Sunday, September 6, 2009


I am back to school full time now and luckily live close enough to family that they watch my son Lucas during the day. However, when my husband and I go on a date, or to the temple. or somewhere else we don't want to take Lucas we have the hardest time finding a sitter other than family. My sisters can't always watch Lucas when I want them to, and it seems like I can never find anyone else. The girls in my ward don't babysit. That leaves me calling my visiting teachers, cousins, or people who owe me favors to find a sitter, it is so frustrating!

Where do you go to find a competent babysitter?
What do you consider competent?
How many days before you need a sitter do you call?

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

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Britta said...

Finding babysitting is always a frustration for me. I'm left wondering how much I should pay- if I should pay, if its appropriate to make one more stop before heading home and wondering if I have an obligation to repay babysitting or use the same sitter several times.

Because I have more questions than answers I'm interested in what others have to say. But I know what I will teach my children:
babysitting for any church activity should be free (temple trips, committee meetings, choir for example) and if you babysit for a date night you should be happy to recieve whatever the parents give you in payment (even if its nothing, chalk it up to service).

I baby sat for my sister constatly for a while (she was working, going to school and having marriage issues) with no suggestion of compensation on her part. At some points in that experience it would have been nice for her to volunteer to babysit my daughter or take me out to lunch. Basically, being used wasn't something that I appreciated although I did enjoy spending time with my neices. I would say that if you have to use family or close friends for babysitting it may be insulting to offer money but being conciencious of their babysitting needs or offering to buy dinner for them would be a good way to repay their good deed and not burn them out.

Sorry I don't have suggestions about finding babysitters... I'd love to hear what everyone else has to say!

Jared and Delia said...

THis is a great topic. Some moms say they pay $2 for the first child...per hour and $1 for every kid after that. When I was babysitter age I loved working for a family that didn't pay a ton but paid enough. I would babysit three kids (2 infants and a preschooler) from 4:00-10:00pm around there and get about $20. It wasn't much but they were sleeping for half that time. I would also do their dishes, clean the kitchen up and tidy the house so they would keep asking me back and keep paying me that much. Somehow I doubt that I could find young woman these days that would care enough to do that. Fault me if I am wrong.

I have been talking about it with my husband and we like the idea of just having a young woman here after they go to bed. They go to bed at 7:30 anyway. Then we can pay like $5 and let them watch movies and raid our fridge. I would do that now for someone else so I figure it is pretty fair. That way I don't have to worry too much about level of competence in caring for children so much as their ability to just call us if one of the wakes up or if something goes wrong.

I have a hard time trading babysitting as our family grows. When you both have two or more children with some of them that are really young or infants, that makes it a little harder. I don't want to dump five children on them for hours and hours..especially babies. Plus our schedule seems to be too different from other families. We would prefer to go out at night which means that someone would either need to come when our kids are in bed or just before so they can put them to bed. If they have their own kids that presents a challenge. We end up doing a lot of babysitting since most other kids go to bed later than ours but not getting a lot of reciprocation because of that. Okay...I don't know if I am making sense, but I'll just say that timing is always inconvenient when we try to do it the other way around. Does anyone know what to do about that?

JeriLynn said...

I pay my sitter $2 per hour per child. She's 13 and wonderful.

However, recently I happened to befriend a lady who has no children at home and is unemployed. We kind of have this unspoken agreement where I help her run errands (she's carless), and she watches my kids for me. This works out really well.

My brother and sister have a co-op worked out with three other families. Every friday, the families dump their children at one house for three hours. So one week a month you have about 9 children of various ages to feed and entertain, but for the next 3 weeks you have 3 hours with your spouse to do whatever. It's a pretty awesome trade.

JeriLynn said...

That word is car-less, not careless, btw.

On The Go Family said...

We live in the midwest. There are a number of girls in our ward who babysit, but it takes a good 20 minutes to pick them up, which ends up adding almost an hour to our time away from home.

Our solution is finding girls in the neighborhood who can walk over. This means they are not usually members of the church, but it also means I know their families well. Our backyard comes in contact with six other backyards and we have three sitters among those homes. They are my favorites to have over because I know their moms are 40 feet away!

Our city has a babysitting course and first aid babysitting courses that most of the girls take as well. So this definitely adds to my comfort level.

As for long days away from home (like temple trips), we swap with another family. It's not always easy and the swap isn't always "fair" -- we have two kids and the other family has three -- but it has been such a blessing to us. From talking with the other mom, I learned they hadn't been to the temple in almost 18 months because they couldn't afford to pay all day for a sitter (we are a couple hours away from the nearest temple). So on top of getting a day to go with my husband, I feel like I'm really helping the work go forward by letting this other couple get to the temple. We both try to go once a quarter, and that's feasible despite both husbands being in school, working, etc.

We also swap a date night with a family down the street. We normally get 2-3 hours away from home; on rare occasions, the kids will play at my house 'til bedtime, then while my husband puts my kids to bed, I will go over to my friend's house to put her kids to bed and wait for her return. Again, this only happens about every other month, but it's been great to save that money and have a guaranteed date night on the calendar.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I think that you have to examine what works best for you!! Babysitting trades work well for some, going out late at night while the kids are asleep works for some, and having a young woman watch the kids works for others. So just keep the advice rolling and take what you like.

I think that time of your life is also an issue.... By that I mean - can you afford a babysitter? I don't like to pay for a babysitter and I don't mind watching my friend's kids for free (I never expect to be paid). Do you have little kids that you feel comfortable leaving with someone? I personally don't mind leaving my babies with other moms, but I hesitate more if it is someone who doesn't have kids yet (they might get nervous and not know what to do) and with a LITTLE LITTLE baby (less than 6 months) I'm super uncomfortable with letting a teenager babysit. I think we all just have to be realistic too... I know we are always told that dating in marriage is important AND IT IS!! But, it is so hard to get out sometimes and not for lack of trying or effort - it is simply too hard to find someone to watch them sometimes.

To answer your specific questions:

What do I think is competent? I'd say a mother that I trust and know well is always going to be competent. If I were to get a young woman I would like to know her mother pretty well and I'd like to see how she reacted with my kids (though I am not sure how I would do that....).

As for how far in advance I call... depends on the occasion and how long I want to be gone. Sometimes I'll call someone on the fly with 0-2 days to spare (something came up, or it is just for a half an hour or something). But as a general rule, I try to find someone a week in advance.

Our personal dating is a monthly babysitting trade for a date (we watch my friends' two little kids and they watch ours) and then a monthly temple night trade with another couple (again, we watch their kids and they watch ours). But at the same time, we only have two kids right now, so it still works. :) It might not later. We also live very close to a temple so that makes it easier obviously.

Hope that helps!!

Jes said...

I need this too!

All of our families live at least 2+ hours away, and we still really dont know very many people up here(with working and etc) who would be able babysit. Its hard. we just dont ever go anywhere! Ive only been to 1 movie since i was pregnant (my baby is now over a year old!)

Universitybabe said...

I don't really trust teenagers with my children. Not because I don't think I can trust teenagers but because my kids are VERY energetic--good just constantly going. We have had to give up some time simply because the people I do trust are not always available. But I try to be very careful to do things with my hubby and make sure my children know that "bedtime" might not necessarily mean sleep but that it is time to start being quiet and working toward it. That leaves more time for my hubby and I to do a few things together. Because we have 2 cell phones we leave them on like a baby moniter and can at least walk around the block. Not much but at least it is time to be together. Sometime I simply plan around the babysitter if the date is extremely important. When can she do it--good that will work for us. We had no money when we started out and I couldn't pay anyone to watch my kid or two. I got so that I would make a treat to send home with them or for them to have something "special" while they were at our house. Even now, I don't have 20 to blow on a babysitter who is only at our house for 3-4 hours so I make sure a head of time that wether 5 dollars or more or sometimes less they are okay with that. 5.00 buys them lunch somewhere. It might not be much but like has been mentioned above, they are mostly there incase of a fire or emergency that the children couldn't handle. Usually a babysitter brings homework, or something to do or else watches tv or a video while waiting. I have to remind myself that if someone was unhappy with the way it worked out they are responsible for telling me that or else not accepting to babysit next time. When I was a teenager I returned money a few times simply because I really felt that they paid me way more than what I thought it was worth. I do like to pay when I can (I am not that stingy) but sometimes, I just can't afford it. Trading and family are my favorites though. I am finding the people I do use to babysit are very understanding in that sometimes there is money and sometimes not nearly as much. It might not be fair but they understand, and I try hard not to abuse their trust.