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What do you Ask of Your Babysitter?

16 August 2012

Did you used to babysit when you were a kid or a teenager? Do you have a babysitter for your own kids now? If the answer was “yes” to both of those questions, the chances are that your babysitter today looks much different than you did in your sittin’ days – and it’s due to much more than just those skinny jeans your sitter is now wearing.

“When I was a babysitter, the parents just left and there was barely any instruction,” says Martha Scully, president of Now though, she says, parents “want to leave their child with someone more mature, more experienced. And they’re willing to pay more for peace of mind.”

Ms. Sully’s agency is a network that connects babysitters with parents that are looking for them. She says that while once upon a time, any teenager with spare time was a qualified babysitter, that’s no longer the case. Today parents want to make sure that their babysitters are early childhood education workers, second language skills, or nursing degrees in pediatrics. Of course, you can’t expect qualifications like this to come cheap, especially for someone you’re only having over for a couple of hours. This is why, says Ms. Sully, babysitting has become huge business in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.

For babysitters to make a minimum of $11 in a big city isn’t unheard of. And if the sitter has some elite qualifications, parents can be looking at paying as much as $20 an hour. But is that really a huge price to pay when you know that an actual qualified nurse is staying with your six-month-old?

Ms. Howson, who works as a nanny and a babysitter in the area doesn’t think so.

“I think parents just feel more comfortable that in this age where emergencies happen at lightning speed, a more mature sitter will react and not panic,” she says.

But, says Ms. Sully, there’s another reason why older babysitters are becoming such a hot new trend. That’s simply because they’ve had a few more years of learning experience. And that experience has not only given them time to go get ECE diplomas and nursing degrees, but also marketing skills.

“Individuals that are older are better at marketing themselves and proving that they are someone who should be hired, rather than your teenage babysitter,” says Ms. Scully.

But that experience, education and maturity is going to come at a price – and it’s going to be more than just the $15/hour that you’re paying the actual sitter. Sites such as Ms. Scully’s are also becoming big business too. charges $52 – $120 for a subscription; while charges $28 – $90.

Yes, babysitting today sure is getting expensive. But it might not be that much when compared with other services that are rising in price just as quickly. Looking at the chart below, which shows the Toronto rate for dog walkers and babysitters (older and younger alike,) you can see that it still costs more to get your dog walked in this city than it does to hire a truly quality babysitter!

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