenage brother had been viewing the X-rated content before the younger child stumbled upon it.
Another sitter related her horror story about a dog with bladder issues and the dad who'd had enough.
"I was babysitting this boy and girl one night and the parents came home drunk. Their really old dog was super, super sweet, but was just peeing. I looked a the dad and said: "'I think your dog needs a diaper.'" And the dad looks at me and he goes, 'No, he needs a hole in the backyard,'" she said.
Then there was there was the sitter who claims she was nearly stabbed by the children she was watching. According to her story, the two boys were misbehaving, which meant no dessert. She sent them to bed and then proceeded to fall asleep on the couch.
"One of them had a pair of scissors because that's all they could find. The other one decided to go get a kitchen steak knife. When I woke up I saw the one still coming toward me, the 9-year-old. And the 8-year-old he was trying to cut my clothes with the scissors so that he could stab my bare skin."
Not-so-fun adventures in babysitting. So we wanted to know, did the sitters break up with these families or go back again?
The answers mixed.
Some came to their senses.
"They kept on asking me to babysit and I kept on having to find excuses," said one sitter.
And then there were others who went back for the bucks.
"They did pay me well, so I guess it pays off," said another.
So parents, how can you keep a good sitter happy? Not stripping in front of them is a good start, but a Reader's Digest survey published a list of 20 Silent Thoughts Your Babysitter Has About You, But Won't Say To Your Face.
Among the top ways to make your sitter happy: If you are going to stay out later than indicated, let the sitter know. Most of the time they're happy with the extra hours and money, but they may also have plans that could be impacted.
Also, you don't need to stock the fridge, but do have on hand a few things you know your babysitter likes to eat. Also mention that it's OK for sitters to help themselves to food.
Another plus: Write things down. If you are throwing out details as you walk out the door, it might be hard for the sitter to remember them all -- especially if they're dealing with a child who has some separation anxiety. A handy go-to list is a sitter's best friend.