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April 15, 2004

Comments

Melissa

We have a babysitting co op in my MOMS Club. It's been wonderful, but mainly for daytime appointments I need help covering. Hair, doctor, dentist.

I know I couldn't do this without babysitters. I love us as a family but I miss my husband on a regular basis. I need the time out with him.

My in laws and I have had a 'falling out' (putting it mildly) and that's probably the saddest thing about it for me personally. They were the most awesome babysitters. Keeping the kids overnight all the time. (They even kept my daughter overnight when she was just 6 weeks old.)

Sniff, sniff...I miss it.

Meg

Alex was just a few weeks old when he had his first sitter. I was riddled with postpartum depression, and I was 850 miles away from everyone I knew. I was ready to hand him off to the first person I saw on the street - which is nearly what I did. Our cat had been missing, and we had fliers up around our apartment complex. Two young teenage girls found and returned the cat. In my depression, I decided that anyone responsible enough to return a missing cat would be responsible enough to watch my newborn for a couple of hours. And they did. That night. I cringe, now, when I think about it. All we did was catch a movie that night, but I can imagine what could have happened in those two hours! Everything turned out just fine, thank God.

Since that time, I've only used friends and family (we moved back home) to babysit until recently. Six months ago, we again moved away from family and friends. We've been out one time, and hired the 14yo daughter of Tai's boss and her friend. We have three kids, and I can't imagine one teenager having the patience and energy required to keep them all in line. Two, however, did seem to do the trick. The unfortunate part is, at $15/hr, we couldn't afford to go out for too long!

Julie

Mary,
That is very interesting. If you could e-mail me the rules that'd be great. I can forward them to anyone who requests them and also I can post a follow-up in the future.
Thanks so much,
Julie

Mary

This is going to be a long post but worth it...

I belong to a babysitting co-op - it's the perfect thing for all of you! You can start it w/just a few people - 3-4 is fine - and can make it as big as you want/need. I think our current membership is 13.

Very basically, this is how it works - everyone starts out w/a certain amount of points - we use 50. Each month, there is a "secretary". If you need a sitter, you call the secretary and say "I need a sitter from 5-10 p.m. on April 30, or from 9-11 a.m. on May 2". She says OK, and starts making calls. She starts w/the person who has the lowest points first, and goes from there. When she finds someone she calls you back and lets you know. If you have 1-2 kids, it is 2 points and hour - 3 or more, 3 points an hour (until they are all asleep). There are various bonus situations - if you feed the kids, if you have to pick them up somewhere, if they are extremely troublesome, bonus points for a weekend sit, etc. After the sit is done, you call or email the secretary to let her know the exact times, etc. and that's that.

There's a ton of favorables here - just some of them are 1)you are not depending on a teenager. This is another mother - an adult, with children of her own. She knows when a fever is serious, when a stomach ache is real, and how to chase away monsters. 2)There is never the feeling of having to ask someone to "do a favor" for you - this is almost like a business. Someone sits for you, and eventually you will sit for someone, and there's never the feeling of someone taking advantage of someone else.

You don't need to know 10 people personally to make this work - start small. It's all about trust. The "founding members" have to trust each other, and each others opinions. When I joined, the first time I had to leave my daughter with someone I didn't know very well, I was freaking out. But, I just had to remind myself - Ann, one of my closest friends knew Kate, and her kids, and would trust her own kids with Kate. Therefore, I had to trust in Ann that Kate was going to be fine with my kids - and of course she was.

If anyone wants any info on it, let me know, I'll email you our rules, etc. I was skeptical when I started, but after 3 1/2 years - I'm an evangelist!

Jenny

We're actually using a babysitter for the first time ever tomorrow night. But we lucked out tremendously. Nathan's in day care two days a week and one of his teachers agreed to babysit for him! So Nathan already knows and likes her, she's got lots of experience, and I don't have to go through the tedious checking of references. And she's no teenager--in fact, she has a near-teen daughter of her own. Of course, all that said, I'm *still* nervous about the whole thing! Nathan's not quite eight months old. I'm curious how old other kids were the first time they were left with a sitter.

Valerie

I'm having the same problem. Although my parents are only about 35-40 minutes away its not always easy to just take them there. For one thing they want us to bring them and then return to pick them up and with gas prices, need I say more? Unfortunately, my husbands family lives 12 hours away. We do have a few friends but all of their kids are young and they have the same problems we have.
The hubby and I actually have an event that we could be going to tonight at the botanical garden where he works but I have no sitter for the kids so I guess we'll just be sitting at home, as usual.

Helene

Good sitters are so hard to find. Teen kids don't seem to sit anymore, like I did when I was growing up. They're either too busy or involved in school or have virtually zero experience - a product of the shrinking size of families these day (the older kids of large families always seem to make great babysitters). We've opted for doing babysitting swtiches with friends when we can, but that doesn't always work. Fortunately we've found a great sister who's a college student and former nanny. We hope she stays in the area for quite some time :)

Busy Mom

We are between sitters as well. As the older kids got older, we could reasonably leave them with their friends but with Busy Baby now it's different. A sitter for 3(that I'm OK with)is harder to find. My parents are in town, but it is really frustrating as they don't/won't/can't babysit for the purpose of us "going out". Another story, though.

Busy Dad is a high school teacher and everyone says, "Oh, I'll bet you can get all the babysitters you want". But, we have actually only used high schoolers twice and they were exceptional kids.

We were spoiled for a long time because Busy Girl's preschool teacher babysat all the time and then she moved away. We don't go too many places, but if we do, we have had Busy Baby's teacher a couple of times and it is working out pretty well.

Robin

I knew I wasn't the only one!! HA! I will make Rich read this tonight! When Lillianna was a baby I only trusted my family and my best friend to watch her. Babies can't tell you if the sitter is mean or neglects them or all that bad stuff parents stress out about. When she was 3 I had the 14 year old daughter of a new friend of mine watch her for a few hours on 2 occasions. She worked out great. Then we moved.
I was taking care of my infant sister when I was 11 1/2 yrs old. Everyone in my neighborhood tried to get me to babysit since they knew how responsible I was. I could vomit thinking some 11 year old was watching my precious 6 year old now!!
So for now,if my mom or sister can't take Lillianna then Rich and I don't go out. I am still looking for a trustworthy babysitter but I am not looking TOO hard.
How can you relax if you're not sure your child is safe?

My sympathy on the loss of your brother. That must have been awful for you.

rachel

Ours is the 15-year-old daughter of one of the other physicists in Scott's department. We don't know her that well, but she impressed me early on by asking to watch B at her house so her mother would be right there just in case. We've used her maybe 3 times since we moved here.

The thing that amazes me, however, is that I know for a fact that I was babysitting at age 12. I remember taking care of an infant, even -- she wouldn't stop crying unless I sang to her, so I sang for the entire evening and was hoarse by the time her parents came home. And yet, I can't imagine leaving the boy with someone so young!

terrilynn

My best friend's daughter (now 17) was from the time he was born Liam's only non-family sitter, but once she turned 16 and got a job, she was too busy, leaving us sitter-less. Our situation is complicated of course by the diabetes; I'm very nervous about leaving him with anyone, and not many folks are comfortable with that responsibility.

Fortunately my mama lives 45 minutes away, and he goes there about once a month or so for the weekend.

Emily

Since we moved this past fall,we are in search of a sitter too.As of now,we don't go anywhere unless it's a school break and the kiddos are at my parents house.
I have a really hard time fully trusting a teenager to watch them,nevermind that I did from the time I was 12.

Lori

We've got a regular sitter -- the 16-year-old daughter of a friend. We've also used her older sister. It's reassuring to have someone I know personally, plus having a relationship with her parents, stay with Emma. But, frankly, we just don't go out without her that often. We take advantage of family being in town (or us being with them) to catch a movie or dinner out now and then, and when we can, we do a kid-swap with friends. It's just way too expensive to pay for the evening out AND pay for a sitter, too.

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