Is it me, or are babysitters getting harder and harder to find?
Back when I was a teenager, I used to jump at the chance to sit on someone’s couch for a few hours, raid another household’s pantry, and get paid for it. Even those jobs that required me to actually play with and tend to the children were, in my mind, both fun and worth the money. And while I wasn’t particularly fond of changing other kids’ diapers, I figured it was still an easy way to pocket some extra cash.
But these days it seems like teenagers aren’t as enthralled by the idea of babysitting. I have several babysitters in my rotation, and there are plenty of times where I strike out on all fronts, even with plenty of advance planning.
And it’s not just me. I have several friends who frequently find themselves in the same boat. I’ve even offered some of my sitters the option to watch my kids with a friend or two. “Come, hang out, and split the money,” I’ll encourage them. But often, even that fails to do the trick.
According to one source (the teenage niece of a friend), a big part of the reason has to do with the fact that many babysitters feel underpaid. But I find this somewhat baffling. All the people I know (myself included) pay a minimum of $10 and sometimes as much as $20 an hour for babysitting, which I think is more than fair. Admittedly, I tend to favor the lower end of that spectrum, and that’s because sitting for my kids means lounging on the couch and helping yourself to all the cookies, chocolate, and snack food you could possibly fit in your stomach. (Seriously, my pantry is legendary.) I’ve had multiple occasions where the sitter I hired never even laid eyes on my kids the entire time she was here.
Now babysitting my kids when they’re awake—well, that’s a different story. Heck, I wouldn’t blame a teen for charging $50 an hour to juggle my often-rambunctious 4-year-old son and twin 14-month-old daughters. And I can also understand how the idea of doing that might seem overwhelming to a teenager. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about sitting in someone else’s house and getting paid to talk on the phone, watch movies, and peruse a bunch of Facebook feeds. In other words, unless today’s teens have a much more active social life than I ever did (which is, of course, a distinct possibility), I don’t see why they’re not fighting each other for the chance to make some extra money. Yes, you’re giving up a Saturday night, but what would you be doing otherwise? Hanging out in somebody’s basement watching TV? Why can’t you do that in my house instead? (Ten bucks says I’ve got better junk food.)
Of course, I get that kids these days are much more overscheduled than I was during my teenage years. There are school functions, youth group events, and other such activities that often take place on weekends. However, I’m under the impression that these things don’t happen weekly, in which case you’d think my odds of snagging a sitter would be pretty good given that I’ve been known to book up to a month in advance. But alas, that’s not always the case, and so my husband and I often find ourselves cursing the fact that we don’t live near family when we see our friends gallivanting around town while we’re stuck at home eating the half-chewed leftovers our kids failed to consume during dinnertime.
Now there is a plus side to all of this. The fact that it’s so hard to find a sitter means we appreciate those date nights so much more. That said, if you know any teens out there looking to make some cash while feasting on the most impressive selection of nosh you’ll find on the East Coast (I promise I’m not overselling my stash), feel free to send them my way. I promise to make it more than worth their while.