This morning while pondering my babysitting woes I happened upon this post from, From Dates to Diapers and Beyond and I decided to put myself out on the limb and write about Babysitters, otherwise known as nannies, aupairs and even mother’s helpers.
First, lets talk about those titles and what the true definition of each is…
A Mother’s Helper is a young girl who essentially helps the mother with the kids while she is at home. A mother may have a mother’s helper so she can prepare dinner uninterrupted or help her with getting the kids to bed or while she finishes her housework. Mother’s Helpers can become wonderful babysitters when they are older. They generally make less than a babysitter would.
A babysitter is someone that helps out with with your children and are not full time employees. They can be any age. Many are young but they can be mature adults as well. Generally a babysitter provides the very basic of services although that doesn’t mean they cannot be fun.
An AuPair is someone from another country who has a desire to live abroad with a host family and continue their education in some way. In exchange for room, board, $500 in educational expenses & a very modest wage they provide up to 45 hours of childcare per week . AuPair agencies and rules are regulated by the government. Some families use AuPairs because they are fairly inexpensive live-in help (in comparison to a full time nanny) while others like the idea of introducing another language or culture to their child/ren.
A Nanny is generally a full time employee with full time benefits (medical, vacation pay, you pay employer taxes etc.) and they may live-in or live-out. They do all the things that a mother does either with the mother or in her absence. This may include driving children to/from appointments, setting up playdates, planning crafts, running errands and preparing meals for the kids. True Nannies choose this as a career—although it can be a temporary one and you generally go through an domestic placement agency to find one. In this same category is a Governess who, unlike a nanny, has a degree in education and is responsible in some way for the education of your children. In a society where having a nanny is becoming a status symbol people may refer to their nanny when they really mean a babysitter and high school girls may even say “I’m Nanny-ing this summer” when they really mean babysitting.
When I was a babysitter I made a very modest wage. I think at my highest it was $3 per hour with an extra .75 per kid after 2. Today’s babysitters make at least minimum wage, if not more. I was expected to entertain the kids, do whatever the mom asked me to and make sure the whole house was clean when they came home. That didn’t include vacuuming but I did wash dishes and pick up toys. Talking on the phone was a big NO and certainly I couldn’t have friends over. I enjoyed babysitting and put a lot into it. I knew from my own experience with babysitters that kids like and respect the fun ones more and that means more babysitting jobs!
Fast forward to now and I have to agree, that they just don’t make babysitters like they used to. Texting, chatting on your cell phone, and surfing the Internet are rampant. Finding a sitter on a Friday or Saturday night involves months of planning and wages in the $15+ per hour range. And don’t expect them to come ready to play games, or even pick up after the kids because that is not happening. If you can get them to load the dishes in the dishwasher instead of just leaving them in the sink—well, you should personally call and thank their mother and I want their number.
While I’m certainly no expert on babysitters I will say this…14-15 is the best age for babysitters and 12-13 for Mother’s Helpers. They have no car, but know they want one and want to work for it. They also aren’t old enough to go to clubs or bars so they are generally available on a weekend.
If you have a family member that helps you with babysitting then consider yourself very lucky.
It’s a jungle out there.