When I was 13, I had a long-term babysitting gig for a single mother in my neighbourhood that took place every Thursday. I would walk over to my not-so-close neighbour’s house for a 5 pm start time, so I could make dinner for the kids and myself—usually pasta and a jar of sauce. I would then serve the kids the meal, cleanup, play for a bit, then bath them, read to them, and put them to bed. After this, I crashed on the sofa until the mother came home around 11 pm. Even though she may have been drinking on her evening out, many times she would hop in her car and drive me home while her kids slept upstairs alone until she returned.
How times have changed.
My daughters have been of babysitting age for a few years now, and like many things, almost everything has changed since my child-minding days—many things for the better. There would be no walking over to their house in the dark, and most often, no cooking. My teens are barely able to even cook for themselves, let alone in a stranger’s home for their small children. Usually the children have already been bathed by their parents, activities have been planned, movies have been chosen, and a pre-paid pizza delivery is on the way.
But not everything has changed for the better.
As the parents of the babysitter, we’re also often on the clock when our kids are out looking after other children. When I babysat, my parents were nowhere in the equation. The hiring parents took care of me, making sure I was transported to and from their home. Nowadays, we as the parents of the babysitter are usually responsible for delivering our child to their home and then picking her up so that the hiring parents can go out on the town. I suppose they figure that if they are already paying for a sitter, all they need to do is make their own way home—they don’t want to take on the added responsibility of delivering home the teenage babysitter!
I find it amusing that all negotiations for the evening are often between the other parents and my teen, even though I’ll likely be a part of it too.
It’s common for the parents to text one of my kids directly to make arrangements, unbeknownst to me, or my husband. We usually find out later—the day before if we are lucky—that we are part of the equation, driving our teen to the job and/or waiting to be called to pick them up. By no means do I want someone else driving my child while under the influence, but I still think that it is the hiring parents responsibility to get our child home safely.
It wasn’t long ago that we were the parents hiring sitters, and we may have crossed some of these boundaries with the babysitter’s parents too. It is a very short window between being a parent hiring a babysitter to being a parent of a babysitter—and both is equally as worrying for the parents.
In this century, being the parent of the sitter is an extension of the job.
Some days I think of just quitting my job and becoming a baby sitter such easy money depending on the ages lol Luckily the lady I babysat for would pick me up and take me home and lived right behind my grandparents place so my mom didn’t have to worry about anything.
Shani Ogden says
I’ve thought about this a lot! I remember babysitting starting when I was 12. My mom had helped me put together a babysitting box with toys, games, crayons/paper. I cooked dinner, cleaned, put the kids to bed and was taken home or walked home. Thinking back on it, I can’t believe I did it. Times have definitely changed.
Babysitting has changed for sure. At 13 I was babysitting year old twins, cooking for them and sometimes staying the night. I can’t imagine having a 13 year old watching my son now!
Yes! I think fewer and fewer moms are willing to let 13 year olds watch their kids too (I know I am!). I started babysitting at 12 but I would NEVER let a 12 year old watch my son alone!
Gina @ Sweet & Modern says
This is very interesting! I babysat constantly starting at 11 years old!! (Seems crazy!?) I’ve often wondered how it looks today (since I’m not a parent). Interesting !
In our province, for a bit (they changed the law) if you went to a location to babysit they had to pay you the min wage and all the rules that applied to that (but if the person babysat in their own home it was different rules, as that was selfemployment) The rule for bathtime is now nice (a teen doesnt need that trama of being accused of anything) I think now, still, teens would be responsible for a meal (hopefully you teach them a few things before they go to college lol) As well as cleaning up after any play time etc. After all, you as a parent are paying them a fairly good hourly wage for looking after your children (mostly here in this area its close to the min wage, most people ask and get $10/hr)