Friday, September 23, 2005

It's (not) a family affair

Two nights ago, NSAH and I reluctantly came to grips with the fact that we had no family members available to babysit for us on Sunday afternoon. So we can't go to the Red Sox-Orioles game with Nutso Ranter and her husband. Damn.

Angry Boy is over two now. I think it's about time that we find a non-family sitter. Sigh. OK, here are the two most obvious options for me:

First, there's a mature 13-year-old girl in our neighborhood who has taken a babysitting certification course at the local community center. This girl is really sweet--my husband met her when she was collecting diapers and other stuff to send to Hurricane Katrina victims. Second, there's a university not far from us, and I'm pretty sure I could find a college kid who'd be willing to make some money just sitting around our house watching cable or studying a few nights a month. College kids can always use cash, and like to get out of the dorms.

Any tips for me? Any questions you recommend I ask babysitting candidates? I never really babysat when I was a kid (maybe 3-5 times?), so I don't know the protocol. And what are reasonable rates these days? I know when I babysat, I got $2-5 an hour. I'm assuming it's a wee bit more than that these days.


Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Just finished watching the game -- you've got to go! Can't you take AB? I wish I lived within 100 miles; we'd happily babysit him. Lord knows we've got enough Muppet Shows to keep him happy.

We have bad babysitter karma, so I'm not a good one to give advice. I heard some mothers at playgroup discussing how $12/hr. was considered reasonable, and $14/hr. was a good way to keep the sitter happy. In other words, babysitting pays better than most retail jobs these days...

11:08 PM, September 23, 2005  
Anonymous Trisha said...

I supposed I should introduce myself before I offer a comment. I am Trisha, mom to a 2 year old son (T.) and an engineer in the Washington DC area. I have been reading your blog for several months now and have identified with many of the thoughts you have shared with everyone.

We have no family around to babysit our son, so about a year ago we found a babysitter through There is a fee ($40 if I recall correctly). We found a lovely girl who was between college and grad school (in grad school now) who had lots of experience with kids of different ages. We had her come by for a couple of hours so we could meet her and see how she interacted with T.

We probably did everything wrong, but we didn't ask her a whole lot. We asked about her experience with kids, which she was very forthcoming about. We asked about her day job, and her answers indicated that she had a fair bit of responsibility in that position, which helped us feel comfortable with her decision making abilities. I don't think we asked for references (horrible, I know), but I just had a really good feeling about her. She interacted with T. well, which was important to me. I usually have good instincts about people, and they were right this time. She comes about once a month, and he behaves like an angel for her. I have never had an inkling of doubt about her and her abilities, which I think is extremely important in a one-on-one situation with your child.

We pay her an obscene amount ($12/hour), and we try to be generous. If we tell her that we will be out until 11, and come home at 9:30, we pay her for the time we told her we would be out. She shouldn't be penalized just because we are tired and lame :)

11:11 PM, September 23, 2005  
Blogger Blonde Justice said...

Being not-a-mom, I don't have too much to add here except...

If you call the local college, they usually put out a weekly local job listing. Ask if you get a copy of it, just to see what kinds of things other parents put in their babysitter want ads, and what hourly rates they mention.

Also, I'm a highly skeptical of most people, so I'd advocate for getting some kind of hidden camera thing. Look, even the housekeepers to the stars get caught stealing from them (and they're getting paid a lot of money).

7:03 PM, September 24, 2005  
Blogger Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

Thanks for delurking, Trisha! And thanks for the website info. I will DEFINITELY check that out.

PS, I wish we could beam AB up to you guys for a few hours. He'd love hanging with LG and BB!

BJ, sneaking a peek at the other ads is a great idea. Will have to do that.

9:20 PM, September 25, 2005  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

Hey, APL--you may not like this advice, but it worked for us. Try craig's list. YOu live in a metropolitan area, like me, so I would think you'd get a lot of responses. We put an add in, and got close to 50 responses in the first week. It was easy to weed out the non-desirables, and then we just picked a few to interview. We ended up with a wonderful woman--26 yrs old, living in LA with her boyfriend, loves kids, grew up in a Morman household with lots of kids around so she has tons of babysitting experience. She is incredibly reliable, has her own transportation, and charges $10/hour.
Initially I was a little reserved about this method of babysitter-hunting--but it has really worked out well for us.
I held out on using family only for awhile too, but you really do need a back up. You'll be glad you do!
Good luck.

9:50 PM, September 25, 2005  
Blogger liz said...

Ask other parents in your neighborhood, too. Or ask the local high school.

We pay our sitters $7/hr (16 yr old) & $6/hr (15 yr old). They each started with us at 14 ($5/hr).

Once they start driving, you do have to pay what they'd make at a retail store.

I'd hire the 13 yr old if it were me.

10:33 AM, September 26, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

delurking to say that we have twin girls next door. They started sitting for us when they were 14. They rock and our kids love them.

I think teenage babysitters are great - especially for afternoon events like baseball games. And they are cheaper. And their parents are usually close by if some real emergency occurred.

We also use teachers from the kids' daycare - they are well trained but more expensive. Truth be told, we like the teenagers better.

Get her started now, and you'll have a babysitting resource for several years to come!

10:58 AM, September 26, 2005  
Blogger Yankee T said...

As the parent of a highly-sought-after babysitter, let me tell you what I think you should look for:
1. do they love kids, or are they just looking to make some quick cash.
2. Are they happy? Smiley? Bright-eyed?
3. Ask what they would do in (X) circumstance. For instance, I was babysitting one time and the house caught fire. You might ask what the kid would do.
4. Don't go too far the first couple of times with a 13-year old, and make sure your phones are on, but I would totally use a young teenager.

11:52 AM, September 26, 2005  
Anonymous Genevieve said...

I haven't used a young teenager yet with J. (other than his cousin, who's great, when we're in her neck of the woods). But I babysat all the time when I was 12 and up, and I was a very good babysitter (even though I never took a course - not sure we had them). It makes sense to me to cultivate the neighbor who seems like a good sitter, check her out, and she will grow with AB and be a good sitter for years.

I was also going to suggest sittercity! We haven't used it yet, but I checked it out and think it's a great idea. Look for people who sound like they have experience and love kids.

The first time you have a sitter over, just have her over for a get-to-meet you session, where you stay around (in another room, on another floor) and see how it goes.

We pay $10/hr for an experienced, college-age sitter. Less for a younger and less experienced sitter.

I do ask for references, and I do call them. One person gave a neighbor for a reference, and his neighbor said that he seemed like a nice kid but he'd never babysat for her, she just knew him as a neighbor. The references for our current sitters were wonderful, and that made me feel very good using them. One or two references will do.

12:12 PM, September 26, 2005  
Blogger Mieke said...

First, email me and let me know where you live our BELOVED sitter goes to GW now (sob* sob*) and she sits for families in DC.

Second...I'll come back. Gabo just started crying in the other room.

12:28 PM, September 26, 2005  

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