Q & A: Smelly Babysitter

May 27, 2009

A friend asked my opinion on her babysitter the other day. I’m used to this, based on my background and profession. My friend wanted to know if she should fire her babysitter because she smelled. She explained that the babysitter is great with the kids and incredibly reliable, but she has bad body odour. The kids love her, but make comment when she’s not around about the odour, and with the heat we've been having in BC lately, the situation is getting worse, so they have to air out the house when she’s left.

I can feel for my friend, BUT I feel that firing her is the wrong step to take.  I think they owe it to her to be honest and as kind as possible. I recommended having a conversation, mentioning that her care of the children has been wonderful but, "I want to discuss something that's awkward, and my goal is not to offend you, but we've had a noticeable body odor.”

Is she going to be embarrassed and maybe upset? Yes, very likely. Really, body odour is the kind of thing that an individual doesn't realize on their own. But, maybe there is an explanation; the washing machine is broken, she is going through menopause, has had a change in diet. Whatever the reason, I really do feel that if you care about someone, then you should let them know. Really if she was fired and goes to another job she is just going to be dealing with the same issue.

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