Mommy, the babysitter smells funny

June 8, 2009

Have you ever encountered someone with a strong body odour? Imagine if that person was your trusted babysitter. A friend came to me the other day with a question about her babysitter: she wants to fire her because she smells. Her kids are making “stinky” jokes and comments about the sitter, and recently she has had to open the windows to air the house out after the sitter leaves.

I feel for my friend, but I also feel for the sitter. I used to have a stinky dog and I didn't know. Friends had to pretend they didn’t notice, or tell me. I don’t think firing the sitter is the right way to start. The family loves the sitter and she is a great caregiver, but they don’t like the unpleasant smell that goes along with it. But they don’t know how to deal with it otherwise.

I told my friend to have a sit-down with the sitter, and explain her feelings. Start by saying how great she is with the kids, but … “I want to discuss something with you that is awkward. My goal is not to offend you, but we've noticed that you have a strong body odour.” Yes, she will be embarrassed, she may even get upset. Often, someone doesn't know they have body odour, because they don’t notice. There could also be a good explanation for it: broken washing machine, entering stages of menopause, changes in diet.

Whatever the reason, I really do feel that if you care about someone, you should let them know. When it comes down to it, if she was fired and gets another job, she’ll still be dealing with the problem, even though you aren't.

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