Finding Low Cost Babysitting ServicesAlthough I only have two children now, it often seems I’ve been a parent forever. My son is six; my daughter is two. While I enjoy their company, I sometimes need to be alone for personal appointments and sometimes simply need a break. Finding babysitters, especially on weekdays, is difficult and expensive. Finding sitters appropriate for specific situations is another challenge. You’ll need a different level of maturity and skill from a sitter to watch children for an hour while you visit a hairdresser than you will for one to watch children all day while you’re twenty miles from home.
Mother’s Helpers from the NeighborhoodSometimes I need help watching the children when I’m home preparing for holidays, catching up with home business obligations, or simply relaxing in my garden. During these times I hire one of two young girls who live nearby. One is eleven; the other twelve. They are lovely well behaved girls who are fond of our children and often drop by simply to play with them. Their parents agreed to let them work as mother’s helper when I’m home. I pay each $5.00 an hour for what usually amounts to two or three hours. I alternate and hire only one at a time, but they usually arrive together. I’m always there to attend to emergencies. They provide entertainment and watchfulness, freeing me to attend to obligations or hobbies with minimal interference.
Share Babysitting with NeighborsIf you’re lucky enough to have a stay-at-home mom nearby, a golden opportunity presents itself. My neighbor and I have a longstanding agreement that, if I’m home and she needs to run out for an hour or so for any reason, I’ll watch her three children in my home, and if necessary she’ll watch my two in her home. There is no cost involved, and it has resulted in our establishing a warm and close friendship. We have, on several occasions, watched one another’s children for a weekend while the other enjoyed a weekend reconnecting with hubby without the kids. This kind of arrangement is perfect, but requires reciprocity. You need to be their when needed and vice versa. Without reciprocity, the arrangement will fall apart quickly.
Consider a Babysitting CooperativeI’ve been fortunate to find reliable babysitters in my neighborhood and my family, but not everyone is so lucky. Before resigning yourself to paying for expensive child care, check local babysitting cooperatives. I looked into one at my local church when I was first pregnant, but never joined. Churches, hospitals, and women’s clubs are good places to look. If they don’t have a club, they might know where one is located. In a cooperative, mom’s trade information about their schedules and when they can babysit. You simply need to make contact with a mom to see if she is free when you need a sitter. Remember, this is a cooperative and you will be a member expected to reciprocate. If you use the service, expect to provide equivalent service to others in the cooperative.
Family Members Living NearbyDo you have immediate family living close by? If you do, especially if it’s grandparents, you’ll undoubtedly have actual offers of babysitting services on weekends. Take advantage of their proximity, but don’t abuse it. If their home is set up to accommodate all of your children, including infant sleeping, let them babysit in the comfort of their own home. If they cannot accommodate the children adequately without inconvenience, prepare an area in your home where they can be comfortable while babysitting at your home. This is often the best way to enjoy an evening out or a weekend away, knowing that grandpa and grandma are enjoying and spoiling the children.
Family Members Living Far AwayIf you have close family members that live some distance from you, they are obviously not in a position to provide convenient babysitting, but they can offer a great start to a spousal vacation by having your kids for a week’s visit. My husband and I both have brothers who live far away. We’ve never asked them to take the children for a week, because the children are too young, but we have discussed it and will take advantage of their willingness when the children are old enough. We have already had my husband’s brother’s two teenage boys visit us for two months last summer. It was an enjoyable experience for all of us, and my brother-in-law and his wife got to enjoy a longCaribbeancruise. My husband and I look forward to reciprocating.
Au Pairs and College StudentsIf you find it necessary to employ outside help, consider hiring a college student or an experienced au pair. This option may be less expensive than hiring a full time nanny or caregiver. It offers you the ability to keep you children in their own home, but does required a great deal of screening, interviewing, checking references, tax paperwork, and general worry about the wisdom of your final choice. I will admit that I’m glad that I did not have to make such a decision, but I would have preferred that option instead of taking the kids to a child care facility out of the home. There are agencies that can assist you in such a search and can provide well researched candidates for a fee.
Be PersistentFinding qualified reliable babysitters when you need them is a challenge; a dilemma that may seem insurmountable; but it isn’t. Each family situation is different, and each neighborhood offers different challenges; but they all present possibilities: stay-at-home moms, neighborhood children, church schools, relatives, and friends. With a little investigation, work, and subtle arm twisting, it is possible to set up a network of babysitters that you can rely upon in most situations, and to do so without having to remortgage the house to pay for their services.
About the Author:
Christine Allen is an editor for www.livesnet.com, a site devoted to helping people find the perfect baby gears for their needs, and offer tips on daily problems. She loves to write about parenting, baby and give advice to mums. Why not visit Livesnet to see her hot offers on Davinci Kalani 4 in1 crib and Kidsline crib bedding.
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