Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Awesome babysitting incentive plan

I wish I could say this was my idea.  In fact, I wish I had one original idea in my whole life.  But it’s not.  It’s from my friend Whitney, who is about 10 years ahead of me in the child rearing game and is, thus, an awesome friend to have.  (I highly recommend becoming friends with a parent with kids 5-10 years older than you.  I swear all of my best parenting ideas come from watching and chatting with them.)

So my kids have entered the oh-so-thrilling stage on Self-Babysitting.  For about a year we’ve been able to leave them and go out to dinner, friend’s houses, etc. (after we put Faith to bed…lucky thing she goes down at 6:45pm).  After years of calling ahead, praying we get “the good babysitter” and shelling out all that extra cash, we don’t have to do it anymore.

I don’t remember getting paid when I watched my younger siblings and I don’t remember that it bothered me.  The reason I decided to pay was because of the incentive it creates for my kids to do a decent job.

Here it is:

I pay The Babysitter (usually Emma, sometimes Gabe if we are in town)

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$1 (for the whole night NOT per hour) if the house is TOTALLY clean when we get home

$1 if no one calls us on our phone to resolve a fight

$1 if the kids are in bed when we get home

$1 if they do something (read books, play games, go on a walk) with the younger kids besides TV

Then, I pay The BabySAT (Gabe, Jane, Seth)

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$1 if The Babysitter says they were good, so they have incentive to be pliable and obedient

Result:

$7 out of pocket for me, but a clean, quiet, happy house when I get home.

**I pay them only for date night/social events.  Church meetings, grocery store runs, doctor appointments are services that come with being a sibling in a large family.

It works wonderfully.  I realize this won’t work as well as they start getting older and can make more money babysitting or working elsewhere, but for these (9-13 year old) years, it has been perfect.

There.  If you want, you can just pretend that I am your older, wiser parenting friend and reap all the benefits.

28 comments:

Tristan said...

That is a brilliant plan!! Maddie is about 4-5 years away from being able to babysit for me, but I can't wait :)

the wrath of khandrea said...

just forwarded this post to the man. i'm thinking $7 is money well spent for a night out WITHOUT tattletale phone calls.

Paige said...

I really appreciate this. I am going to be here soon but no one listens to older, wiser Sol so I need this incentive. I remember my mom used to pay us all to "babysit ourselves."

I am still way overpaying babysitters so they will come back. Some day I'll get here. Fiona and Bea break too many rules. But what's working for me right now is anytime two kids fight they have to drop and give me 10 pushups. It's awesome and they do it and usually end up laughing.

Carie said...

Genius. really.

Alison said...

Genius! I still have a few years until I can use it, though. Tucking it away now...

Rochelleht said...

Wow. Emma babysits at 10?! I know I did but it just seems so young now that I'm the mom. Well, my kids are a bit high-needs... We have started grooming Jane for 12. That's when our babysitter will go off to college and it won't cost me $50 for a night out anymore. This is a great idea.

Adrianne said...

you are my super wise, excellent parent, friend with kids 5 - 10 years older whom I depend upon for everything. So glad I have you!!

...and Paige b/c who would have thought she'd administer pushups??

Kristin said...

So stealing this idea in a couple of years, only 4 more years I have to wait.

Shirley said...

You are DEFINITELY not older than me but for sure wiser. Very impressed. Got to give props Whitney as well (love her)! Thank you for sharing!

Lauren in GA said...

Holy Moly...brilliant, completely and totally brilliant.

I am showing this to Mike. The best part is going to be no tattle tale phone calls and the little kids get paid, too.

Brown Sugar said...

I am so glad I was the youngest child. Faith knows what I am talking about.

rubberbandgirl said...

Well, i won't be able to convince myself that you're older, but this is a great idea and I'll give you all the credit when I use it in around two years from now.

krista said...

That's awesome. Ours are still so happy to be home alone that they are goog for only $1, but soon that newness will wear off. I will put this to good use. I really like the idea of paying the younger ones.

Kimberly said...

But you ARE my more experienced (not older!), wiser parenting friend. In fact, next I am searching for your laundry system because my lanudry has me at my wits end.

I have tried to make my kids really hug each other when they fight until they are done fighting, but it hasn't worked so push ups it is. Thanks Jessica AND Paige.

Hollyween said...

If you lived closer to me I would be picking your brain all the time. I realize you said this wasn't your idea, but I really do love your parenting style and this is no exception. Excellent.

I can't wait for the day when I can leave my kids home alone too. What's a good age for that? 10? 12? What if the oldest is a boy? Does that change things. I'm serious about wanting to know. If you get a second, shoot me an e-mail and let me know what you think. Levi turns 8 this year so I don't have to worry for a while, but still.

p.s. Emma is such a beauty!

kara jayne said...

sweet.

Anisa said...

THat sounds like a great plan. Now I have to remember where to find this post in 5 years when I can leave my kids home by themselves.... with 3 boys I'm a little worried.

Ilene said...

Brilliant. This is why I am friends with you. You are my my "older" friend.

I am so funny. Do you agree?

For anyone who doesn't think this is a funny comment, it is. Jessica is not my old friend. I just had kids at a later age.

Okay, hopefully no one will tell you that I am a horrible person...

Ilene said...

Crap. My comment is completely redundant. That is what I get for not reading other readers' comments before writing my own.

I should know better.

Heidiram said...

I finally figured out this trick over the summer. I haven't incorporated paying to not have the kids call us while we are out. I will throw that into the mix. Mateo and Sarah have been super happy with their $1 . . . but I recently had to raise it to $1.25 so they can buy their favorite gum at CVS. I've been paying Tino $4/hour. Darn . . . I started out way too high.

I've also started paying my kids so they will stay home with my husband so I can get some errands done in PEACE. They always want to go with me. I pay them to babysit my husband. Once again, it's money well spent because I am able to do errands a lot quicker and without all the complaining, whining, fighting, etc.

Hazen5 said...

Best idea ever! I'll let you know how it works for us after this weekend. Keeping my fingers crossed for the "NO Phone Calls"!

Pa Pa Jim said...

Bribery is the best way to handle kids. Threats work too.

Meg said...

Please pass on all ideas from your older, wiser friends. I need them. I totally get how to handle all my kids now but I feel unarmed for the future. So arm me, ok?

Thanks.

And, we just started doing this too with a few modifications and I love it.

We pay our oldest son $1.00 an hour. He decides if the other 3 kids were good enough to get paid 50 cents total. I like the extra money for other things though. I will have to contemplate that one.

J'net said...

GOOD bbsitting idea! We had plenty of years of older sibs bbsitting, 'specially after the kids told the REAL bbsitter that it was OK w/ their mom to order pizza delivered to our house and I (mom) would pay the bbsitter BACK!! That was our LAST non-relative/sibling bbsitter!!
As the kids got older we also incorporated a "clothes" allowance of $50 a month per child. $100 for 16-18 yr. olds and they got to pay their OWN bills at 18! Jenna STILL hates that!! She's telling Jesse to NOT have his NEXT bday!! IF the clothing allowance runs out that month... they can wait til NEXT month!!

Jenibelle said...

Great idea! I don't think there's enough money in the world to convince Jeff he doesn't need to call us for something.

elizabeth scott said...

Okay this might not sound like a friday night entertaining movie because it is not. This is a movie to watch to be informed. I know you would find this fascinating Jessica. FOOD,INC It is at Blockbusters.

Camden said...

Brilliant. Thanks for sharing. We are just entering the self-babysitting age (oldest is 10) and this seems like an awesome plan.

Jamie said...

I love this idea! I just happened across your blog, and love this plan. I mentioned it on my blog, hope that's okay. I'm new to this blogging world, so please excuse any mistakes in blog etiquette, if I didn't do it correctly, or credit you the right way, let me know! I have really enjoyed reading your blog, your family seems very real, and fun.