Desperately seeking reasonably priced babysitter!

January 22, 2013

Thirty-dollars per hour! That is what one potential babysitter was asking to babysit three children plus meal preparation. What?? That is more per hour than I made in a previous life as a marketing freelancer. Perhaps I need to re-think my career choices.

For the last couple of months we have been looking for a babysitter. A local person who can come once or twice a month in the evening to stay with the kids. The last few weeks, I signed up for an online service on a three-month subscription, Canadian Nanny. Initially, when I placed our ad, I received lots of inquiries. As mentioned in a previous blog post, one potential candidate came for an interview on a bit of a frazzled day. Instead of cancelling I decided to go ahead with the meeting. Needless to say, watching Jacob running around spilling an applesauce and my attempt to talk coherently in between managing the kids was less than impressive and resulted in her running out the door. I have yet to receive her promised email with references and availability, but I don’ t blame her.

Another candidate did not even respond when I asked if she would accept a lower rate than she had presented to me. One who was randomly calling me but not leaving messages finally emailed me but indicated the hours were okay for “right now” as she is looking for something more permanent and she has to find someone to drive her over. I responded that I would get back to her.  Today I received a very enthusiastic response but she charges thirty-dollars per hour! She must be an amazing babysitter to be able to charge that much and more power to her if she finds someone willing to pay that rate.

Why is it so difficult to find good quality, reasonably-priced babysitting? We are fortunate to have a couple of excellent sitters. Our previous nanny who loves our kids so much will come any Saturday we ask her. But I feel bad as she lives in Toronto and it is a hike for her to get here for a few hours of babysitting. However, she is planning on getting married soon so her flexibility now will not last forever. Our other sitter is someone who comes to babysit/house clean every Tuesday who we employed as a part-time nanny for nearly a year when I was still working. She loves and can handle our kids, but she also moved out-of-town and has to travel from outside our area for another full-time job.

Mr. L and I decided to try to find another local sitter that we can call for other evenings or possible daytime hours to stay with Jacob. Looking a head to this summer when I am on my own with all three monkeys, I could also use someone I trust to help out on a more regular basis.

The rates for a babysitter are all over map. Some candidates say $11-$12 per hour. Others are inching towards $13-$15 and then you have those (and I’ve had a couple over the years) who pull out the whopping $25-$30 per hour once they find out you have three children. A night out for Mr. L and I is rare enough but to have to pay even $12 per hour, which we figure is a reasonable rate for our area, means a very expensive night out.

Unfortunately we do not have regular access to parents or family members for babysitting. So if we want to go out or to even have a little additional support, we need to find someone to help us.

I am not sure if it is because of where we live some candidates will assume we make a lot of money and quote us these high rates. There are a lot of people in our town who would not blink at these rates but alas, Mr. L and I do not have a money tree in our backyard. We work for every dollar and need to keep track of every dollar.  After all, deciding to be a SAHM means you have to cut back on a lot of things. Not having that extra income does impact the family’s budget.

A little digging and it seems there is no written rate anywhere but lots of discussion on this topic! An article from last summer in the Globe and Mail provides a good starting point and rationale to babysitting and child care rates.

Generally, it looks like $10-$12/hour is a reasonable rate for three children for evening babysitting. Phew!

So the search continues. I am not desperate enough to pay someone thirty dollars an hour for babysitting three kids who are generally asleep within the hour a babysitter would arrive. At least not yet…

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