At the mercy of the babysitters.

by mssinglemama on April 19, 2008

I am SO ticked. I really want to go out tonight…but I can’t because both of my babysitters are unavailable.

I need to go to one of those babysitter speed dates. Have you heard of these? Mothers gather round and shop for babysitters. Sounds really convenient but makes me feel like I’d be shopping at the pound or something.

But finding a sitter is serious business. He’s usually asleep when they’re over but what if he wakes up? He’s got to know the person. I mean who wants a total stranger running into your room when you’re crying your eyes out and just want mommy?

Recently I found Sitter #1 and broke her in. Paid extra so she and Benjamin could have plenty of bonding time during waking hours. And now, she’s blowing me off because she found another job thanks to my reference. Sitter #2 is brand new. She was supposed to start today but I goofed and thought she was coming tomorrow. Which I still thought when I called her just now.

“Hi Sitter #2! (insert awkward small talk) Are you available tonight by chance?”

“No. I had you down for this afternoon.”

She had me down? She had us penciled in? Sigh. This won’t work. I am so unpredictable.

The one thing I miss about not having a kid, the one thing I miss the most – is being able to run out the door whenever I please. Having trouble adjusting to that one. But it’s a small adjustment to make when you’re usually sleep-deprived and too damn tired to go out anyway.

So, looks like I’ll be home writing tonight or … maybe I should watch a movie, make popcorn, paint my toes and read a magazine. Or maybe I should sleep. That’s a novel idea.

Are there any good sitter placement services that actually work? I’ve seen a few online but am scared to pay for the membership only to find that the sitters aren’t great. Usually I use but typically only get one or two quality responses. The rest are frightening.

One woman actually wanted me to meet her in my city’s ghetto for child transfer! What??? Seriously? Others e-mailed me pictures of them with their zit-faced, scary looking boyfriends.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Oh? And how much do you pay your sitters? And why do people steal sitters? Should I have given her a horrible reference? I don’t know anything about this babysitter stuff. Clearly, I need help.

[Photo Credit: Will You Look at That]

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren April 19, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Back when I started babysitting (I was about 13 years old), I was only paid $5/hour. One summer in high school I was paid $6/hour to watch two kids for the entire summer, but there was one family I occasionally babysat for throughout high school that paid me $10/hour (even after I told them about $5-6 was fine).

So… I would say how much you pay could depend a little bit on experience, but I would probably ask around and see what other people are paying.


Cato April 19, 2008 at 2:06 pm

This is an issue for couples, too. Sometimes, high schools (and junior highs less often) have job placement services where you can get babysitters w/o a fee, and sometimes school organizations will have babysitter lists to raise money for trips, etc. (e.g. bands, sports teams, etc.). Another place to looks is a church/synagogue – sometimes the youth minister will know which kids are looking for babysitting work.

Another source is to ask your normal, but this time unavailable, babysitter for a friend who can do it. My daughters had ‘anti-poaching’ arrangements with friends where they would fill in for each other, but not try to steal the client. It worked pretty well, they were almost always able to get their clients a sitter, so even when they were very busy, they were always the first call for clients. (PS, now grown/in college they’re still friends with some of the parents/kids they babysat for over 10 years or so)

None of this is last minute, but it pays to build relationships over time.


babysitter May 11, 2011 at 12:30 am

I’m a babysitter, and mom’s you should know there are in fact kids out there that love kids and want to spend time with yours! unless you’re in a large city paying more than ten dollars is ridiculous unless it is consistent or for a large family. I have several jobs with families of three and am more than comfortable with 6-9 dollars an hour. Five is minimum for me, but I don’t even think i would accept anything more than $10 an hour unless I was transporting their kids long distances, in that case i would take gas money.
One other place to post is if you’re in a college area on their student job board. That’s how I have made most of my connects, that and through working at the nursery at my church.
Hiring a babysitter to sit there and do nothing is a waste or your money and a waste of their time, always give them a couple chores if you know they’re going to have some down time. That’s the perfect test to see if they’re a keeper!
Good luck moms!


mommypie April 19, 2008 at 5:27 pm

MP’s had two babysitters other than Grammy. The first was the daughter of a friend I know through work. We used her once (and only once). Before leaving to go out, I ordered a large pizza for her to share with MP, so she didn’t have to use the stove or anything. I came home late, starving and looking forward to having some cold leftover pizza … she ATE THE WHOLE PIZZA. I know MP only had one piece at most. And turns out she sat on the couch watching tv and ignoring MP the whole night. To this day I still can’t get over that. She ATE THE WHOLE PIZZA.

The second sitter who we ADORE is one of MP’s old “teachers” from her daycare. She’s awesome. You might try asking your daycare what their policies are regarding moonlighting. Or maybe just ask one of the teachers first … sometimes they’re more than happy to have outside work, but it’s technically against the rules … And if it’s against the rules and you can’t find anyone willing to break ’em, maybe try asking the director if she knows anyone outside you could use.

Both times I shelled out $10/hour. (And paid gas.) Which, after talking to many moms in my area is the going rate. So, needless to say, I don’t have sitters very much. Going out is an EXPENSIVE proposition.

Hope this helps!


mssinglemama April 19, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Wow MP – crazy story! $10/hour is usually what I pay too…and yes, that’s why I only go out a few times a month – if even that.


Matthew Abel April 19, 2008 at 8:29 pm

If only someone would form some sort of club for babysitters. They could call it The Babysitter’s Club. What a great thing that would be. I bet the girls would hang out all the time and have crazy adventures involving secret passages and boys.


mssinglemama April 19, 2008 at 9:39 pm

Matthew! I know!!! Is there a babysitter’s club? Somebody help me!

I think I’m actually going to give up. He had an amazing sitter during for the first 18 months. She watched him 3 days a week and knew him as well as I did.

But, alas, she moved away. Ever since I just can’t seem to find anyone as good. These dispassionate sitters scare me. I’d rather stay home than leave him with a total stranger who is blankly staring at me.


mscheevious April 19, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Girlfriend you just need to do some serious networking with other moms – share lists. Call the neighborhood churches, where you feel they are not like the Branch Davidians, and they’ll gladly post a notice. Also call some of the area prep-high school counselors and have them add you as an “employer.” They are always trying to find jobs their students can do. If you want college age, do the same thing at the university level. It works! Also – the Red Cross teaches a babysitting class. You can post your “job” with them as well. 🙂


sparklingmama April 20, 2008 at 7:28 am

Finding a good reliable babysitter is SO hard. It is something I am constantly struggling with as a single mom. The best babysitter I use right now is also a single mom. She watches my kids when her kids are with their dad. My kids adore her and she is extremely responsible.

I have had a lot of luck finding sitters using You might want to check it out and see if they have sitters in your area.

I can’t find a sitter to watch my 2 kids for less than $15/hour. It’s pretty painful! Which is why I don’t get out much.


Eyenen February 4, 2015 at 7:56 pm

In regards to the San Fran and LA rates, it’s relaly only fare because those cities are some of the most expensive in the country. I was a nanny in a large city and made $18 per hour but I drove kids around (which can be costly w traffic), cooked simple meals, played, snuggled, disciplined, bathed, held when sick or broke an arm on the playground. Everyone (mothers) know it’s the hardest, most precious job in the world. I loved my babies and protected them like they were my own. Basically a good nanny can be expensive but they definitely deserve to be compensated for such a challenging job:) ps-I’ve also had many different sorts of jobs and now I’m a mama myself and still think it’s the most challenging although I look forward to my part time job as well on the weekends:)


singleworkingmommy April 20, 2008 at 8:10 am

Matthew–lol. Would Kristy be the president? (you *are* kidding, right?)

MSM–I second what MommyPie said. Try your daycare “teachers”. Also, what sparkingmama said–other moms. My friends and I have this thing where we switch off watching babies. I watch theirs–they go out; then they watch mine, I go out. It also nice because Son has someone he can play with.


Angie April 20, 2008 at 10:15 am

Ditto sparklingmama’s idea. It is a fortune, however.


mssinglemama April 20, 2008 at 10:44 am

$15/hour! OMG! I thought I was paying on the higher end…sigh.


Elizabeth April 20, 2008 at 12:32 pm

I date a single dad and he uses a service. (Childcare Solutions I think) He pays the girls, and the service. I think it ends up being about $15/hr. (three kids) But it ensures there is one scheduled every Saturday night. (Yay for me.) They have all been good and reliable.


Leslie April 20, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Dang that’s a lot of money! Especially when the kids are old enough to not have to do much other then supervise or watch a movie together! Diapers and all I guess I could understand but geez, maybe I should babysit for single parents as my second job instead 🙂

I’ve always been lucky enough to use family or just not go out so not much help.


Beth April 20, 2008 at 4:49 pm

like the other parents on here, i’ve used the teachers at my son’s school at the going rate of $10 hr. he knows (and loves) them already and i am very comfortable with them, as well. maybe your readers could start some sort of bartering system where we swap kids on alternating weekend nights??


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