Possible to compbine babysitting and music lesson? how to find teacher?
January 24, 2013 9:43 PM   Subscribe

I am a mother of 3 kids, age 2,4,10. I need babysitter to take care of my kids for 1-2 hours during the weekend, so that I can run other errands. But it seems that babysitters typically look for more work (money) than 1-2hrs ($30)/job (with typical rate of $15/hr). I am willing to pay $30 to $60 per hour if the babysitter can teach the kids music, dance, gym, drawing or other arts and can involve all three of my kids.

That person has to have experience with this kind of music/art education and be willing to come to our house to teach. How can I find this kind of teacher? Do I post on craigslist? I have been posting at sittercity.com for babysitter service. I see most applicants are 18-20 yr old high school graduates who study/work part time. I hope to connect with real music teachers who work with young kids to babysit for us. Is this impossible to find? I hope to hear how other parents find good babysitters and any good arrangements you made. By the way, I live in peninsula, bay area. Thanks
posted by akomom to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
I'm a nanny and most music / art teachers aren't also going to babysit your kids. They're interested in teaching, not refereeing.

I think your best shot is someone like me who is primarily a caretaker but also knows a lot about art / music / etc. The trouble is (as you mentioned) the lack of hours. Have you tried talking to other families in your area to see about getting in on a nanny share or if they have a part-time person who wants to pick up a few extra hours? I've been known to do this for other families in the neighborhood on occasion and it seems to work well for all involved.
posted by youcancallmeal at 9:55 PM on January 24, 2013

Why don't you just enroll them in music lessons and do your errands for an hour or two while they're at their lessons?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:58 PM on January 24, 2013 [16 favorites]

If you want to hire a babysitter only for a couple hours one day a week, agree on a minimum payment that makes it worth their while, and which isn't necessarily based on an hourly wage.

For example you say that a babysitter won't accept a $30 (2 hours at $15/hr) gig. What if you paid $50 for the same job?

As someone who used to do childcare, I'd have happily babysat for two hours for more than my usual hourly rate, but the same basic amount of money I'd expect for a whole afternoon or an evening.

I think expecting a babysitter to teach meaningful skills to three kids of totally different age ranges is unrealistic, as is hiring a professional music teacher to babysit (music teachers are not babysitters).

If you are so dead set on your kids doing constructive enrichment type activities during this time, I would decide in advance what you'd like them to do, and then have the sitter be more of a referee or a facilitator than a teacher.

For example the sitter arrives, and you've got art supplies and the area is already mess-proofed, and you say, "Could you supervise some art projects this afternoon?" Or the babysitter arrives and you say, "Could you take them to the park and let them run around a bit?"

When I was a sitter, I did these sorts of activities a lot with the kids and always welcomed parental insight into what they'd like the kids to be doing. It took a lot of the work of sitting off my plate, because I didn't have to come up with ideas to entertain the kids.
posted by Sara C. at 10:02 PM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

I agree with some of the other answers. If the sitter/teacher is teaching one, how are they supposed to watch/entertain the other two? If all of them were above a certain age, they could perhaps reliably work on something alone while the person was focused on the others, but a 2 and 4 year old I'd think aren't at that point.

Perhaps your local community center might have an afternoon class/activity that you could leave them off at? Or at least one or two of them?
posted by HermitDog at 10:08 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you are near a university, perhaps you could find a college student with a music background who is also interested in babysitting. This web site, for example, helped a friend of mine find a great student to pick her daughter up a day care one a week and drive her home for reading tutoring.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 10:13 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the reply so far. You guys are making good points. My expectations won't work in the real world. I can't put all three of them in lessons, since they are different age, no place offer lessons for their different age groups at the same time and place. It seems that no real music teachers would babysit. So I guess my option is still hiring the best babysitter I can get by paying higher.
I'd be happy to hear more opinions on this. Thanks everybody!
posted by akomom at 10:19 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

akomom, maybe a babysitter doesn't want to just sit for two hours at a time, but if this is a recurring, stable gig, you might find one who will do it. ASking someone to watch the kids for 2-3 a week, every week at $X a month sounds better than a one-off, two-hour job.

Alternatively, you could offer the babysitter that $60 for a 3-4 hour stint, and let yourself have a couple extra hours of kids-free "me time" in addition to doing the errands. :)
posted by misha at 10:28 PM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Maybe you could get a tutor/music teacher for the 10 year old, and a sitter for the other two?
posted by Garm at 10:46 PM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

It sounds to me like you're really in need of an part-time au pair or nanny, not a babysitter. My friends who both babysit and teach music would charge you at least $30-40 a kid per hour, but they'd be loathe to take on 3 kids at once since group lessons are difficult when you've got 3 differently aged kids to teach.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:48 PM on January 24, 2013

Maybe get a really good babysitter (as suggested above, by adjusting the rate upwards), and then look at getting some activity books you can use as a lesson curriculum. All the sitter has to do is run through the stuff you've set up.

Looking at stuff for homeschoolers is likely a good idea, since it's set up to deal with exactly this sort of situation, and is often available multi-age.

You could look at:

Five in a Row - this has lots of craft and learning activities based on classic children's books. You could pick the art/craft stuff and leave out the stuff intended to cover early-years school subjects. (Note: Christian publisher, but easy to leave out the few Christian bits)

Artistic Pursuits - This would require some up-front investment in books for different levels and materials, but it's a very well-structured, challenging, and 'serious' art curriculum. This is what to look at if you really want your kids to learn to draw and understand art well, and there's a book for the preschoolers, too.

Oak Meadow - These guys are mostly oriented toward homeschoolers who do their whole curriculum in a Waldorf-inspired way, but they do sell individual modules full of craft activities and book-based art projects.

...but there's tons out there, all intended to be used by parents, but easy for a parent to set up and a good babysitter to do for a few hours a week.
posted by Wylla at 1:02 AM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: I babysit a few hours a week, and my husband comes by for 30 minutes to an hour to give the kids (two, ages 5 and 7) a flute lesson / general music instruction (scales, beginning to look at notes on a page, rhythm exercises). It works out great because I can entertain / distract while he works one-on-one with each kid. Can you look for a couple or other pair of partners who would split the responsibilities and the fee?
posted by charmcityblues at 1:05 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It seems that no real music teachers would babysit.

That depends on what you mean by "real music teachers." If you mean "music teachers with a studio and running a small business," then no, probably not. But if you're willing to include people who know plenty about music and do lessons here and there on the side, you may find that a lot of them happen to be parents and wouldn't mind doing something like this.

Suggestion? See if you can get in touch with your local homeschooling community. Odds are very, very good that someone in your area is offering lessons to homeschooling kids and probably wouldn't mind hanging on to them for an hour or two afterwards.
posted by valkyryn at 4:13 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You mentioned drawing/art in addition to music. Is there a local art school? If so, put up flyers asking for a babysitter there. Then, when you're deciding who to hire, ask the candidates whether they'd be willing to spend some time doing art with your kids. 2 and 4 are probably too young to do much more than scribble and fingerpaint and put glitter on stuff, but if your 10 year old is interested, and if you invest in good supplies, s/he could learn to do some realistic life drawing or watercolors or even sculpture. So I'd target art students looking to make a couple extra bucks, give them some art supplies, and then see what happens.
posted by decathecting at 5:24 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have a music degree and made a living as a guitar teacher for two years in my early 20s. I disagree with everyone saying that music teachers are not babysitters. Music teachers are treated as glorified babysitters in many situations, and that was certainly my experience. The parents of my students were primarily interested in their kids doing a fun activity for 30 or 60 minutes, and if they weren't enjoying themselves they'd ask for a different teacher or quit.

I mostly taught at a music store, although I went to people's homes as well, and while I never had an arrangement like what you're describing, I would've done it for $60/hr. I don't think it would be that hard to find a young music teacher who would do this. Go to a music store and look at the flyers on the bulletin board, or look at the musicians section of craigslist. Obviously you'll want to meet the teacher and talk to them first.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:29 AM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

Instead of looking for a music teacher to come babysit your kids and teach them piano while he/she babysits, consider looking for an after-school class or workshop or music school that you could drop your kids off at. They'd do a group lesson with kids their age (not necessarily all in the same class) and you'd pick them up after. That's not as convenient as having a babysitter come and teach your kids something whenever you need to go out and do something, but it is a practical approach to having them learn music while you get some grocery-shopping done.

That said, I can't imagine it would hurt to put up a Craigslist ad describing your ideal situation, and see if you get any bites.
posted by aimedwander at 7:23 AM on January 25, 2013

Email Thingamakids (based in Oakland) - they might have recommendations.
posted by moonmilk at 7:58 AM on January 25, 2013

If you can find a high school or college age person who has had tons of music lessons and could teach an elementary piano lesson, chances are they they have a sibling/friend who can babysit the younger kids and do some rhythm or art activities with them.
posted by CathyG at 8:04 AM on January 25, 2013

This may be too obvious, but can't you just hire a babysitter at $15 an hour and while the babysitter is there, have the music teacher come?
posted by chickenmagazine at 9:27 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone's new input.
Ludwig_van, thanks for sharing your experience of being a music teacher, how the parents treat you. Through my effort in finding a babysitting arrangement, I learned not only thinking of what I need and how much money I can offer. I need to also think from the teacher and babysitter end. What do they want to get out of it. Their option of spending time and earning money. How to make their work hours a good experience for them. This way, it will be a nice arrangement that everybody have a good time. Then my kids will be better off.
Thanks Wylla and valkyryn for pointing to the homeschooling community. I will ask around.
Thanks decathecting for pointing to the art student teacher arrangement. That's a good idea.
posted by akomom at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: I have a fairly small babysitting job (picking up a child 3x/week, possibly watching child's 2 siblings). In my area this would usually be in the $15-$20/hour range. These are not rich people, low-end professionals, but they pay me $200/week or $60/pickup, not by the hour.

For that kind of money, I make SURE I am available, not sick, not tied up at my main job, not held up in any way, and, like John Henry, I do anything they hire me to: dinner, the occasional extra kid, weird projects, etc. I have various specialty skills that in NYC are worth money--I usually don't like being taken advantage of in a gray area situation--but for that kind of pay, I would, for example, give informal language lessons or similar, or SAT drills, not full-on tutoring, if the kids were the right age.

So I think a salary arrangement, not hourly, can easily get this job done. Like Sara C. says above. Something like $60 per session with maximum lesson time of 2 hours. IF you come back early (and make sure to come back early sometimes), then the person gets the full $60 with a smile. If you stay extra, s/he gets $60 plus an extra $30 per additional hour.
posted by skbw at 1:05 PM on January 26, 2013

Of course adjust my $60 per max. 2 hours to fit the local market and type of lesson desired. My point is not the exact rate, but that it's a generous flat fee no matter how short the lesson is, followed by a generous hourly for overtime.
posted by skbw at 8:03 AM on January 27, 2013

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