Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Babbling About Babysitting

I used to babysit a lot when I was a kid. I have always loved children and have always adored babies. Babysitting was fun for me, not just a job. I couldn't get enough. I longed to be a mother someday. But now I have 6 kids of my own, and I am starting to wonder what it would be like to get a break.

A break?!

Yeah, that. Jason and I have been on 3 dates since having children. Three dates in 8 years. We have also been to 3 military balls. So that's 6 nights out altogether. Lame, I know. But it's hard to get away.

Part of our problem in getting out together has just been finding a babysitter. The military lifestyle has made it challenging for me to be away from my kids. We don't have family nearby to babysit for us and even if we did, our kids are a lot for anyone to handle. We're often moving to a new area where we don't know anyone. We have to find new a new church, meet new neighbors, and learn our way around a new city.

On the one hand, I don't want to be away from my kids at all. On the other hand, I don't even remember what it's like to go out to dinner and a movie with my husband. But I still feel guilty just thinking about hiring a babysitter.

And then there's the details. Assuming I find a babysitter... How much do I pay them? How old should the babysitter be? Do I need more than one babysitter? Can a teenager handle 6 kids?

During our brief time in Virginia I learned a few things about babysitters. First of all, there are some people who just can't deal with 6 children. Six kids are a lot. Even my mom, who loves her grandchildren, just can't take more than one or two of them at a time. Second of all, homeschooled teenagers that can drive are perfect "mommy's helpers." Third, I know nothing about babysitting etiquette.

I remember reading comments on one of my posts last year in which there was discussion about what amount is a fair rate to pay for babysitting or for a mommy's helper. A mommy's helper is in the home with me, so I would think they would be paid less than a babysitter who is left alone with my children. Even if I hired a babysitter so that Jason and I could go out on a date, my kids would probably be in bed before we left the house. Bedtime with 6 kids is just too much crazy for most people. I would expect to pay more for babysitting during the day when all of the kids are awake and need to be supervised.

When I was used to babysit, I typically got $20 for watching 2 kids for about 4 hours. That included any tip I may have gotten. I changed diapers, put kids to bed, cooked meals, washed dishes, and cleaned the house up. I think that's why the parents all liked me. And I was cheap. I don't think I was ever paid more than twenty bucks. Now, times are different. Mommy's helpers are getting paid $10/hr. I am clueless.

Do you use a babysitter?
How did you find your babysitter?
What age babysitter would be appropriate to hire to watch 6 kids?
What's the going rate these days?
How much do you tip?

Please fill me in!
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