I’m having the most fantastic time as a sitter but am finding, on certain occasions, that when I arrive I find that there are an excessive amount of personal tasks that the homeowner wants completed. Many times they require travel outside of the home and hardly seem urgent. I’m always willing to go the extra mile and help out but sometimes I feel as though I’m really being taken advantage of. Any advice on the subject would be appreciated. Thanks!
We’ve had sits with a number of responsibilities but we always discuss this during the interview ahead of time so we know what’s what and can decide if it’s something we want to do.
As you gain more experience, you’ll learn what questions to ask during that interview stage. One question is always - are there any other responsibilities that aren’t listed in the posting?
What kinds of things are they asking you to do that take you away from the house?
@hallo44094 Not sure what sort of things you are getting asked to do? I mean I’ve been asked on a sit if I could pop a letter in the postbox but nothing more than that outside the home and garden. Was it made clear you were expected to do things outside the home on the listing or during your initial chat?
Might even be against the terms and conditions of THS but I’m sure more experienced members can advise better.
What kind of things have you been asked to do? If you’re not happy to do the tasks then tell the owner it’s not really part of the service. If it means travelling in your own car then, if you’re unhappy, you should ask for the costs to be reimbursed.
I’m on my 45th housesit and haven’t been asked to do anything that incurred travel, just the normal watering of plants in addition to looking after the pets and house.
Where are you based? I’m based in the UK
@hallo44094 One phrase I quote to many people in my life, including outside of THS, is You teach people how to treat you. I first heard it from Dr. Phil (a psychologist), made famous on the Oprah Show many years ago. You may not know Dr. Phil, depending on where you live, but almost everyone knows Oprah.
There is a balance between always willing to go the extra mile and being taken advantage of. Identifying the second one does somewhat come from experience, but also remembering that you deserve respect. If a homeowner is not being respectful of the win-win philosophy of THS, then it’s time to stand up for yourself, also in a respectful way.
Some ways to manage this better from herein:
The Responsibilities section of a listing should allow you to give an initial assessment of the tasks. Don’t ignore the tone of the owner’s listing either, as you can sometime sense whether you are being seen as ‘being hired’, an equal, or someone they are truly grateful for.
Next comes your application and messaging interaction, where you each get more details, maybe to narrow down whether it seems like a fit.
Many (including me) feel a video chat gives a better sense of whether you are being appreciated. Again, watch for a tone or choice of words that make you feel like it sounds more like a paid position, but without the pay.
Finally, the Welcome Guide should be thorough, and if it’s not, ask for more details and specify where it’s too vague.
These may be my take on ideal steps, but in my experience so far they have made for excellent sits with no surprises. While on sits, I have had requests to do some type of errand or task that wasn’t discussed. They have always been followed by comments that if it’s not convenient for some reason, that they’d understand. I can’t remember NOT doing anything asked of me, but I also feel every owner I’ve sat for has shown me respect. Respect is something we all - sitters and owners - deserve. If you think a request represents excessive responsibilities, then politely explain why you will not be doing it.
As always, excellent advice
Be interested to hear what tasks you’re being asked to do as I’ve not come across this before. I would say if a homeowner asked me to do anything ‘extra’ that wasnt specified in the listing/ Welcome Guide and i didnt want to do it id tell them no. You’ve agreed to sit on prior information you’ve been given so its unfair to throw anything else in and vice a versa.
We found out upon arriving at a multi-week house-sit that the owners expected us to drive several miles ‘every few days’ to pick up their mail from a Post Office box. It turned out they received so much mail, we had to go to the Post Office every other day. If they had disclosed that responsibility in advance, we would have suggested that they have their mail held while they were away. Now we always ask the owner regarding a prospective sit about how they receive mail and what our responsibility would be.
I think this is unreasonable to expect from a sitter. Just to be clear I’m fairly new at this and hoping to do a sit in Europe. My home base is Canada. I’d like to add that I hosted quite a few people when I was on Couch Surfing if you are familiar with it … It’s no longer the same. What I’d like to say is that I picked up my guests at the bus stop and also dropped them off. With one of my guest who wanted to buy a bike I took him in my car to a place I thought might have a good deal on bikes. Needless to say I asked absolutely nothing from any of my guests instead I tried to do make there stay with me enjoyable with no obligations.
BY THE WAY I have never used coach surfing myself for a place to stay. As they say C’est la vie
I did not know about (not a few, not several) the many stairs I would have to climb daily, until my arrival. I wish I had thought to ask. Homeowners should include this info, and in this specific case, pictures of the stair cases would forewarn those of us who don’t want to deal with them. Also, only after I had agreed to the sit, I was told that I was expected to take her to the airport. (She scheduled a neighbor to pick her up on return, due to lateness of the flight.) I told her I would do that IF she paid mileage, which she did reluctantly. I had driven 366 miles to her home. Round-trip mileage to the airport was a drop in the bucket for this world monied traveler.
I had to do the same thing a couple of years ago, which included sending their mail to where they were staying every few days. It was 25 miles round-trip every 3 days. They thankfully left enough money for postage, but not for mileage.
The homeowner where I am taking care of three cats (one of them a bully) has a regular housekeeper, who I was told would not be coming while I am here (unless I called her & paid for it!!). Some have a regular schedule that includes a sitter’s time, which is a blessing. Other homeowners with housekeepers happily had them come at least at the end of a sit, so I didn’t have to do the deeper cleaning they are used to doing. There is no way I can do what a professional housekeeper does, and this woman seems to expect it.
I had a HO tell me multiple times that they “have a cleaner, but she’s on holiday from a week before you get here and won’t come again until you leave”
So you actually don’t have a cleaner, or at least, you don’t have a cleaner who will have any bearing on my life in any way. shape, or form. What a great story. Thanks so much for sharing!