For any readers over the age of fifty or those yet without children, here’s some free information (that should shock and appall you): the going rate for a babysitter (here in Mid-Sized-Suburban-Town, USA) is ten dollars an hour. This is for one or two children. I hear that my friends with more than three children pay more.
As one of the oldest girls in the neighborhood where I grew up with a criminal background that boasted of above average responsibility, I think I started babysitting when I was about eleven years old. Most of the neighborhood kids were the ages of my younger sisters, and to my best memory, I never changed a diaper in my life before Eliott was born.
Daytime babysitting included inviting over several other kids and playing sardines for a couple of hours. Nighttime babysitting meant pizza or chicken nuggets, Doritos, and ice cream with the kids, PJ’s, teeth brushing, and bed. Then, I’d settle in front of the couch with whatever snacks I could find and very often slept there for the last hour or so of duty.
Before the age of cell phones, I was given a list of time segments with places and phone numbers listed; once in a while, the parents would call me to give a change of plans and a new number where they could be reached.
I always cleaned up before the parents got home (or made the kids clean up). Everything. Toys, kitchen, bathroom.
I was paid one dollar an hour more than there were kids. The math is fairly simple, two children = three dollars an hour.
Now, we don’t even own a home phone and have to make sure our babysitter has come equipped with their own cell phone. At ten dollars an hour, I often want to ask my non-high-school graduate if she will also be tutoring my children in French, or culinary arts. But French is definitely out of the question when most teenagers don’t even know where the dishwasher is (nor how to rinse the plates first). Forget about coming home to what looks like a settled house.
Truthfully, at ten dollars an hour, John and I never hire a babysitter. Think about it. Date night funds damn near double when you consider the childcare fees, and while we’re operating on a budget that does allow for date nights once in a while, I hate sacrificing my second (or fourth) martini for another hour of paying the babysitter, which is essentially what this boils down to.
In Burlington, John and I found another couple with children the same ages as ours. We attended a series of marriage classes together and one week the homework was to pair up with another couple and trade babysitting for date nights. It became a regular expectation with these friends, and I didn’t know how much I took this luxury for granted in the two and a half years they lived so close to us. We haven’t found a compatible couple like that since.
Therefore, when someone from church or a relative from out of town offers to watch the girls one night, we always take them up on it, and usually immediately.
Earlier this week, my sister came down from DC to help me through my migraine mornings. She gave us a night out on Tuesday, which we used to test drive minivans and then go out for seafood fettuccine, which I’ve been craving ever since the season premier of MasterChef. However, the greatest childless couple I know informed us a week ago they could watch the girls for us tonight. So, after several months without a break, John and I are actually getting in two date nights this week.
I feel like a teenager.
Anyway, I try to provide my free babysitters with a meal. Obviously not in the mood to cook right now, I scoured websites for summertime crock pot meals all morning.
Based on what I’ve got in the house, I came up with this: Crock Pot Chicken with Black Beans and Cream Cheese. Because I don’t feel like making the girls eat peas tonight, I’m going to chop up some kale and broccoli into tiny bits and throw it in there for the hidden super-food bonus. I think I’m also going to shred the chicken and suggest eating it inside of tortillas.
I can’t believe I’ve never made this before.
I’m not even sure what it is going to taste like but I can tell it is going to become a bi-weekly staple around here.