Hi there - I am fairly new to Trusted Housesitters, despite being on the platform for a long time. When I first joined four years ago I had just become a digital nomad out of college, and like many here I wanted to take the opportunity to travel and also be with pets, as I had many growing up and I deeply missed their company. I decided to take up some local sits to build up a good reputation.
My first sit went great, and I got a glowing review. However, my second sit was a disaster, and it was all my fault. The sit with her cat (whom I loved very much) had gone really well up until the end, when I was scrambling to do the HO’s sheets before her return, and in an incredibly dumb overlook of the situation, threw a red blanket I had used in with the sheets. You know where this is going. Needless to say, I was horrified when her sheets came out pink.
I was 23 at the time and had learned from my mother “always wash everything on warm,” and “you don’t need to separate whites.” I don’t know how I had gotten to that point in my life without that happening earlier. Obviously my mom was wrong and it was incredibly stupid.
The HO came home and was understandably incredibly upset. I was so apologetic and offered to pay her for her sheets. I paid her $350 immediately as she said her sheets were worth as much, even though I was pretty broke at the time. She didn’t end up leaving me a review. I was incredibly embarrassed and ashamed and gave up the site for four years, until now at 27, as I have matured considerably in that time. It’s still hard for me to live that down and it took me a while to come back because of this situation.
Have you ever really messed up? I wonder if I’m cut out for this. I’ve been on a couple sits now that have gone really well, but I’m very anxious and paranoid about doing something wrong eventually (i.e. accidentally leaving food in the fridge, as I almost did once, and had to drive 20 minutes back to remove). I write thoughtful cards, make sure the apartment is clean, follow directions carefully, and leave little gifts for the homeowners. But I see so many users with absolutely raving reviews and I wonder if I’m not meant for this.
Thanks, and sorry for the ramble. Just wondering if the community could weigh in with their own experiences.
You are overthinking this. The sheet situation was a mistake that you learned from. It won’t happen again, right? And leaving your food in their fridge by accident (if that were to happen) is also quickly rectified by calling and apologizing/asking them to throw it out. You will do great. Don’t let anxiety rob you of the joy of sitting.
In all my years sitting, we really haven’t had anything happen like that. But even when little things may happen–a broken dish a plant that didn’t quite thrive even though we followed care instructions to the letter,etc…–that paranoia temporarily strikes that it could affect the HO perception of our job. This has never happened. So I can appreciate how this experienced affected you.
It’s okay to acknowledge you made a mistake and maybe weren’t being as mindful as you could have been. Of all the things a sitter could potentially ‘mess up’ damaging an item that can easily be replaced–and that you paid for on top of it–is pretty benign. It’s not like you didn’t notice her cat jumping into the washing machine and then you killed it!
What I would recommend doing is at least for now, considering sits where you feel the ‘stakes’ are lower. If you come across an assignment where the owner stresses how important it is to keep the house clean, they seems really particular about the animal’s care in some respect, there seem to be a lot of responsibilities with which you would not feel fully comfortable, the HO doesn’t strike you as an ‘easy going’ person, the house seems really fancy,etc… you may want to skip those listings.
This isn’t to say that you wouldn’t provide the same level of care and attention to a more lived in home, or you wouldn’t take all your responsibilities as seriously when there is a more seemingly relaxed HO. But you might not feel as stressed in carrying out the ‘job.’
You did not commit a sin. No one got hurt and you rectified the situation. No need to beat yourself up. There’s a song lyric “if at first you don’t succeed brush yourself off and try again” I would suggest you keep trying and apply for sits. To reduce your anxiety, write down a checklist for yourself so that you don’t forget things.
On my family’s very first sit, we were watching 3 dogs. They had an electric fence in the front yard and that’s where the dogs relieved themselves. The middle dog had her bark collar on but ran as fast as she could to chase a squirrel. It took my entire family to chase after her to corner her. Omg I was so scared she was going to get hit by a car. Every night I gave updates and that night was so difficult to tell them what happened. Luckily the dog was fine and thank God my kids are fast runners. There’s no way I could have caught up to the dog.
It sounds to me that you’re an incredibly caring person and are absolutely right for housesitting. I’m sorry to hear that the owner, at the time, wasn’t more understanding. The main thing was that you took great care of the cat and were doing your best to get the house back to what it was when you arrived. I’m not an owner but if I was wouldn’t have taken your money especially as you were broke. A bit mean spirited I’d say which is unusual.
Anyway, you’ve learnt from your mistake as we all do. Nobody died! Stick with it, it’s a wonderful lifestyle!
I can understand why you are reluctant to try again: this specific HO was upset, but they were “only” sheets! Other pet owners would probably have said that it didn’t matter at all, and in that case, you would have pursued your pet sitting adventure without a worry, while still being more careful about the laundry, so don’t let that specific mistake ruin your future experiences as a pet sitter. Her pet was thriving, and honestly, that’s all that matters in the end, as you were a great pet sitter.
Of course messing up sheets isn’t ideal, but mistakes happen and you confessed and suggested to pay for it. As @Smiley said, I am quite surprised that HO took your money, especially that amount! But please don’t let that stop you. It can happen, and it’s part of caring for somebody else’s home: things aren’t familiar, and cleaning products may differ from what you usually use. Please don’t worry about food in the fridge, it’s just food it can be thrown out of consumed by the HO upon their return!
I think if this situation made you a little anxious, you might want to re start your pet sitting adventure by selecting a home that might seem a little more laid back (which you can usually see on pictures) and that might not have 350$ white sheets in the picture, but more coloured sets, so you feel more relaxed about it .
Funny thing is that I have never felt super relaxed about pets sleeping on beds with potential muddy paws and the presence of white sheets or covers! So it’s not just you
Oh my goodness, you poor thing. As a homeowner I would not have accepted your money, accidents happen and you had been caring for the home & pet/s which in itself saves HOs a lot of worry & stress.
Please try and put this incident in a box and close the lid, move on, apply for more sits and enjoy them.
Oh I really feel for you!! I can imagine the horror of seeing those pink sheets!! That was unfortunate but these things can happen and its not life or death! I think that the host was rather ungracious - to accept so much money from you together with your sincere apology and then not giving a nice review for everything that you did well- most importantly your good care of her cat.
If her sheets were so expensive & so precious to her she should not have offered them anyway!! She could have bought a cheaper set for guests/sitters.
Please don’t let this experience put you off housesitting! You sound exceptionally caring and have your heart and intentions most definitely in the right place! I’m sure we all have a story or two to tell!
I agree with others who suggest looking for more laid back sits until your confidence has risen again
Good luck & I wish you many amazing housesitting adventures to come!!!
The way you describe how heartbroken you were having messed up and needing to pay for those sheets on top of everything makes me want to give you a big hug. As many others have said, I would also encourage you to apply for more laid-back sits.
In my opinion HO’s should buy a cheap set of sheets for when the sitters come over.
You say the sit was a disaster- but actually it had gone well until that last mishap - which you rectified. All human beings make mistakes and have accidents . You sound like a great sitter . You took responsibility for the mishap and did what you could to fix it by paying for replacement sheets .
You say that this experience makes you feel stressed the whole time on a sit worried about breaking something or owners
reaction , which I can understand .
The HO didn’t leave a review - they also didn’t leave a negative review. Your worth as a sitter is not measured by one mishap. You have other sits which have gone well .
Going forward, so that you feel less anxious maybe pick a sit where owners seem most concerned about the pet than the house . You can do this by seeing the reviews they have left for previous sitters .
I, like Colin, broke a vase in the first year of sitting.
No matter how experienced you are, mistakes will happen.
On the second day of our last sitting, 13 years later, I kept putting the wrong number in the alarm and next door neighbours had to switch it off. I quickly sent a message to the owner as the alarm was also connected to her phone. She was fine. @snarrkie , please carry on
Hi @snarrkie. I’m sorry you had such a poor experience as your first sit. I broke a picture as I leant on a wall chatting to the HO. I too was mortified and offered to pay for it but the HO said don’t worry it’s a cheap frame. The HO recently asked me about sitting again and was very happy about the way I looked after his cats rather than breaking a picture frame.
I’d suggest having a video chat before confirming your next sit to get a feel of the HO.
It’s funny as I sat in an expensive property with expensive things but the HO stressed the main thing they cared about was their 2 cats!
So onwards and upwards and please stop worrying.
People make mistakes. It’s human. You can only ever do your best, and I don’t agree that “it was all your fault” that this particular sit didn’t go well.
I agree with what other people said - try to find people who are easygoing to sit for.
I will do the same, after a very bad experience where home owners expected perfection of me but had zero interest in my well-being. They were an exception - most pet owners I met have been lovely! But it can take only one bad experience to put you off forever, especially if you are a sensitive person (I am one). Great to see that you have come back!