One of the best things I did as a work at home mom was to hire a babysitter. When my two girls were aged two and newborn, they were easy to entertain and napped several times a day. Working while they slept or when they were able to watch a show worked nicely at that age.
Fast forward another two years and getting work done with a busy toddler and inquisitive preschooler is much harder. During this season, everyone is a little bit needier and solid nap times are not guaranteed. Time to hire a babysitter.
Getting Over the Fear to Hire a Babysitter
I hired my babysitter a little over a year ago. As funny as it sounds, I felt extremely guilty and nervous. My main goal was to be a stay at home mom, and now I was ditching my kid with a babysitter. I was also nervous that I was going to bring someone in my home that was abusive or that was lazy and watched TV all day.
I was also nervous that the $600 a month babysitting bill would be a financial burden to my family instead of a blessing. At the time, I was making only $1,200-2,000 a month, so paying $600 for a babysitter felt like an unwise decision. I am after all a finance writer, and I am continually telling people to cut out the extra costs in their life to save as much as possible.
I can confidently say that hiring a babysitter for two days a week was the best thing that I could have done as a freelancer and as a mother.
- I make 3-4x as much as a writer
- My marriage is healthier
- My house is cleaner
- I am a better mom
How can one babysitter bring on that many benefits? I’ll break down each section for you.
Making More Money with a Babysitter
Even though I was squeezing in writing during naptime, bedtime, and such, I wasn’t writing at my most productive time. I have found that writing from nine in the morning to noon is the most productive time for me to write. During this three-hour golden window, I am to get in that flow state and knock out 5,000 words, which equates to about three articles.
Now that I can hit that flow state twice a week, I am able to produce more content and take on more clients. Also, I now have more time to commit to pitching and gaining new clients.
A Babysitter Helped My Marriage
My husband works a demanding job, so it was not working for me to shove the children towards him as soon as he got home so that I could get a break or meet a deadline. When I am caught up on my work, my husband and I will even meet for lunch for an hour. We are able to squeeze in a little date hour despite busy schedules.
A Babysitter Helped Keep My Home Clean
Yes, the babysitter will help tidy up, but just knowing she is coming has helped me to be consistent in my clean schedule. I always clean best when I expect company, so having my babysitter come twice a week keeps me in check and my house clean.
A Babysitter Helped Me Become a Better Mom
I see now that even if I didn’t work, I would still need a babysitter to come at least once a week. I need that break from my kids, and my kids need a break from me. It is healthy for both of us. I also know that when I finish come home that work is done and that it is mom time. Having a babysitter has helped me set up those boundaries.
My employees are able to shut off the worker in them when they clock out for the day, but as a work at home mom, there is always work to be done. It is important to be able to “clock out” each day and stop thinking about work. You will never complete your work to-do list, so you need to manually put daily boundaries on it.
Finding the Right Babysitter for You
I found my babysitter through Care.com. My husband was tired of me going back and forth between hiring someone and put a general ad on Care.com. Within a week, I had 40 applications. It was way too overwhelming. I started going through them and got so overwhelmed that I deleted all of them.
I was too worried about hiring the wrong person. WhatsUpMoms just posted this video today, and it perfectly describes the angst I was going through in a hilarious way. This is a must-watch if you need a good, clean laugh.
Still on the fence about hiring, I prayed for the right direction to go. I was 26 at the time, and I knew that I didn’t want someone too young or someone older than me. I didn’t want my kids to have another mother figure, but a fun, responsibly aunt figure in their life. Also, how awkward would it be to boss around a 30-year-old who has no kids? Maybe I am the only one to think so.
I also started to think about the core values I wanted in a babysitter. I wanted someone that had childcare or teaching experience, and I also wanted someone that was more active and hands-on with crafts and baking. Basically, I wanted a babysitter to fill in where my weaknesses were. That is when I came across my current babysitter’s profile. She was in college to become a nurse (so she would know to call 911 in an emergency) and she had worked part-time in a public school (so she would have required to get her tetanus shot). She also loved exercise and being outdoors.
Laugh if you want at my reasons for hiring her, but it really helped me get over my fear of hiring a babysitter. I encourage you to set three non-compromisable aspects you want in a babysitter and start your search from there.
I could have also hired a college-student from my church, but I honestly just wanted this to be as professional as possible. I didn’t want flakey behavior, especially when I have deadlines I have to meet.
What to Pay Your Babysitter
When I received the 40 plus applications for babysitters, I was quoted an hourly rate from $8 to $15. The rates vary greatly, and I strongly recommend not going for the cheapest person. My babysitter asked if $12.50 was a fair price, and even though all of my friends pay their sitters $10 an hour, I didn’t mind paying the extra. My children are two of the most important people in my life, so I didn’t want to go cheap.
Also, when you pay someone what they believe they are worth, they respect you, and they want to go out of their way to please you. If you treat someone like they are cheap or unnecessary, they will most likely act that way towards you. In the same tune, 90 percent of the time, I am not late, and I pay a little extra if I am. I even gave her a nice Christmas and birthday present and let her know how much I appreciate her. In turn, she has gone out of her way to look up fun things to do with my girls, has given them gifts for their birthdays and just makes the effort.
This was especially important to me because we don’t have a lot of family around. My mom passed away three years ago, and my mother-in-law can only visit town every few months. The relationship that my babysitter and girls have developed is special to me and definitely worth the extra monetary value.
To sum it up, don’t be too cheap and interview a few different individuals. Meet with potentials and have them play with your kids so that you can see how they interact.
What If I Can’t Afford a Babysitter?
If you are a work at home mom or stay at home mom, then you need a babysitter. Even if it only for a half day each week. I know this can cost you $50-60 a week, but I promise it is worth it, even if you are on a super tight budget.
Think about it. How much would you pay if you could finally do that dream project that’s been on your mind, whether that’s writing a book or writing music? How much would you pay to improve your marriage? How much would you pay to earn double in your work at home position? How much would you pay to improve your health and mental state?
Here are a few ideas on how to get babysitting on a tight budget:
- Trade babysitting time with another stay at home or work at home mom
- Have family members watch your kids
- Hire a mother’s helper, who is typically younger and does not charge much. A mother’s helper keeps the kids busy and out of your hair while you work in another room of the house
Do you have a babysitter as a work at home mom? How did you find the perfect sitter for your family?