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Finding a babysitter is like looking for Big Foot

Since when did babysitters become an endangered species? I mean, is it just me or is finding a babysitter not as easy as it once was?

Perhaps that’s because I was always the babysitter, and was available to help several of my neighbors, family and friends. Now that I have kids of my own, sitters seem to be few and far between.

Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest child and I was basically bred to babysit… The moment I was old enough to get paid to do it, I made fliers using PowerPoint, and passed them out around my neighborhood. I remember it had a huge trophy on the front: “Award Winning Babysitting” I touted.

Where I got such an exaggeration, I’m not sure. Maybe I considered praises from my mom some kind of gold-star award.

I watched kids in my neighborhood starting when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I remember one time I watched some kids overnight and was so excited when I earned my first one hundred dollar bill.

Minimum wage back then I believe was like 5-something. Not that I paid attention. I was stoked to be making any money. And man, I took that job so seriously. Those kids were my responsibility, and I had to do exactly as their parents asked.

I was really proud of that gig. I think it was the first real glimpse of my entrepreneurial spirit.

Fast-forward nearly two decades… Where’s the new me? There’s gotta be some little teeny bopper dying to make a few extra bucks. Where they at?

Let me rewind a little bit.

I mentioned before how scheduling is everything, and finally I’m getting a schedule down so I can get work done, and have fun with the kids, and it’s one happy little dance I’m trying to keep up with. Well, it was all fine and dandy except my daughter’s new preschool A. Has been a bit of an adjustment for her, and after addressing a few concerns, I think we’re getting settled and enjoying the place, but still, I’ve got my ear to the ground for other options because B. I need two full-days to work. This part-time 8am-3pm, or 9am-1pm mother’s day out program stuff just aint cutting it for this mama. I need a window from 9am-5pm to get the big chunk knocked out (with my husband helping til noon), then I can work the rest of the week after bedtime.

little-girl-slidingI can only do so much with so little sleep.

So, I’ve been searching to see if I can find a mother’s helper to entertain the kids while I lock myself in a room to work. This brings me back to my problem… These said helpers aren’t knocking down my door with homemade fliers.

I gave in and re-signed up for Care.com for a month, hoping it’ll be enough time to compile a new little black book of babysitters that fall within my time frame and price range.

Speaking of price range… Since when did babysitters join the 1%ers in income?

Ok, I kid… Sorta. But I didn’t realize the going rate these days is anywhere from $10/hr to $40/hr. Granted, maybe these people are nanny’s and I know they’re trying to make a living but daaang… I might just hafta put both my kids in daycare and be a full-time mommy to someone else’s kids for what they’re charging. I could afford to drive those kids around in a real nice car and everything.

One of my friends said her sitters from church only charge $5/hr, for date nights, etc. Which I find to be a little low, even for me. But If I’m going to be home and accessible for emergencies, I’d think the minimum wage range of $7-12/hr is totally acceptable. Or am I being stingy? It sucks not having family nearby, and you only want to depend on friends so much before you start to become annoying (at least that’s my fear).

byu-baby-boy

The applicants are starting to roll in (ok, so there’s just two so far, but I have hope there will be more) and I’m crossing my fingers the interviews go well.

I’ve been bugging my friend Emily about this process because she’s been here several times. She recently found a marvelous babysitter and is now swatting off other moms who are checking her out.

A word of advice for moms new to this rodeo… Never steal another mom’s babysitter unless you want war. I just learned this from the master.

If you’ve used Care.com or anything like that to find help with your kiddos let me know! I’m not sure if it’s polite to also email prospects I’m interested in after noting their profile or if I just wait for them. What’s the going rate in your area? Hook a mama up with your knowledge, and I’ll be sure to return the favor once I figure all this out.


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Kel says:

I hear you on this! We always used my parents, but now we live 2.5 hrs away 🙁 I have a neighbor girl from the local Catholic school I used last summer who is now a senior and she also referred a friend/classmate. Her friend now comes 1-2 days a week for 2-2.5 hrs each time. I am here, she plays with the 3 kids for 1-1.5 hrs then helps with baths etc.

My husband works alot of hours since he is a manager at his business (been there 20 years) so this 4-6 hrs a week helps me out alot with 4 kids almost 5 and under. I pay her $7 an hour, but this is because I am here and can help/intervene when needed and besides the 1-2 hrs the last hour to hour am a half I am feeding dinner, doing baths etc.

So maybe ask your church? Hope that helps!

Thank you! I am asking around for some of the girls at church. I’ll be meeting more in the coming weeks so hopefully that will help my stockpile of sitters. haha

S Morgan says:

I was a care.com nanny! I nannied (and babysat) my way through college for four years. All of my jobs came from care.com. In an answer to your question, YOU should contact the sitters! The sitter’s don’t always know if you’re still looking for someone. And often we get so many emails from other mothers that we might not be sending out emails ourselves. Also, sometimes a sitter will be looking for babysitting work and will find some good jobs so they will stop being as active on the site. But usually they’re still open to more! Those are all situational but I mean it all to say you should definitely be contacting them and not waiting.

I was a nanny in San Antonio, TX. Rates are tricky. I charged $10/hour unless is was 2 hours or less. If it was 2 hour or less i charged a flat rate of $30. If it was a weekly GIG i just made a deal with the parents that wasn’t hourly. Like 40/day. or 150/week. If I had to drive the kids around (soccer practice, pick up from school) I also kept an eye on the gas and the parents would reimburse me.

Hope that helps!

Thank you so much for commenting! Thanks to you I’ve emailed a few sitters I was eyeballing and they’ve already responded about being interviewed. In your experience what was good questions for the parents to ask you, and things to get out of the way before starting? Did you ever have a face-to-face interview then not get hired? I’ve got a list of about 8 or 9 responses in a day, and I haven’t contacted the ones I was looking at yet, I’d like to pick a top 3 from this group but don’t want to waste all their time. Did you do several phone interviews too?

Thanks for your feedback! I’m hoping to pay someone $50/day to watch them while I’m home. 2Xs a week. Up to 5/hrs a day. I feel like that’s fair, and I woulda been happy for a gig like that in college… But that was 5-9 years ago. Sheesh, I’m old!

Marcie says:

When I was a kid and babysat in the mid to late 80’s, I only got paid $2-3 an hour and didn’t see it as a job with minimum wage requirements but a way to make a little pocket change and was excited to do so. I too looked on Care.com and I was stunned to see how much babysitters make now a days…maybe I should reconsider my current occupation because I don’t make anywhere close to what babysitters make even with a bachelors degree! My coworker actually babysits part-time for $20/hour. I haven’t hired a babysitter yet because of that reason but need one for a date night now that my daughter is 8 months old. Thankfully, her daycare provider, who I love, has offered to babysit! She may charge more than a neighbor kid, but I know I can trust her and that my daughter knows and likes her. Do we tip babysitters when they are charging so much now?

Trust is a huge thing for sure! I just got an email from a neighbor saying her daughter is interested. I’m really hoping she has experience and references cause it would be nice having someone so close.

J says:

We use care.com. We used it to find our current nanny. It is awesome but you have to go through a lot of the weeding process. We conducted initial email interviews and then in person interviews. Yes, we asked for a resume as well as references and we did call the references. Can’t be too careful when kids are involved.
I liked the ease of care.com and I will recommend it.
The rate is ridiculous but it seems on par with the rates in my area (DC/MD/VA). They do charge a premium for childcare these days which is why I don’t feel guilty about asking for a resume, references and requiring that they also have CPR and First Aid training :-).
Goodluck! My best advise is go with your gut and ask lots of questions. We have a 3-page list of questions that we ask everyone.

I would lOVE to hear more about your email interview and further interview process. I’ll be starting that this weekend and want to know what is important to ask and what isn’t a big deal. It’s weird when starting from scratch. Normally I have some kind of referral.

After the email responses do you do phone then person interviews? I feel like making this formal “congratulations, you’ve made it to the email interview stage…” kind of letter. Haha. Hope we get a few sitters out of this deal!

J says:

I sent you an email this morning with our process. Hopefully, you’ll find it helpful :-).

I can relate on so many levels. We are not near family anymore so we too are relying on “outside” help. I used sittercity.com to find our nanny. What I found (and maybe it’s just me) but when i signed up for the one week free trial there were something like 20 prospective applicants I should’ve written all their info down because once that trial ran out and I got the paid version there were suddenly no applicants that matched my criteria. I was livid. Same results with care.com. We found a great nanny but after some time she decided to go work at a daycare. So we put our son in (a different) daycare. After the adjustment period we all really like it. I am now on the board of directors and my son asks for his friends on weekends. What came about from this is that one of the teachers aids now baby sits for us. This was HUGE for us because not only is he familiar with her (so therefore don’t meltdown for as long when we leave) but she knows him! I didn’t have to explain much except his night time routine and emergency contacts. It’s a match made in heaven (and perfectly ok with our state laws)!

I hope things work out for you soon because we could all use good, reliable, affordable care.

That’s fantastic how that worked out! I may ask some of her old teachers we loved if they could help occasionally on weekends. It’s hard not having family around to help.

C says:

I think it’s nuts when people complain about how much babysitters cost. You’re trusting someone with your children!! My friend babysat for two attorneys that tried to pay her $9/hr. Nuts! The minimum is $10 and if you have a young child, multiple children or difficult children it should go up. If your babysitter is college educated it should be at least $12/hr. I think it says a lot about the quality of babysitter you get. If you want someone that doesn’t engage your kids…then yeah sure spend only $9 but if you want someone who will do activities with them, is CPR trained, etc. then you need to pay them more.

I agree that a college-educated nanny-type should be paid more. But I’m not looking for that. Personally I’d love someone to come over either 1. After my kids are asleep and we go on a late date night. So basically just be trust worthy and able to make sure the house doesn’t burn down. Or 2. Someone who can entertain my kids while I work in another room. I don’t need them to teach my kids how to read or write, just play with them while I finish up some tasks. No college degree required 😉

That said, I still personally think $20-$40 an hour is a lot. College-educated preschool teachers don’t make that much, neither do substitute teachers. If my husband and I were both lawyers though, sure we’d fork out that much for help 😉 $9 an hour sounds cheap, especially if your friend is an adult trying to pay bills.

Sharon says:

I live in Massachusetts. My daughter is 17 and she gets between $10-$12 an hour. If drove a car, then she could charge $20/hour. And the crazy thing is is her rates are considered low.

That’s amazing. I wonder how much my job pays there… haha.

How’s your relationship with her preschool teachers? You can try them. The preschool teachers at my daughter’s center sometimes babysit on evenings and weekends. Wish I could help out and babysit for ya. Our kids would have so much fun playing with each other.

Her new preschool is really small and just a mother/daughter team. They’re ok, but I’m looking to possibly trade her preschool for a helper… Still debating. Thanks for the tip ma!

Amy says:

I think that the cost of having a teenager come watch your kids for a few hours shouldn’t cost you a days worth of wages! When I was a teen I was THE babysitter to get. A lot of families I sat for would either go on a double date and have me watch both families children (both families paying) or call to set up something like “If I pick her up and we go to dinner before the movie I will drop her off at your place if you don’t mind going to the late show” We lived in a university town and the families didn’t have a huge amount of money to be able to go out on dates and pay a huge amount to a sitter but being a good sitter and having lower rates (I was charging something like $4/hr) I always had lots of work and a lot of tax free cash. I understand charging and paying more if it is someone that is living off of being a nanny, I was one before I got married and I did get $16+/hr, but that is much different than having a teen watch your children for a few hrs every once in a while looking for some extra cash.

Sharon says:

Your job would pay pretty good here. In my town (Concord, MA) a fixer-upper home begins at around $600,000. During the height of the housing boom, there were no homes for sale under $800,000. And, getting back to the topic, the more a baby sitter charges around here, the more the parents want that person….

There is a site called Austins Capital Grannies where you can find babysitters and possibly a nanny. I looked on there, actually booked a date, and then felt weird about it and cancelled. Now I have my husband’s little 15 year old step-sister watch my daughter for date nights or my friend’s 18 year old who has a little sister and is AMAZING. I am telling you I came home after a date and the house was CLEANED and baby asleep and she was just chilling there like it wasn’t a big deal. I kind of wanted to just move her into my house as my full-time momma’s helper. Maybe you should find another mom who doesn’t mind taking on a few extra kids, a friend of mine does that sometimes. I thought about doing that, but realize I can barely handle the one I have. Both the girls who do babysitting for me only wanted to charge $5 but I give them $7/hour because it just felt like way too little. Anyway.. hopefully you find someone you feel comfortable with! Good Luck! And if you do find an awesome service please fill us in!

Quiana says:

I think it’s a double standard when people complain about the price of sitters yet also lament that that care-type jobs (often women’s work) is undervalued. I have this conversation with my husband a lot. What a babysitter/nanny/childcare is providing is care to our daughter – replacing me in a way for a shorter amount of time – and to me that is worth paying the going rate for especially for quality care. Here in NYC that means $12-15/hour for one child. In college I made $10/hour and that was ’98-’02 in Boston. I definitely took my job seriously, and formed some amazing bonds with the families I worked for. Now with my own daughter, we’ve rarely hired out her care and I’m thankful to have my sisters here in the NYC metro area to help me when needed.

I feel ya.i think $12-15 in NYC is pretty cheap actually. Or less than is expect. Nannies I’d definitely expect to make more. A high schooler for occasional date nights or help in the evening while I’m working at home?… $10/ hour seems more than fair.

Gabrielle says:

Hey, I actually got my nanny job from care.com back in August. I make ten to twelve dollars an hour depending on how many kids are at home since for part of the day one is in school. I emailed the mom who posted for this job, but I have had other people email me that they were interested in meeting me based on my information and availability. Hope this helps. I also work in a daycare part time and you could ask people who work at your daughters daycare if they would be interested in babysitting.

Melissa says:

Love love love the comparison of finding a good babysitter to trying to find ‘Big Foot’. Love it!

Parents now days can stack the odds in their favor when it comes to finding a good sitter. I can highly recommend this site in order to do just that: http://ReliableSitters.org

There is even a way to do background checks there. It’s easier than finding bigfoot! LOL All the best and Many hugs!

Fidelis says:

I’m a professional babysitter! I work at a preschool here in Mesa, AZ the family I currently babysit for regularly pay me $15 an hour when they aren’t home and $10 an hour when they are home. I met them at a preschool I used to teach at, I was their child’s preschool teacher. So if your daughter absolutely adores her preschool teacher you should ask them if they babysit on the side, most of the teachers I work with babysit on the side and it would eliminate the whole interview process!

I’m looking for someone too. Just for date nights, and then as a mothers helper for the scary postpartum time coming up.

We used sittercity and have TONS of applicants, but very few that seem ok.
I’m totally going to have nannycams up all over the house. I’m scared as heck to leave Rohan with someone besides my mama.

Tamara says:

Ok Jenn,
Now this is something I know something about. In 2010 I started my own nanny finder service after leaving my FT because a wonderful nanny position allowed me to bring my kiddos… Long story short I was the local, personal, and friendly version of care.com.
So where do you find child care providers? College Campuses!!!! Tons of goal oriented young ladies who need a job that allows them to earn a little money while keeping school first.
Unfortunately I live in south Alabama and closed up shop last September. Print out some of those award winning flyers and take them to the career department at your local state college. It will be a lot cheaper than another month of care.com.

Searching online for child care referral services has became very popular among people. Because it is an easy option for both parents and child caregivers to reach their prospectives A simple Google search would give many of those services in the local area.

Jessica A says:

I have never commented before, but read your blog and LOVE it!! I just finished medical school and am going to be starting my training as a pediatrician in June! During medical school I babysat ALL THE TIME! Parents loved it because I was a future pediatrician which made them feel safe, and I loved it because it gave me more exposure to cute little ones. The same could go for nursing students or medical assistants. College girls can use all the extra money we can get, and typically have at least a relatively flexible schedule. I don’t know if you have schools in your area, but it might be worthwhile to check it out if you do! Good luck!!

Nanny says:

Care.com is a safe and great platform for both nannies and those looking for them. I agree with you that the rates are a little bit on the upper side but you can still find good nannies for minimum wage.

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Hi! I’m Jennifer Borget

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I'm a former journalist, and lifelong creator striving to make the world a better place. This is the space where I share my journey in making the most of every day by cherishing our individuality and celebrating our differences.



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