Where are all the Good Babysitters?


Last week a friend of mine shared this article  about a former Navy SEAL who is starting a business to train female veterans to be “tactical nannies.” Although I personally have no desire to hire a childcare provider to watch my children while armed, the story did make me think about my own ability to not only find that perfect babysitter, but to keep her.

Most moms I know are always on the lookout for a good babysitter. Whether we need someone to watch our kids while we attend Mandatory Fun or when we finally use that Groupon for a massage or when we hit the town for date night, MilSpouses want a reliable babysitter we can trust with our children. And because most of us don’t live anywhere near that free babysitting service known as Grandma and Grandpa, having at least one babysitter on speed dial is even more sacred.

But how are military families supposed to do that when we’re always on the move?

That’s a good question. We asked our Facebook readers how they hooked up with their babysitters, and while some were able to find sitters they love through their church, local colleges, or friends, others are still searching.

A couple of Facebook commenters said they don’t use babysitters because they don’t trust their children with anyone other than family. Although I may not feel the same now that my kids are a little bit older and more self-sufficient (and capable of tattling about every little thing the babysitter did or didn’t do), I do understand that sentiment after some of the lower performing sitters I never saw again.

For my own children, I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’ve used the services of co-workers’ children. I’ve tried out military brats fresh from the base babysitters’ course. I recruited a lifeguard from the YMCA where I work out. I’ve posted jobs on Sittercity. I hired a friend of a friend who needed some extra cash. And once, when I was really desperate, I paid my neighbor’s irresponsible 18-year-old who didn’t know how to turn on an oven (but did know how to play video games for 5 hours).

It’s not that some of these sitters weren’t keepers. For the most part, they were fantastic (well, except for video game girl). There were some who were perfect for those date nights when she only had to entertain the kids for an hour before bedtime, and then there were those precious few who were so amazing I would have trusted them to move into my house when I went out of town.

But every babysitter I’ve ever hired has had one distinct thing in common: they didn’t last.

Whether I moved or they moved or the nursing student switched to night hours or the college student went back to school after summer vacation, I just can’t seem to keep a babysitter. So help me out, MilSpouses. Where do you find reliable babysitters? And once you find them, how do you keep them?

About the Author

Heather Sweeney
Heather Sweeney is an Associate Editor at Military.com, former Navy wife, mother of two, blogger, and avid runner. She’s the blogger formerly known as Wife on the Roller Coaster and still checks in every now and then at her blog Riding the Roller Coaster.

5 Comments on "Where are all the Good Babysitters?"

  1. I pay them really, REALLY well. The going rate where I am is around $5/hour. I never pay less than $10/hour. I want to know that I'll outrank any other job offer when I call (and I usually do)!

    • Heather Sweeney | March 9, 2013 at 7:10 am |

      Wow, the going rate is only $5/hour? That's really low! In my area, the minimum for 2 kids is $10. I've seen some sitters charge $15/hour, and I usually don't even consider hiring them because that really adds up (especially on date nights when you're already paying an arm and a leg for dinner and a movie!) But maybe paying more will bring me some babysitter consistency.

  2. Well, if parenting is such an important job, why is it parents cheap out on babysitters for their special, amazing children? $10.00 an hour isn't even minimum wage!

  3. Yup I also pay nicely for our babysitter. I typically round up to the $20 rate (20, 40, 60, etc). Sure yeah it can be pricey on a date night but how often are you going out? Once a month? Maybe once every other month? Put that money aside..eat frugally for 2 weeks. If it's important to you that you go on a date with your spouse you'll make it happen TRUST ME. If you can't afford it this month then save up for a few..take the kids with you on your date night. Bring their electronic babysitters while you and the spouse enjoy a nice dinner out. The kids will be happy and will not disturb the others at the restaurant. Or have a date night at home..get the kids to bed and set up a blanket on the floor. Turn on some low music and share a bottle of wine. Hell if the neighbors will watch the kids for an hour hit up a drive thru get something to go and sit in the car. Date night doesn't mean spend an arm and a leg it means setting aside some time and mental health for the reason you have a family..your spouse.

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