Twelve years old seems to be the magic age. Not only did my daughter and her friends go trick-or-treating on their own this past Halloween, but my newly-minted, almost-teenager has begun to get calls from our friends and neighbors in need of a babysitter.
Needless to say, my daughter is thrilled at the prospect of babysitting, earning a little bit of money and crossing that mythical line that separates the babysittees from the babysitters. She has already booked her first gig as big kid in charge, and it’s a great job for a babysitting neophyte.
Before she takes on the responsibility of big-time babysitting, I want her to complete one of those babysitting courses that the local parks and rec offers. This job offer came in before she could enroll in the class. However, the “client” in question is a kindergarten-aged child of friends of ours in the neighborhood. We will be attending a neighborhood event a few houses down with the child’s parents, so all four of us could be on the scene should an emergency arise.
This seemed like a good opportunity to get her feet wet before she completes her babysitting course. She’s definitely not ready for the big leagues of babysitting – watching multiple children, being in charge of infants or sitting up late into the night. But even baby(sitters) have to walk before they can run.
As we approach the big day, I will be talking with my daughter about her responsibility as a babysitter, and discuss with her how she might address different situations that could come up. I am also looking for babysitting websites and literature to have her read as well, and am ready to answer any questions she may have.
One of the big questions my daughter has is how much will she charge for her babysitting services? I’ll admit I’m a bit stumped at how to advise her on this one. For years, we have paid juniors and seniors in high school around $10 per hour to watch our three children. That definitely puts a crimp in our wallet, but we feel it is worth the cost to have someone we know and trust to handle any situation in the house while we’re out. Over the years, these girls have changed our kids’ diapers, played games with them, fed them, bathed them and put them to bed.
Because it always seemed that we had an infant when we found new babysitters, I don’t recall ever hiring an “inexperienced” or first-time babysitter. And I wouldn’t know what they would expect to earn for their time babysitting. I don’t think they would (or should) charge the $10 that older, more experienced sitters do.
What advice did you give your own children as they entered the babysitting ranks? What is the going rate these days for first-time babysitters? How do you determine what you pay the babysitter? How long does it take for you to become comfortable with a new babysitter before you begin adding responsibilities or increasing the amount of time they watch your kids? Do your children prefer the younger sitters to older teens? If you have boys, would your children prefer a boy babysitter to a girl – or do they care?