Thursday, June 08, 2006


The one about babysitters

Talk to me about babysitters.

The only babysitters we've ever left the boys with have been my mother, our daycare provider, the daughter of my cousin (while her mother was in the house) and once, I think, an adult friend of ours. I've never hired the teenager from down the street, or even used a (fee-based) referral service like www.canadiansitters.ca. While the boys love to visit their Granny, I am always afraid of imposing, or that they are too much to handle. (Sidebar: how strange is it that we get to a certain age and begin to mother our parents?)

The eleven year old girl next door told me about five times last summer that she had completed her babysitting course, but I'm just not confident in her ability to keep my boys out of trouble, let alone do something like put them to bed. There's a family situation back story, too, but mostly she just seems so ... so... so young!

This seems hypocritical even to me. I was babysitting at that age. Heck, when I was 13 I not only babysat a two- and four-year old sibling set for the March break, but brought them downtown on the bus and bought some shoes for them, all at the mother's request. I was maybe 11 or 12 the few times I babysat a six-month-old baby down the street - I remember calling my parents because no matter what I did, that baby would not stop crying.

Even though we live in a family-friendly community, aside from the young girl next door I don't know anybody in the babysitting demographic. I guess I could put up a poster on the mailbox. How do you find a babysitter?

And then there is the minefield of compensation. The registration page for the Canadian Sitters service says, "A three month subscription to access the Canadiansitter.ca database costs $39.95. This approximately equates to the expense of a baby sitter for just one night." Yowza! Is that right? Forty bucks just to get a babysitter for the night? Sure, it was 20 years ago, but I used to get two dollars an hour!

(Pardon me, I 'm still reeling a bit that my babysitting days are 20 years behind me. Crap, I'm old.)

I've heard of babysitting cooperatives, where the parents trade nights out, but I don't really know too many families with kids in my neighbourhood. (Yes, we live in the most family-friendly neighbourhood in the city. Yes, we are social recluses. All my friends live in the computer. I'm hoping being part of Tristan's school community will forge at least a few new ties for us.)

What's it like where you are? What's the right age for a babysitter and how do you find one? How much is this going to cost? Should we just resign ourselves to waiting for the new releases on DVD until the boys are old enough to fend for themselves?