November 1, 2007 6:31 AM   Subscribe

What is the current rate for babysitting 2 darling toddler girls - one is 3.5 and one is 2 years old. We live in the Nashua, NH area. Is it about $10/ hour? Also, what is the best way to introduce a teenager to your children? We've never used any babysitters besides grandparents before. What should I be looking for? What should I ask? Thanks!
posted by beachhead2 to Human Relations (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I would ask friends or neighbors with children for a name of someone that they use to babysit, and while you're at it, ask them what they pay the person. In Chicago the rate is $12-15/hr for two kids, along with dinner if the babysitting time overlaps with dinner.
posted by bonheur at 7:00 AM on November 1, 2007

We use a babysitting service that charges $8 to set-up the appointment and we pay the sitter $8 per hour (the service sets that rate).

We pay a neighborhood girl about $7 per hour.

This is 1 kid (~18mth). In a suburb of Cincinnati.
posted by probablysteve at 7:04 AM on November 1, 2007

I babysat all through high school and college and in my experience, it was best when I went to a new house and spent some time with the kids while their parents were home. That way I learned where everything was, how the parents dealt with discipline and how the kids interacted with eachother.

$10 an hour sounds right, especially for a highschool kids. It's a good idea to ask your friends with kids for recommendations. That way you know that they are reliable. Otherwise you can check with a local highschool to see if they have a job posting board. I got a few babysitting jobs that way.
posted by elvissa at 7:06 AM on November 1, 2007

As far as introductions go, my best experience on the teenager side of things was to just come over for a couple of hours one evening while the parents were home, a few days before I was actually supposed to sit for them, and we all watched a video and played some Spiderman together. That way I got to know some of the kids' habits and they got used to me coming over to play without the pressure of the parents being gone on either side.
posted by Rallon at 7:32 AM on November 1, 2007

Ask for recommendations from neighbors with young kids. Also, if there's a neighborhood park that you frequent, keep your eyes open for teenagers with kids, since chances are, they're either older sibling/cousin or babysitter. Either way, if you like the way they are interacting with the kids, just approach them and ask if they babysit. The sitter should take some time to visit and hang out with the kids before you leave the house. I usually pay the sitter for this time as well. If it's a young kid, you should also ask if they need to be picked-up and dropped off. About $7-10 sounds about right, depending on number of kids you have, how easy/difficult they are, and how old/experienced the sitter is). I also tip, especially if it's during the day, as opposed to at night where most of the time the sitter's just hanging out watching TV/doing HW while the kids are asleep.
posted by jujube at 7:49 AM on November 1, 2007

About 10 years ago, babysitting, I was making $15/hr for three kids, suburban NJ.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:49 AM on November 1, 2007

In my experience (in South Carolina), the going rate is about $8 for one child, $10 for two. That's today - back in the mid-80s I was getting $15-20 per hour in Albany, NY, but the neighborhood in which I babysat was in one of the higher tax brackets, I guess, so I guess I'd take the overall "wealth" of the neighborhood into account. Especially given that one or maybe both of your kids are probably still in the "diaper changing" stage I'd certainly not go lower than $10 at a bare minimumn.

Also, I'm not sure if this would feel weird or not, maybe it depends on how big your home is and whether or not you'd be right on top of them, but if you can it might be a good idea to have him or her come over and babysit for an hour or so the first time or two while you're at home. Not strictly -watching-, mind (and ideally not even in the same room most of the time) - just taking advantage of the free time to handle household errands, pay bills, whatever is difficult to do when you've got two kids to look after. I've had this done before during the first few times I've babysat, and actually I thought it worked well - if I had a question or concern I hadn't thought of before a given situation arose I could ask the mom then, and I'd assume that on the return end she could get an idea of how I interacted with/looked after her kids before she left me alone with them for any long period of time.

As to what to look for ... references are certainly a great idea, and it would probably be good to confirm that their mom or dad is at home nearby to help if anything serious -does- come up ... beyond that I'd just watch how they interact with your kids - do they jump in and play with them? Do they seem to -like- kids or is it pretty obviously just a paying gig for them? Do they sit them down in front of the TV (or in their playpen or whatever) and then read/watch TV/whatever? I suppose the latter isn't irretrievably unforgivable but, I dunno, personally I'd rather have someone who really interacted with the kids ...
posted by zeph at 7:54 AM on November 1, 2007

The minimum hourly wage for New Hampshire is $6.50.
posted by three blind mice at 8:04 AM on November 1, 2007

We live in that area, and my 12 year old daughter charges $8/hour, my 16-year old $10/hour. That's pretty standard. I would second asking parents in your neighborhood for recs.

As for introductions, my girls usually go over for a "play date" with the kids for an hour or so a few days before the event. That way, they can also get the low down on bed times, food allergies, etc. if they have never met the family before.

Nashua High School South has the "Purple Panthers Preschool" that uses the high school students in the childcare education program. You could try them.

Email is in my profile if you want more info.
posted by Flakypastry at 8:21 AM on November 1, 2007

Check for babysitting fliers in the bulletin board of the library, or call the local high school, sometimes they have lists of students who are interested in babysitting.
posted by fermezporte at 8:24 AM on November 1, 2007

Last week's WSJ article on what to pay your babysitter cited linked to this rate calculator.
posted by milkrate at 8:42 AM on November 1, 2007

In terms of introduction, when you find a potential sitter you like, arrange for them to come over for an evening when you're home (I'd pay the sitter for the time, even though you're home). That will give all parties (you, sitter, kids) a chance to decide if it's a good fit.
posted by radioamy at 9:26 AM on November 1, 2007

Make sure you set up transportation with your babysitter beforehand, as most of them won't have their own cars. My parents generally dropped me off to babysit and then the dad drove me home afterwards, but you can do whatever as long as everyone knows how it works beforehand.

Another thing I always found helpful as a babysitter was phone rules -- I always felt weird about answering the phone at someone else's house, but what if it was the parent checking in? It was really nice whenever the parents just said to let the machine get it. If you want them to answer the phone, make sure you cover all possible bases; I once babysat for a doctor and someone called saying their eye was bleeding after lasik and got really, really mad at me because I didn't have the doctor's cell phone number.

Don't expect every house rule to be followed, and so make it clear which ones are absolutely essential. Dessert might be okay, an extra half hour of TV might not be. Maybe ideally the kids are to be asleep by the time you get back, but teeth brushed & pajamas on would be okay. That way I didn't have to worry about interrupting play time to get something done that turned out to be totally unimportant, or messing up something really important because I misjudged it.

Walk them through any technology you have -- I can't tell you how many times I've had to deal with tantrums because I couldn't figure out how to work the projector screen in the basement so we could watch Thomas the Tank Engine.

Let them know the layout of the house or any foibles it has, especially if the doors lock automatically when they close. I've been locked out a few times because parents didn't tell me about that. Going through the kitchen and showing where the kids' favorite cups or plates are helps a lot, too.

Until you've developed a relationship with the babysitter, I'd try to always give at least one full week's notice before asking them to babysit. If you set it up too far in advance your babysitter might forget, and anything less and they might get annoyed with you for ruining their Friday night or being unable to babysit because of a school project and then you're out a babysitter. Once I'd babysitted for a family for awhile I didn't really mind if they called me up on Tuesday and wanted me to babysit the next day -- that night was always kind of sketchy, though, and giving me 1-2 days notice for a Friday or Saturday night job always made me a little annoyed, too, because then I had to cancel whatever plans I'd already made. It was always nice when the parents gave me a little extra when things like that happened, though.
posted by lilac girl at 9:34 AM on November 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

I'm in the area, and I have asked around. $10 for 2 kids, $15 for 3 (unless your sitter is quite young) is usual, I'm afraid. Seems like petty larceny but I also think of it as bribe money for them to come back next time.
posted by Hey, Cupcake! at 9:52 AM on November 1, 2007

We pay about $10 for one child here on Cape Cod. Hey, Cupcake! is right that the higher the rate, the more success you will have getting the sitter to come back, especially at short notice. lilac girl gives great advice, especially about TV instructions -- write them down if necessary.

As far as choosing a sitter, we have had success with hiring the daughters of the teachers at our daughter's school. I find the kids of people you trust are generally trustworthy themselves.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:09 AM on November 1, 2007 has been a great resource for me (Boston area). I've found three really dependable sitters over the last 18mo. They also have rate calculators based on your zipcode and with the ability to fill in details like number of kids watched, first aid certified, etc. There is also an area with interview questions and checklists. Craigslist has helped, too.

As for what to look for, references have been important to me. But in addition to simple recommendations, I would chat a little with the person who's giving the referral to see if your philosophies match up. For instance I got a very good reference for a sitter, but from someone who was way more uptight in a lot of areas than we are. What was important to her--the babysitter was able to follow detailed instructions--didn't necessarily mean a good fit for us, where I want the babysitter to be able to function without a lot of direction (there's food in the fridge, pull something together; there are playgrounds, museum, parks, and toys at home, you can decide what you want to do based on your time and mood and child's mood, etc.). So that was something I learned after a few series of interviews.

With an infant I was more willing to have a sitter who wasn't that fluent in English. With a daredevil toddler who has been to the ER three times in the last year, I'm less inclined to rely on someone who can't quickly communicate in an emergency.

For 2-3.5yo girls, I'd also have a few trial runs while you're there, because at those ages you want someone who can play enthusiastically with them doing the things they want to do (not just watching tv while they play).
posted by cocoagirl at 11:37 AM on November 1, 2007

My two teenage daughters babysit a lot. Well, okay, one's off to college but my 15 year-old still does. She gets $10/hr. in the Philly burbs. A couple of clients had her over first for just a few hours while they're still there. They get chores done; the kids get watched; and everyone can watch each others' performance.

I will tell you this. When we hired sitters and found one we liked, I'd pay big and tip big. That moves you to the head of their line. And really, are you gonna scrimpt on your kids' care?

Also, you have to empower the sitter to be able to tell you anything about your kids, especially bad behavior. I mean ask the sitter multiple times if the kids misbehaved. Teens are too worried to tell you your kids were awful.

If you liked the sitter and paid well but can never quite get her back, believe me, it's your kids.
posted by lpsguy at 1:51 PM on November 1, 2007

I've been babysitting since I was 12 (that's 8 years now...) and the current rate is about $10 an hour for two kids. That's about right. If you're out past 11 or 12 I'd thrown in a little extra besides the hourly rate.

I agree with what others have said. Have the babysitter come visit first. Almost every parent I have babysat for have had me visit a few days before I actually babysit so the children can meet me and they can show me around. This reduces the kids' anxiety when I actually come to babysit. Just have the babysitter hang around for a while and play with the kids for a few minutes while you are still there and that should reduce the separation anxiety when you go out.

As for questions to ask the babysitter/what you should look for:
-past experience
-are they certified in anything? I took a babysitting course and many teenagers have taken babysitting or red cross courses and may be CPR certified. The course I took was just basic safety information but I think (especially if the babysitter is younger- under 16) it's a good idea to hire someone with that background
-look for how they interact with your kids and if they have a report with them. Don't feel bad if you really don't like how the babysitter handles your children. If the first visit doesn't go well feel free to call someone else unless you've already scheduled a specific date with that babysitter.
- ask them any questions they have
-tell them about your kids and any specific needs they have

Make sure you show the babysitter where:

*important toys/pacifiers/blankies
*extra paper towels are
* food, bottles, etc. are
*the phone is
*the diapers/diaper genie/pajamas/wipes, etc. are

If your TV/VCR/DVD/Cable is complicated you might want to make sure you explain how to work that-especially if your kids are partial to a certain video and will want to watch it.

And of course leave your contact info., where you are, when you'll be back, numbers of close by neighbors or relatives, and possibly emergency numbers/doctor numbers. Leave a spare key if the babysitter will be going outside with the kids.

Hope this helps!
posted by bobdylanforever at 2:01 PM on November 6, 2007

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