Alright, let’s get the math out of the way first: do you know how EXPENSIVE it is to hire a babysitter these days? It’s not like those nice 80’s movies where you can get the neighbor girl Tina to look after Little Billy for 4 hours, at the end of which you pay her $10 and hope her boyfriend Troy was at football practice all afternoon. No, today’s babysitters are sleek, efficient, expensive individuals with Linked In profiles who accept credit card payments via their website.
Just how bad is it? According to a recent Yahoo article, you can expect to pay somewhere between $13 (the average) and $16 (in San Francisco) per hour for a babysitter. That doesn’t count tips, annual raises or the obligatory background check (seriously, don’t cheap out on the background check). So that’s $13 per hour. You’re going out to dinner as well? Tack on another $50. Catching a movie after? Shell out another $40. Popcorn and snacks? Listen to the sad wailing of another $15 leaving your wallet. Oh, and you decided to watch the most recent 3 hour 7th part of your favorite trilogy? That’s at least 5 hours of solid babysitting time, which brings our total to a whopping $170 plus tip. WHO CAN AFFORD TO PAY THAT??
Spending that kind of money can take the thrill out of even the most romantic of plans. With pressure to save for college tuition for 2 kids AND my own retirement (not to mention having some money to enjoy LIVING), I had to come up with a creative way to give my girls great care without having to resort to putting a stocking over my head and holding up the local chapter of the 1%.
After a few sleepless nights, I came up with what I think is a fabulous way to get free child care – I would STOP SPENDING MONEY I DIDN’T HAVE, and set something up myself. All I did was invite 2-3 kids to join my girls for a preschool program during the time I worked or needed child care. I hired a wonderful caregiver/teacher, laid out an engaging program, bought educational games and art supplies, and HOT DIGGITY, my child care was covered! Cost to me? ZERO. The tuition the other kids paid covered all of my expenses.
In fact, I kind of love this idea so much I wrote a book about it. It goes into a ton of detail and has forms and graphs and charts and everything you’d need. That said, it’s not the right solution for everyone.
Another great way to lessen the pain of paying for child care is to gather a group of parents you know and trust who have kids the same age as yours, and take turns watching each other’s kids. No money need change hands, and you can all work out a schedule that works best for you!
Have you done something like this, or know others who’ve done something similar? Let me know in the comments below!