Mar 15, 2009

How do I find a good babysitter?

There is a positive side to the lack of good babysitters … and to the high rates that they charge, as Jerry Toher, managing director of MINT said, "Some parents are devising clever solutions to recruit babysitters such as sharing a babysitter, or teaming up with other parents to form a 'babysitter bank'. Parents want to ensure their children are in reliable hands at all costs but this does not have to mean the much deserved nights out by themselves have to be forfeited." It certainly doesn't.

Babysitting circles are a popular choice amongst some babyworld members like Jill, "I'm part of a babysitting circle but mostly I'm the babysitter for one couple who also have three children, like me. Usually, my husband babysits; since they don't have a TV, he gets loads of work done!"

This situation also works for Lisa, who gets to let her hair down once a month for the cost of a box of confectionary. "We have a babysitting club amongst four friend - we take it in turns to be the babysitter so, once a month, I get a night out and, once a month, I am around someone else's house babysitting… it works well and all it costs me is a packet of fancy biscuits and a small box of choccies."

Babysitters that you don't know

For some babyworld members, however, finding a babysitter presents more worrying issues than monetary matters. The mere fact of allowing a relative stranger into the house is unsettling for many mums like Hannah, "I don't think I'd feel comfortable leaving my son with someone who I would have to pay, not because I would have to pay them, but because the people who I would trust wouldn't expect payment, ie family and close friends. (Though they may expect a pizza on arrival!) I can't imagine leaving my son with a babysitter whom I didn't know, fully qualified or not."

Fredi has never employed a babysitter for her son, after an incident with a childminder. "I don't like the idea of leaving my son with someone i''m not related to. The only exception is a childminder who's a good friend of mine, but I'm having doubts about that now too, as last time he came home with a huge bruise on his head. She told me he'd fallen down the stairs. I am not happy. I get my parents or sister to babysit. If they can't do it, I don't go out."

Ships that pass in the night

It's one thing worrying about where the babysitting money will come from but quite another to never be with your children as a couple due to different working patterns. In another recent survey by IdentifyMe, seven out of ten parents admitted that they split time spent with their children rather than looking after them as a couple. This means that an average dual-income couple spends three or fewer hours together taking care of the kids, as opposed to families where one parent stays at home. Given a choice, parents would prefer to have more time together but the financial and other pressures of modern life means that they are often having to adapt to shift work in order to bring in the much needed money. Babysitting doesn't sound like an issue to them, but being able to spend time together as a family certainly does.

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