Parents have to get out sometimes. We need alone time, date nights and shopping trips without kids hanging on our hips. That basically means we have to rely on babysitters. We have to leave our children, our precious, beautiful children with people that aren't us. It's always tough.
I feel so grateful to have found some really nice, reliable and sweet sitters. It's tough, not so much with my 5-year-old, but I know the baby is a bit of a challenge. She gets into things and she's just so small. One of our sitters is trained in first aid and child CPR which is a huge plus for this mama. I often leave my little ones with my big ones, but they're busy, so I need back-up.
I wonder what other moms look for, what they hope for, what they expect, and what their deal breakers might be. So, I formed a little panel with some moms from buffalomoms.com. They're a group of smart and savvy mom bloggers.
Buffalo Moms is a place where women join forces to share new places for families to enjoy, all while sharing and writing about the emotions, triumphs, and setbacks that are inevitable in the wonderful world of motherhood.
Meet our four moms.
Nicole is from Cheektowaga - and has two daughter, ages 3 and 4.
Stacey is from Orchard Park - and has two kids, ages 6 and 10.
Jessica is from Amherst and has one child, 3.
Samantha is from Eden and has two kids, ages 2 and 4.
Q: How do you pick your babysitter? Where do you find them?
Me: We moved to a new home about a year ago and I reached out to the Boys & Girls Club and asked the director for some names. It worked out great. I've also met kids at various events around town. One of our favorites we met at the town Easter Egg Hunt. We have a wonderful, helpful family that helps, too. Including my older girls who are busy, but help when they can.
Nicole: We use teachers our kids like from daycare.
Stacey: I have either known the parents of the babysitter or referred to by a friend or neighbor. I prefer to know an adult that serves as a reference. Our first sitters were neighbors. I felt more comfortable with their own parents near by.
Jessica: I generally go with a family member or someone that we trust/have an established relationship with. For example, one of our go-to babysitters is someone who used to work at the daycare we send our son to.
Samantha: We are fortunate enough to live very close to all of our family members, so we haven’t had to source babysitters from outside the family yet. We typically ask either set of our parents to watch the kids for an overnight, or an aunt/uncle to watch them if we’re only planning to be gone a few hours.
Q: What are your expectations of the sitter? Straighten up the house? Dishes? Just play? No cell phones?
Me: I really like my sitters to just play with the kids. It's a nice treat if the toys, games, books are picked up (with help from the kids) but, not necessary.
Nicole: We just expect them to keep the kids busy. Usually we go out toward the kids' bedtime and sometimes the sitter has to do the bedtime routine. We try to keep it really simple.
Stacey: I do expect them to engage with our kids and keep phone use to a minimum. I usually send a text or two to check-in, so putting it away completely isn't a realistic expectation. I count on the house being picked up from playing with the kids. Anything beyond that (dishes cleaned up) is a bonus!
Jessica: My expectations are that they keep my child safe, fed and engaged. Safety is the most important thing to me. I don't expect babysitters to do any chores, etc. I usually make lunch or dinner (depending on the time) for both the babysitter and my son to eat.
And, if we are out past my son's bedtime, I asked that the babysitter put him to bed. I usually leave pajamas out for him to change into and run the babysitter through our nighttime routine before we leave.
Samantha: Since we have family members as babysitters, we expect whoever is watching our kids to be an extension of us. We give them the liberty of disciplining, enforcing our house rules, etc. (although we always know our family will spoil the kids slightly more than we typically do.)
We don’t expect anyone to go above and beyond in the cleaning or tidying of the house. Our kids do nightly chores, so enforcing that is important to us and pretty much all we expect in terms of cleaning.
Q: What age limits do you have for your sitters?
Me: 15 and up.
Nicole: We use adults. Over age 18.
Stacey: Generally at least 15
Jessica: I tend to be more conservative here - but my son is young (3). The youngest babysitter we have used is in her 20s and has childcare experience. I want someone that will know what to do should an emergency occur.
Samantha: We haven’t had to deal with this yet, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anyone under the age of 18, unless we knew them personally (family friends, etc.).
Q: How much do you pay your babysitter?
Me: $10 per hour. Unless it's a relative who refuses to accept payment, then a gift card or something like that. (But after this, based on what the other moms pay, I'm going to have to up my game.)
Nicole: $11/hour is what they ask but we flex based on what they're expected to do. If they are watching TV while the kids sleep, we obviously don't pay as much.
Stacey: Between $10-$15 per hour.
Jessica: Our babysitter's rate is $12 an hour, which we think is reasonable. Family members typically don't ask for money, so we just try to make them a nice meal and find other ways to thank them throughout the year.
Samantha: I remember babysitting when I was in high school for $5 an hour! It seems that today’s rate is at least double that. Since we have family members watching the kids, we know they wouldn’t accept our money, so we usually stock the pantry with food and make sure they have everything they need to be comfortable at our home (or everything the kids will need, if they’re watching them at their houses).
Q: What would you say would be a deal breaker for a babysitter?
Me: When my big girls were younger the babysitter let them watch Jerry Springer. Now that was a deal breaker. I came home to my 7 and 8 year old girls chanting - Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!
Nicole: Wow, since we've only used "professionals," I've never even considered this.
Stacey: My kids are old enough to report back on their experiences. I had one babysitter who spent entirely too much time consuming electronics with the kids. I let another one go because she was never reliable. She would commit to a date and then tell me last minute she could not come over.
Jessica: This is a tough one. We haven't had any issues with a babysitter - but I guess a deal breaker would be the sitter acting inappropriate or unsafe in some way.
Samantha: Not being reliable, inviting friends over without our permission, swearing in front of the kids, etc. Thankfully, we haven’t had to deal with any of that.