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