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Moms Talk: Babysitters - A Hot Commodity

Babysitters can really be lifesavers at times! How do you find yours, and then how do you keep them?

Nothing is better than finding a good babysitter you and the kids love and trust. Unfortunately, if you use teenage girls to babysit, they keep growing up and leaving! 

When our kids were very young, we had a very responsible 11-year-old neighbor come to the house every day at 5 p.m. She stayed for an hour while I cooked dinner, fed the baby in peace, folded laundry or whatever. Since I was home, this is what is called a Mother's Helper, and it was my first lesson into the value of young helpers. 

Do you use teenage girls as babysitters? If you do, what age do you let them start? Do you insist that they take the babysitting course first? Do you pay your sitter more if they drive? What about household chores; do you expect them to clean up any games or toys they were playing with?  Do you expect them to make dinner? How do you feel about them giving your children a bath - especially if they are the opposite gender from your children? Good babysitters are very valuable, do you share yours with friends? 

One important lesson I have learned that I will share is that if you find a good one and you want them to choose you over another babysitting job, treat them well and pay them what they're worth.

Erica Zidel September 29, 2011 at 05:03 PM
Babysitting coops are a truly wonderful way to ensure you always have a sitter when you need one (and to avoid the problem of teens growing up and leaving). If you're interested, you can start or find a coop on SittingAround: http://sittingaround.com ~Erica
Amanda Armstrong September 29, 2011 at 06:32 PM
Babysitters are hot commodities - so much so, friends are so afraid to share them. Now there is a social network for parents to do that knowing they are not giving their sitter away forever, but actually gaining a network of trusted sitters in return. Sitterpals.com is the social network connecting parents, their friends, and the sitters they know, trust, and hire! After all, our friends with children around the same ages and common values are the best resource for finding great sitters!
Amy Simmons September 30, 2011 at 10:21 AM
My sitters have gone in stages--when my children were infants, only close family and friends were trusted with their care. When my children were toddlers through preschoolers, we moved into "older" babysitters--all were what I would consider responsible, experienced (in childcare) adults. I found them on Craigslist or Sittercity.com, had two separate interviews (one with just myself and the other a "playdate" with the kids), and then as our children moved into elementary school and we became comfortable in our community, our sitters are all now high school students either recommended through their parents or other adults, or ones whose parents I knew and asked if they'd be interested in babysitting. The sad thing is that although it's wonderful once these kids can drive themselves to and from our house, that also means that you probably have one year left with them before they leave for college! We do pay a babysitter more who drives, but more because we pay them for their driving time. I do take it easy on sitters and often have a meal already planned out (or ordered)--I want a babysitter to be a treat for the kids, not someone stuck in the kitchen cooking. When I was a teenager who babysat, my mom told me that the best thing I can do would be to do the dishes and leave the kitchen clean, and while not all of my sitters do that and that's fine, those that do are MY favorites, for sure!

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