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(Mis)Adventures in Babysitting

January 14, 2011

When I was a teenager I used to babysit regularly. For two dollars an hour and unlimited Doritos, I would gladly change diapers and play Candy Land all night long (fun fact: the first time I saw the movie Halloween I was babysitting…on Halloween!). My business model was simple and straightforward: wait for a mom to call saying she’d received my number from another mom.

Today’s babysitters are savvy entrepreneurs who probably earn more than I do in a year. They advertise their services online, charge double-digits per hour and must be booked weeks in advance for the prime nights (i.e. New Year’s). Parents hoard good babysitters like Lindsay Lohan hoards rehab vouchers. I’ve known mothers who stalk responsible-looking teenaged girls at parks after school in the hopes of securing a quality babysitter.

Our first babysitter (then fourteen-years-old) was more responsible than the Serb and I put together: she showed up with a questionnaire for us to fill out and kept a binder full of pertinent information regarding her clients. For three years she babysat for us and we loved her. When she moved away our only babysitting options were visiting relatives, so we didn’t go out after dark for six months.

Recently we dipped our collective toe back into the babysitting pool. The Serb’s fortieth birthday is coming up and I’ll need to do some wining and dining. The first girl we interviewed looked like Lisbeth Salander from the Dragon Tattoo books, which didn’t bode well for us ever again leaving the house without our kids.

This past weekend we met another girl and struck gold – she came with her mother, looks like Emma Roberts, doesn’t have a boyfriend and charges three dollars less an hour than anyone else. The only potential issue is getting her to come back to our house. When she arrived, my kids were scarfing down two-week-old leftover gingerbread house candy. From the floor.

"Hi, I'm here to look after your kids..."

24 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2011 6:32 am

    We have a girl next door who’s of the right age to babysit, but definitely not the right disposition. Every time we ask her to babysit, she inevitably counter offers with an alternate date. Well, I can’t do friday night but I can come Wed. HUH?

    I remember getting $1/hour babysitting and I was glad to have it. My kids are 5 and 2 and the only time I’ve had nights out were when a family member could drive out to help.

    I really hope your babysitter works out. I have had zero luck in my area and have no life after 8 pm.

    • January 14, 2011 9:45 am

      We’ve been living the same life! I swear to you, my husband and I were a little freaked out to be driving around in the dark by ourselves…but we soon got over it 😉

  2. ryoko861 permalink
    January 14, 2011 8:25 am

    Didn’ t it used to be you used the neighborhood teenager girl? No interviewing? She showed up with her homework? Chewed gum, twirled it around her finger? Put your kids to bed then talked on the phone for the remaining night to her girlfriends?

    Now they show up with parents? And a client file? Next thing you know they’ll be doing credit checks to make sure you don’t have any outstanding warrants or unpaid bills and that you’re not running a money laundering scheme.

    I’m so glad I’m out of that era. Then again, I only used a babysitter once…she was my neighbors daughter who was a nanny in New England. My mom and dad would come over but rarely. I think twice we used them. We didn’t go out much.

  3. January 14, 2011 9:30 am

    Love the Lindsay Lohan comparison.

    I sometimes do conflict-of-interest babysitting. Poll my grade 8 and 9 students: who lives close to the school? who wants to babysit my kids? Then I look at what hands are left waving in the air, and I say “not you,” “not you,” “yes, you!”

    • January 14, 2011 9:46 am

      To me that would be one of the few benefits of teaching teenagers…

  4. January 14, 2011 12:47 pm

    sadly…there isn’t one SINGLE studnet that I would leave my children with –

    and I have left them with a homeless guy on the corner once:)

    I have yet to find anyone but family to babysit but…you bet your tailfeathers – on our street there are 21 kids 16 of which are 3 and under….some teenager will be making LOOT if they figure us out:)

    • January 14, 2011 9:14 pm

      Damn – if you lived closer, I’d go there myself – probably put my kids through college with my earnings 😉

    • January 14, 2011 9:19 pm

      I need to read about the homeless guy!

  5. January 14, 2011 1:10 pm

    I hit the gdamn sitter jackpot right after Will was born. I have her for a standing Thursday night – she’ll do whole weekends if available and if anyone else asks her – she says she has to check with me first…..god I love her. And she’s in her 20s so random nights, my sister babysits and we get drunk…..perfect huh??

  6. January 14, 2011 3:08 pm

    What’s the problem? That’s what I looked like when I was babysitting as a teenager. Oh wait, I was never called back twice…

    • January 14, 2011 9:20 pm

      It was a pre-cursor to your childfree-by-choice ways, my friend… 🙂

  7. Maelle permalink
    January 14, 2011 10:45 pm

    Great piece !!! I especially loved you referring to my filing cabinet worth of babysitting stuff i brought over the first time (HINT: recommendation of first aid babysitting training)!!! Im so happy you found a new babysitter and im sure shell come back its not like Luka told her all about his twin girlfriends hhahaha I really miss seeing the kids !! Anyways, if the babysitter falls through I have a very good friend of mine who lives right around where I used to who I’m sure would love to ! Let me know !! xo Maelle

    • January 16, 2011 2:51 pm

      Maelle! Sure – send me her number (it took us a year to find your replacement so a back-up with your recommendation would be dreamy!). But, as you know, no one will come close to touching you! 🙂

      • Maelle permalink
        January 17, 2011 1:46 pm

        Im glad that future babysitters have big shoes too fill hahah but im sure there are tons of great ones :)) Ill talk to her and send you her number !

  8. January 15, 2011 5:14 pm

    I was always babysitting for free since my father had a church, and he would automatically sign me up to babysit for church members…friggin annoying. I remember being so pissed off, I left the house early, went to play soccer and I arrived at their door drenched in sweat – they stared long at me and hurried along. I spent hours in the bathroom, only to come back to the living room to find the kids asleep. I think that was the last time I ever babysat.

    I have never needed a babysitter – I would be so scared I imagine

  9. January 15, 2011 9:26 pm

    I belonged to a babysitting co-op. Total strangers babysitting for each other. My favorite was the little boy who was pooping blood. I couldn’t reach the parents, but when they came home they said, “Oh, he does that.” A little warning would have saved me a heart attack.

  10. January 16, 2011 1:52 pm

    We hit the babysitter jackpot by advertising on kijiji. She’s a dream and the kids love her. No joke about babysitters making more than me in a year, tax free thank you very much. She’s worth it, but sometimes I think I should quit my job and babysit weekends! Tax free earnings, watch a movie, eat some chips… I’d almost rather be doing that than going out 🙂

    • January 16, 2011 2:48 pm

      I LOVE Kijiji – I was searching there for a lawn chair one day and ended up finding a cottage to rent! I would totally babysit if people wouldn’t get freaked out by a 40-year-old woman showing up at their door… 😉

  11. TheIdiotSpeaketh permalink
    January 16, 2011 9:44 pm

    Ha Ha! This is so true! We were blessed in that we had a lot of years where our oldest kids could watch the youngest….. We did have a few occasions where we needed a sitter and I was blown away by what they wanted. $10 an hour for one 8 yr old kid? I don’t think so! We locked his butt in the closet with some puppy pads and a water bowl and he was fine! 🙂

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