It’s the top question on every Facebook parent group: “Can anyone recommend a babysitter?” How can we have so many local kids of babysitting age, and yet no one seems to have a sitter? Before you get discouraged, make sure you’ve exhausted all avenues when trying to find a babysitter, and don’t forget these… they’re tried and tested!
Your Older Kids: I know, I know, too easy. But not everyone knows that kids age 10 and over can stay home alone, and depending on their individual maturity, kids 11+ could even be potential babysitters. Halton Region has some great info on preparing your kids for being home alone, and on local babysitting courses for tweens and teens, as does the Canadian Red Cross. When my oldest was 11 we started going on walks around the block during the daytime to give her a little taste of the responsibility.
Your Friends’ Kids: I often use my friend’s kids for babysitting. Our usual sitter is 12, and perfect for when I need to be somewhere during the day on a weekend or PA Day, or if Mr. Active Parents and I want to go on a day-date. Plus, they’re young enough that they still like playing silly games with my kids.
Your Kids Friends Older Siblings: My 7-year-old has a couple of playmates who have older siblings. They’re ideal for babysitting because you already know a little about their family, and they’ve probably already been fairly acquainted, so no first meeting nervousness, plus, they may already have experience babysitting their younger sibling(s).
Your Neighbours Kids: I love the demographics of my ‘hood. Especially the plethora of teenagers who live on my street. Get outside, meet the neighbours, and their teenagers, too. We’ve used a couple of the local girls as sitters, and my kids love it. Plus, the drive home is amazing! Odd fact: my street is uncommonly low on teenage boys, which is why we’ve used girls.
Ask a Teacher: No, don’t ask them to babysit. They don’t need to see your kids any more than they already do. Ask them for recommendations on older kids they’ve taught. Who’s responsible? Who’s into art like your son is? Who can listen to detailed discussions on every Minecraft level your daughter has created? Maybe they have older kids or nieces and nephews who are local and eager to babysit. Teachers are a great resource. This is my favourite way to find a babysitter.
The Local High School: Many high schools will let you post a flyer if you’re looking for a babysitter. They usually have a spot for info like this, and as long as it’s approved by the principal, you should be fine. This is a great avenue if you don’t pick up your kids directly after school, and don’t get a chance to see the big kids milling about.
Places Where Teens Volunteer: The next time you’re at the library or community centre, and you see a group of kids, ask if any of them babysit. I know it seems intrusive, but it’s not. And it works better with your kids in tow. Teens are likely too shy to ask or offer. We met a couple of amazing highschool kids at a Tim Horton’s. They initiated games with my youngest while I had a coffee with another mom, perfect babysitter material!
Walk The Hood: Do you always see the same kid or kids walking home after school? Be ready – but not stalker-like – and one day stop them and introduce yourself and your child if they’re with you. I’d suggest having your name, address, and phone number on a card or slip of paper. And maybe some info like your kids’ names, and ages. Chances are they’re in your ‘hood, which makes for a great commute home!
If you’ve tried all of these, and still no luck, I’m a big fan of Other Parents. Swap childcare with other parents. You take their kid for an afternoon or evening, in exchange for them doing the same with your kid. The price can’t be beaten – free! Plus, it’s a win/win for the kids as it’s TWO playdates. Isn’t this exactly what “it takes a village” means?
My last tidbit is a reminder to never underestimate how rejuvenating an hour or two to yourself can be. Don’t wait for a fancy dinner or special occasion. Visit a bookstore, a coffee shop, or just sit in another room while your kid(s) plays with a new babysitter, and future lifelong friend. You won’t regret it. And you’ve earned it!
Click here for great parks and playgrounds for your new babysitter to take the kids to.
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