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Friday, April 30, 2010

Answer Me This: First Babysitter

Lately it's becoming more clear to me how much I want to establish a "babysitter" for our kids. Because of Kevin's rotating work schedule he's not always available to watch the kids when I have weekly things like Bible study at the church or whatever and it's something that pushes past the kids' bedtime. I hate to have the kids go to their friends' house those times and then keep them up past their bedtime too, and beyond that it's hard to think of people to watch the kids for me (usually because the people I know are at the same event I'm at!). Wouldn't it be so nice to come home from Bible study and the kids already be in bed for me instead of getting home at 9pm and rushing around?? Ahhh... Then there's date nights. Same deal. If the kids are at a friends' house then we have to be back by bedtime, and around here there 'aint much to do in such short time. I'd just love if Kevin and I could have time together on a somewhat regular basis. I think we'd feel so much more refreshed and we'd all be happier for it and our family life would be so much more peaceful. So I want to find a babysitter, but I'm nervous to make that step. To trust some high schooler with all three of my kids. Three is a lot of work, especially for someone not used to the juggling act. And right off the bat I can't really think of any young girls at our church that are quite old enough. A couple friends have referred me to their babysitters, but that just makes me nervous because I don't know them! I've never done this before and don't know how to take the first step! So what's your experience?? When did you get your first babysitter? Who is she and where do you find her? And how much do you pay??


Angie said...

Here's my experience AS a babysitter (not a mommy!) I started babysitting when I was 12--it was usually just one or two kids at that time and the parents were only gone for a couple hours. But by the time I was in high school, I would babysit anywhere from 3-5 kids by myself for very long stretches, putting them all to bed, even doing baths. It never seemed like a big deal to me. I wasn't overwhelmed. So I think it's totally possible to find someone responsible enough to take care of your kids and put them to bed!

As a mom, I understand the difficulty of this. I know for me I struggle with craving comfort and happiness for my kids at all times, sometimes at the expense of what is best for them or me. But God doesn't want us just to make them happy or comfortable. If you go on a date and they cry the entire time, it's ok. It's good for them to learn that you love Kevin and delight in him so much that you're going to, no matter what, spend time with just him. That's a good model. Or if the babysitter doesn't get them all in bed at the right time and one is still awake when you got home, it's not the end of the world.

I have no idea how much to pay babysitters. We luck out in that department....people pay all different amounts here. I used to get 5 dollars an hour for 3 kids. (10 years ago!)

Take your friends recommendations of babysitters and have her over while you're home a few times so she can get to know the kids and so you can get to know her. That will make everyone more comfortable. If your friends like her, you probably will too.

We have a babysitting swap that we do with some people in our church. It sounds like you're wanting to steer away from this but I just thought I'd mention that when we swap kids/dates, we put the kids to bed at the house we're at. So when we watch our friends kids, we put all 6 kids down at our house. Then you don't have to worry about the time and you just transfer them when you get home. Not ideal to have to wake them up BUT it's cheaper and really not that big of a deal once a month! It works well for us!

Alright, gotta get! Hope it helps :)

Abbey said...

Hi Sarah!

Oh, how I can sympathize with you....I have not had the advantage of being able to stay-at-home with the kids (definitely envious of you being able to do so!), so we have had our kids in regular daycare. I agree with your friend Angie, having the sitter come over during times that you are home can help put everyone at ease. One of the avenues that I have found helpful is I always use high school sitters that also work at the day care center or have been through a babysitting course (most local day care centers or hospitals offer this service around here for babysitters just getting started). In those situations, I know the sitter is CPR/First Aid trained, and I have had the opportunity to watch them multi-task and take care of an entire room full of children (plus schedule is just a huge part of most day cares...so it is helpful to continue the same philosophies). Do any local day care providers (in-homes) have older, high school age children? I often times think those that come from larger families or are familiar with the day care environment are easy adapters as well.

Well...lot of random thoughts here, not sure what they're worth - but good luck in getting started! You will definitely appreciate it in the end!

alisha said...

We use a babysitter every now and then when we have something we'd like to do and my parents aren't available to watch the boys. We use the high school girl that lives near us (I used to babysit her!!) and a few other girls we met at church or Mark's school.

I was nervous about using a high school girl too, but I've found that they are carefree and will get down and have fun with the kids - they aren't worrying about anything else (like the housework, meals, etc) so they just have fun. Isaiah ALWAYS says he has a good time with them.

I agree with Angie - it's important for your marriage, for your self, and your kids to get away from them so you can come back refreshed and a better mommy!

We usually pay around $5/hour for the kids. I didn't know what to pay either, but this was the average that people at my work paid. I had a few people say they pay closer to $4 an hour and others that paid $5 an hour plus $10 extra as a bonus. Maybe that's too little considering that's what Angie was paid years ago!! :)

Melissa said...

I am a mommy of 3 little ones, a former nanny (and babysitter), and I help run a nanny placement agency as well. I totally relate to all the anxieties that come from leaving our kiddos with a sitter, but we have been blessed to have some GREAT sitters since our oldest (who is just 3.5 yrs old) was about 3 months old. That is when we had our first babysitter.

We used high school gals and college students, and I like both for different reasons. I like high school age sitters because I can sort-of train them up in the way they should go as babysitters, not only benefiting ME and our kids, but also children and families they will babysit for besides us. And I like college girls for things like taking our kids on an outing--such as, we were moving to a new home when I was prego with our #3, so we had a sitter take our 3 yr old and 20 month old to a playground and to lunch. Got them out of both houses so we could move out of one and into the other by naptime! :)

I recommend putting ALL of your house rules and expectations in writing. I also recommend meeting the parents of anyone who is in high school. We still have babysitters today who started with us at age 16. Our kids know them well and I don't have to write everything down EVERY time we need a sitter. And by the way, we are in the same place you are now with looking at hiring someone regularly for date nights and other outings--as our closest family is 6 hours away and we have three kids 3 and under, so no one else will take 'em! :) Hope all this helps!