Babysitter Woes

16 Aug

It is REALLY hard to find a good teenage babysitter.  Can I get an Amen?!

If you find a mature girl between 12- 15, you have to hope she lives close to you.  Otherwise, you’re going to spend extra time and gas driving to pick her up and take her home.  It’s just us here, so lets be honest.  Who really wants to end a date by spending 30 minutes in the car driving the sitter home and driving back.  The person who stays home has to try to stay awake, and the person who does the driving, has to try to keep the romance alive!

And if you haven’t had a great babysitter reach the age of 16, the wonderful age of being able to drive herself over and take herself home… get ready for it because she will no longer be your babysitter.  With 16 comes freedom and a social life.  And her willingness to watch your children on a Friday or Saturday night is completely out of the question.

You may even be lucky enough to get a message like I got at the beginning of the week saying “I have been really busy lately and since I’m starting my Senior year, it is probably only going to get worse.”

We’ve had quite a few different babysitters for the kids, and the differences are like night and day.  I love when all of my nieces babysit!  They always clean my house and do the dishes up!  That is an amazing touch!  Not only do I appreciate it, they make me feel like they really are willing to work for the money they are making.

When my niece babysat in March for us, my house was more clean when I came home than when I clean it myself! Love her!  And wish she wasn’t in college!

We had a babysitter one time who, not only didn’t pick up the toys the kids had played with, but literally left a disaster in the kitchen.  Dried food everywhere, left over food left out and hard in the pan, and trash all over the floor.

Now hear me out, I’m not looking to hire a nanny when Josh and I go out… but the maturity of the girls is clearly shown the first time they babysit if the house looks disgusting when we walk through the doors or not.  Some toys still out or dishes in the sink is NOT the end of the world, nor would I be angry or unwilling to have them babysit again, but there is a line there that should be pretty easy to see.

What I really have on my mind right now though is that we recently just asked a young girl 12/13 years of age to babysit who lives 2 miles from us.  Perfect distance if we need to do the driving.  We find her mature  (she has a little brother whom she has been able to practice on) and we like the idea that her parents are close by should anything really major go wrong.  When we asked her to babysit, she was unavailable the first time, but then asked to be contacted again in the future.  So, I contacted her again this week.  She responded that she feels like 4 kids is too many and she would prefer someone else babysit for us.

I respect her honesty, but look at the situation with her against another situation that also happened this week.

We asked another girl age 12/13 who is just starting out babysitting and doesn’ t have any younger siblings but is only 5 minutes away to babysit.  Her mother wrote me a message and said “She is really excited.  We’ll have her bring a friend, and if anything happens, I’ll be available too.”

WOW!! Look at the difference.

The first girl, (or her mother, if she was interested in helping her daughter get a GREAT babysitting job right down the road) could have said anything like “can I bring a friend the first time?  Can my mom come along?  Could I watch them for an hour or two over at my house first so my mom can see how I do?

Again, let me say, I respect that we have 4 kids, but this girl watched my friend’s 3 girls over 6 months ago, which is how I got her name, so I don’t feel like my four, given their ages, would have been that much more responsibility.  My two oldest can get their own drinks and snack, and help get the other two kids what they need.  Three of my four are potty trained.  No one takes a bottle or baby food.  I actually image it is easier to watch my four at this stage in the game, than two children 2 and under.  Which brings me to another point.

I have a friend who told me that in her town, the teenage girls want to be paid $10 an hour.  That is absurd.  Minimum wage is $7.70 and requires taxes to be paid.   Let alone the fact that daycare centers, PROFESSIONALS, don’t even charge $10 an hour per family.

Most of the time,  when we get a sitter, it is in the evening.  Lets just say we get a sitter from 6-11.  My kids are in bed by 9:00.  So for the last two hours, the sitter can play on the internet, watch movies, or talk on the phone.  I don’t see how that is worthy of $10 an hour.

I don’t really buy into paying a sitter based on the number of kids either.  For many years I did, but let me explain.

Lets look at two examples.  Girl # 1 is watching twin infants who are 6 months old for 4 hours.  And Girl # 2 has a 9 year old, 8 year old and 6 year old for 4 hours.

Who is doing more work?  Does girl two deserve more money because she has 3 instead of 2?

I watch my kids everyday of my life and I would take 2 or more over just one any day of the week!  When they have a playmate, the amount of direct attention they need from me is FAR less! Two is easier than one.  And having Jayden around makes watching Marisa a LOT easier!

If you work at McDonalds, and on Thursday night you have 30 customers and on Friday night you have 50 customers, do you make more an hour on Friday night because you flipped 20 more burgers?

Really, logically thinking here (against everything you’ve ever thought before) aren’t we suppose to be paying the sitter for the amount of time she is investing at our home?  Because whether or not she is watching one of my children or four of my children, I want her to be doing the same amount of work to help them and play with them.

I don’t think teenage babysitters deserve $1 an hour but I also don’t think they deserve $10 an hour either.  I think they deserve whatever the parents can afford to pay because babysitting, unlike a department store clerk, is an act of service to a person(s) who need to get out and refuel his/her batteries.

I just think in a world with greedy, lazy teenagers, we as mothers can go against the trend and teach our girls a better way of having a servant’s heart and gratitude for money of any kind.

Like the mom I mentioned earlier that said “I’ll have her bring a friend and I’ll be available if she needs anything.”

She is investing in teaching her daughter responsibility and not to pass on ways to earn money, while making sure she is mature and ready to handle the situation by keeping herself available.

I plan to take an active role in Marisa’s life as she grows up to teach her how to care for children, how to serve parents who need a sitter (just because she should serve) and not because of the money offered to her, how to look for ways to earn money of her own, and how to come along side her so she builds the confidence and maturity to actually do it successfully!

What do you think?  How much do teenage babysitters deserve to be paid? Should it be significantly more if they have 4 children instead of 2? Should it be based on age?  What should they be able to accomplish while they are watching the kids?  Pick up the house? Do the dishes? Is it really just an act of service?


8 Responses to “Babysitter Woes”

  1. smashesmarie August 17, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    We were just talking about teenage babysitters the other day and how we wish we could find one! It’s tough because we hate to poach another family’s sitter, but how else do we know if she is reliable and good with children? When I was thirteen, I babysat my four cousins for my aunt and uncle. I had two younger siblings at the time, and momma dawn made sure to show me how to care for them! It is a mom’s responsibility to her daughter!! They were 1, 3, 5, 7. They usually paid me 20 dollars for an evening. I was very grateful and loved being able to do it to help my family. In today’s times, children are so spoiled that many do not look at sitting as an act of service. Here’s hoping more parents try to instill those values in their daughters!!

    • kaylagulick August 17, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      Thanks for sharing that you watched 4 kids. I’ve had people give us a hard time in the past saying that we should split them up because 4 is too many.

      I hope you find a good sitter over there!! I would recommend my nieces, because they are lovely… but they’ve reached the 16 and up stage : (

  2. Beth August 17, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    It is amazing how things have changed. I babysat all summer for my cousins. I cleaned my aunt and uncle house; how I was expected to clean when my mom asked. I have been fortunate, though, when it comes to babysitters. When we were in Sylvania we had 2 teens within walking distance that fought over who’s turn it was. We were straight forward with them. We told them that we had to budget babysitting and date night money; and how much we were going to pay them; upfront. They never acted disappointed and my house was never in major disarray and the kids were in bed! We had to hire a sitter while we were moving because Tyson and I both had to go back and finish things at the house in Sylvania. We got a teen from our church; who actually approached us about wanting to babysit. When Tyson got back he handed her the money and she denied it because we weren’t on a date. I am telling you these stories because there are good girls out there with hearts of service; that their parents have instilled in them! Kayla, maybe you have found that girl! I hope all goes well with her!

    • kaylagulick August 17, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      WOW Beth!! Good for you!!

      Thanks for sharing your success! Maybe other teenage girls will read your comment and be challenged : )

  3. writerwannabe763 September 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    It’s been a long time since I needed sitters but $10 I believe is out of line. I think the number of children (within reason) should not be the issue either…but instead the amount of work involved. For example when we went out we usually had given the children their dinner, and bathed and had them ready for bed. The babysitters had to oversee them until they went to bed and perhaps a snack etc. They were not supposed to have anyone over while babysitting unless they asked us first for 1 friend only…usually none I wanted them to concentrate on listening for the children and not get involved with their friend. I do think they should pick up toys etc. and put dishes at least in sink or dishwasher. I wouldn’t expect them though to tidy up dishes from our dinner. …just some thoughts…Diane

    • kaylagulick September 6, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

      Thank you for your thoughts! I wish more girls were being taught some of these things. It almost feels like the girls now-a-days think that *they* are hiring you instead of you hiring them!

  4. Scott Sandmeyer September 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    Thanks for reading Mocking God in my Principalities and Powers blog.

    • kaylagulick September 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

      Absolutely! Thanks for checking out my page as well. I really appreciate the blog community.

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