Getting the best babysitter at the best prices

A night out used to mean dinner, a
show or sporting event, and of course, a nice glass of wine.

Now for many parents, date night is
more likely to include the couch, Netflix and a take-out.

The question of what to pay a
decent sitter comes up frequently on mums’ websites.

It confounds parents of all
experience levels. Should you pay one rate no matter how many kids you have?
What if they’ll be asleep most of the time you’re away? And what’s the base
rate for our area?

Tricia Seabolt, a 30-year-old
mother of two, searched online last month and found the most common answer.

“Everyone on there wants between
$10 to $20 an hour,” she said. “I don’t know if that’s per kid, but it doesn’t
seem worth it.”

Leslie Toth said, in her
neighbourhood, getting a word-of-mouth recommendation isn’t an option.

“I found people wouldn’t give us
names, because if they had a good one, they’d hold onto them,” she said.
“People were basically hoarding baby-sitters.”

“My own personal standards for
babysitters are very high,” Mrs. Toth said. “I make sure my sitters are people
dedicating their lives to working with kids, whether they’ve worked in day
care, worked as a nanny, they’re in school to be teacher or studying early
childhood education.”

 

Hiring a sitter, questions to ask

Do you have CPR or first aid
certification?

Have you taken any classes in early
childhood education or development?

What are your general discipline
and child care philosophies?

What is included in the rate? Will
you make my child dinner? Do dishes and other light house-work? Will you pick
them up or drop them off? 

Have you taken the Red Cross
babysitter class, which teaches basic skills?

 

Ways to save

Hire a younger sitter. You can
probably find a ‘tween or young teen who charges $7-8 an hour.

Negotiate to pay one rate for hours
when your child is awake and another after they go to bed.

Start a baby-sitting co-op with
friends. Each family in the co-op could agree to baby-sit another family’s kids
for one night a month and get one night a month out.

Go out with friends and leave the
kids at one home and jointly hire a baby-sitter.

 

Where to look

Ask friends to recommend you a
competent sitter.

Call nearby day-care centres and
ask whether any of their teachers baby-sit.

If your place of worship has a
youth group or nursery programme, ask there.

 

For local babysitting agencies, look in the local telephone
directory or go online.