10 Reasons to Hire a Teen Babysitter
Need to find a babysitter for your kids? Here's why you should hire a teenager.
Whether you want to get out of the house for date night or run some errands without towing the kids around after school, hiring a babysitter is a perfect solution. Teenagers can be great babysitters. Consider hiring one the next time you need a few hours of kid-free sanity.
Harriet Brown, author of "The Babysitter's Handbook," Dr. Danette Glassy, a pediatrician and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Early Education and Child Care, and Halley Bondy, author of "Don't Sit on the Baby!: The Ultimate Guide to Sane, Skilled, and Safe Babysitting," weigh in on the reasons to hire a teen sitter.
You Want Peace of Mind
Just because they're teenagers, doesn't mean they're unprofessional or inexperienced. Many teenagers often take child care classes and receive first aid and CPR training -- and you should look for one who has these skills.
"A babysitter is paid to ensure that the kids are safe, happy and following the parents' rules," says Bondy. "She assuages fears about staying at work late, or, heaven forbid, taking some time for yourself. It's like having a professional ally just a phone call away."
You Want a Positive Role Model
Teenage babysitters can also be good role models for your kids. They're responsible enough to be looking for a job and thinking of ways to make money. A teen could talk to your kids about what it's like to be in high school or college and why it's important to study and participate in extracurricular activities. And your kids might actually listen to their advice!
You're the Boss
There's a big difference between hiring a babysitter and asking a grandparent or friend to watch your kids. "A hired, part-time/as-needed babysitter will be more likely to carry out your directions than a volunteer babysitter, like a grandparent or friend," Dr. Glassy says. "By definition, they will have to be professional and dedicated to their time with the child."
Plus, a teenager is even more likely to follow your rules and expectations than someone who has been babysitting for a long time and is set in their ways.
Your Kids Have a Lot of Energy
You hate to use the term maniacs, so let's just say your kids have some excess energy. They like to run around and play active games. Most teenagers will be able to keep up, while an older sitter may have trouble.
"Teenagers can make great babysitters because they have energy!" says Brown.
You Want Someone Who Can Relate
When you hire a teenager to watch your kids, you get the benefit of maturity -- but not too much maturity. They're still young enough to understand how to be silly and have fun like a kid. They've probably babysat for younger siblings, know lots of fun games and know how to keep children entertained.
"They often make great playmates for kids, and kids look up to teens and enjoy spending time with them," says Brown.
You Need an Accommodating Schedule
What's the point of having a sitter who is never available? "Teenagers tend to be pretty flexible after school and on weekends, and their entire role is to serve you: the boss," Bondy says. "Having a babysitter -- or even a couple -- in your Rolodex will heighten your chances of getting regular or last-minute care, with your rules intact."
You're Looking for Varied Interests and Skills
Teenagers are often involved in lots of different activities, clubs and hobbies -- and they can share those new and exciting interests with your kids. "For busy, exhausted parents, a young sitter can offer high-energy activities, like sports," Bondy adds. "An artsy sitter can bring a new world of crafts into the kids' lives. A sitter from another country can teach the kids a new language or a new cuisine."
You Need a Tutor
Yes, you want someone to watch your kids, but wouldn't it be great if you could find someone who could help with homework at the same time? Yes, you could hire a tutor separately, but why not look for a sitter who can do double duty?
Unfortunately, most people forget what they learned in high school the day after graduation. But a teenager is still in the middle of classes and is more likely to remember math formulas and sentence diagraming.
You Want Affordability
While you can't put a price on your child's safety, teen babysitters are likely to command a more reasonable fee than having your usual nanny stick around for a few extra hours. As long as the babysitter is trustworthy and responsible, you won't compromise safety. As the sitter gets older and spends more time working for you and other families, you may consider upping the rate.
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You Want to Pay It Forward
Like most people, one of your first jobs was probably babysitting. It gave you a lot of great skills and experience. Now that you're a parent, support the next generation of teenagers who are just getting started and hire one to watch your kids.
These are just a handful of the benefits that a teenage babysitter will bring your family. As Bondy points out, "A sitter is not only reprieve -- she can be a member of the family, too."
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance journalist. Her work can also be here.