As I type this I am thinking of Dar William's tune - The Babysitter's Here. I love this song and it cracks me up. I think we all had a favorite babysitter, or maybe more than one? I had three but that is because I lived in three houses growing up. In Wilmington, there was Karen who would bring us story books and toys; in Smithtown, NY, there was Krista who was just fun and played tons of games with us; and here in PA, there was Katie who was always so calm and chill, never yelled at us and let me and sister stay up late watching The Golden Girls.
I have no idea if I was ever anyone's favorite sitter. I think I will always be remembered by the boys I nannied in 2007 (I was nearly 30 by this time).
Now I am the one hiring sitters...or at least trying. It is just a different time and beyond difficult to find a good sitter in 2011. No clubs, referrals, kids knocking at my door looking for PT work, or even ads posted at the local co-op or pool this summer. We thought we might have scored on one ad but as always, we are met with the black cyber hole of emails. I just don't get it. Why do these girls say they want work and then not even reply yes or no? Have their parents not educated them on proper etiquette?
It does bring me to the parents. They must be footing the spending bills the way my parents would not and did not. Basics, yes; extras, no. If I were a kid today, my iTunes downloads would be on me and that would mean I'd have to earn and save. But I guess neither girls or guys are into sitting or mowing yards these days.
The sitter I do have is good. She is good but not great. I realized I set the bar perhaps unreasonably high. When I babysat kids, I would feed them, play with them, give them baths if they were dirty, I'd read to them, and I put them to bed within 30 min. of their parent mandated bedtime. Then I'd unwind a bit but always cleaned up -- the kids' messes, the kitchen messes (dishes in the washer or cleaned, tables and counters wiped down) and overall would leave the place better than I found it.
I come home to toys scattered everywhere...to M's room a total disaster of toys and blankets and some books...to the kitchen table a complete mess, the floor a mess, and the dishes piled high in the sink. We treat our sitters very well (I'm a firm believer in pay well and the kids come back) - and we pay for their pizza or Chinese take out and pay between $8-10/hr. Last night, after a wedding, we were out $100. Between the food and payment. And my house was a wreck. I don't expect dates to be cheap but I do expect value and a certain degree of awesomeness from the sitter for the food and the $10/hr.
I'm just not seeing it. And I happen to think because I had some awesome sitters and I think I was great (at least in the parents' eyes) that my son deserves a great sitter. The closest I have come to fabulous is my ex-boss' daughter. She is younger than most sitters we get -- she was 12/13 when she first watched Mitch (with her mom) -- and aside from a little squeamishness in changing dirty diapers, she rocks. She's 14 now and loves my son. They all entertain each other. I suspect if she were to ever come to my house she'd be really responsible about everything. She's be like me.
So where do I go...what do I do? I sound like Scarlett. I have heard of online sites but truthfully, I prefer referrals...or to import Emma from D-town. I have to find a solution though...because there is a world of amazing ethnic restaurants out there and more cool couples that V and I are finding and want to hang out with...and we need Dar's (and my) definition of a pure awesome babysitter.