Remember date nights? (What are those? Ha!) I have found that good baby-sitters are hard to come by…AND expensive! I would much rather buy a bottle of wine and cook a nice meal at home after the kids are in bed. Sometimes, you just NEED a sitter though. I have come up with a few solutions for child care on a budget…if you have any more tip, please share!
Call on Family! This is is probably your first option if you are lucky enough to have family in the area. Many people don’t want to “bother” their family with asking to baby-sit, yet you need to remember that many times, Grandma would LOVE to see her grandbabies! Just don’t take advantage of the situation! Also, consider sending cookies or a treat with the kids to show appreciation.
Mommy’s Helper: Someone in my twins group mentioned this idea and I loved it! When you are looking to get something done around the house, hire a neighborhood helper to play with the kids while you do so. Usually helpers’ age ranges 12-15 and cannot exactly stay home alone with the kids, but they can help you out. Pay is much cheaper and you can accomplish things around the house. (Side note: when I was younger, I was totally babysitting by 13…but that’s not quite acceptable any more…why is that?)
Babysitting Swap: If you have a group of friends that has kids, consider setting up a swap. Once a month, they will watch your kids and then next time you watch theirs. Big tip: set up guidelines beforehand: how many hours are allowed, frequency, etc.
Local Kids Nights: Our local YMCA has a parent’s night out once a month, from 6-9 and it’s $30 total for all 3 kids. They eat pizza and have fun, while you get a nice date night with your spouse. I have found other local organizations that do the same!
Check with a local college: If you need a nanny, check through a local school’s job board. When we first moved to Michigan, we found a babysitter who was a college student to help us out. Many students want a part-time job or occasional extra money and are perfect babysitters! All of the students we found listed had a resume filled with referrals and it was a much safer route than Craigslist!
If you are lucky enough to already have a babysitter, how much do you pay per hour? It seems that the amount varies quite a bit across the country. Here in western Michigan, the rate averages around $10-13/hour! Yes, these people are taking care of your kids…but that seems like SO much. Some people in the South said they pay only $7-9/hour.