Babysitting was such a breeze when I was a kid. I had two younger brothers who never listened to me so babysitting other people’s kids was super easy! Plus I was lucky to have one family who always provided lots of junk food and even take-out!
Back in the day we used to put up a poster at the rec centre to advertise babysitting services. I quickly learned after having my first that kids don’t tend to do that anymore due to safety issues. Parents can be squeamish about having their teen or pre-teen girl’s phone numbers out there!
These days most people find their sitters through the modern word-of-mouth system: Facebook. But just like pre-Facebook word-of-mouth, it can be hard to get the name of the really good sitters, because they are in demand and no mamas want to end up losing their sitter!
I recently found a sitter offered up by her mom. I just put a note up on our local moms group with my cross streets – just like that found a great sitter! Of course – my child is now 8 years old, so there is no crying baby or changing diapers to deal with. At this point it’s mostly playing with toys and knowing when to dial 911.
For babies, most of us used family as the first babysitter. My best friend’s wedding was just a month after my baby was born and my mom watched him… I called home several times to hear him wailing in the background even though mom told me “he’s just fine!”
Most moms tell me they prefer older teens such as 15 or 16 to watch their little ones. A wise mom once told me that younger teens are sometimes a better fit because they take babysitting more seriously – and they may not be interested in everything else they could be doing – like going out or texting with boys/girls.
However if you have younger children and babies, it is more reassuring to use a sitter that has lots of experience and even skills like First Aid / CPR so you know your little is in good hands that can responsibly handle any emergency. No one needs their adult time ruined with worrying. But – you will definitely pay more for those sitters, and they’re usually in high demand!
Once you have a recommendation from a friend or a friend-of-a-friend, it’s a good idea to see how they interact with your child and family with a short visit or two. Make sure to set out your expectations in advance so there are no surprises, including the pay. Some parents will pay per child, some pay more if bedtime/bathtime is involved.
(Personally I keep it super easy when we have sitters… I don’t even enforce teeth brushing. That would require serious danger pay!)