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Paying Family to Babysit: Yay or Nay?

Erin over at the Parenting Post recently blogged about how much to pay a babysitter—admitting she even tips—and tips higher when she comes home tipsy—LOL! I have two reliable sitters who I pay $12/hr—no tip. I really only use them in the evening and by the time they arrive it’s an hour before JD’s bedtime. He’s fed and bathed, so my sitter gets to relax, snack and watch television while my son sleeps—and I tell them to. I even tell them to rent a movie On Demand. My sitters are cool with this arrangement, but the truth is, my mom does most of the sitting and I don’t pay her. I only use my college/adult/non-fam sitters when I have a date, because I like my privacy. Do you pay your family to babysit?

The thing is, my mom would never take money from me. But, she does babysit often enough where I feel like I should be paying her. For example, I needed to work on Tuesday, but JD only has school on Mon, Thurs and Fri. My mom watched him from 8 A.M. until 5:30 P.M. If one of my sitters babysat, they’d likely end up with…$115

My mom doesn’t see watching JD as babysitting though—she sees it as spending time with her grandchild—and admittedly loves the alone time. This past Tuesday it rained all day, so they couldn’t go to the park, take a walk or even play outside in my building’s courtyard. I came home to find that they found a way to keep busy, regardless.

“J-A-C-K C-O-P-P-A, but not like pee-pee in the potty, P-P are letters, Mom! Domenic is my middle name but I need to practice. See, D-O-M, but there are more letters, Mom!” JD said this as soon as I walked through the door holding my purse, lunch sack, umbrella and the mail.

Next he guided me to the fridge to show me six new drawings. Next, he showed me a puppet he made out of an old sock, a macaroni necklace (the noodles were colored in with marker) and a huge block creation that he maintained was “a city with a car wash to wash all the taxis.” They also did Play-Doh, ABC flashcards, Candyland, had an indoor bowling match, hide-and-seek and broke out the instruments for a marching band game. I really trust my mom to stimulate and teach JD for long stretches.

Dinner -- salsa-baked chicken, Mexican rice, black beans and broccoli was ready to serve. The beds were made and a load of laundry was washed, folded and put away. OMG! So nice! My mom knows how hard I work to maintain my little family, work and life, so this extra help is really appreciated and over-the-top.

I should have paid my mom…something, but like I said she won’t take cash—I’ve had cash in my hand—she won’t take it. I don’t let her hard work and support go unnoticed, though—I have my ways of payment. I buy her mani-pedi gift cards, random, cute clothes, vanilla hand lotion and body splash, treat her to lunch (we went to California Pizza Kitchen yesterday), and always make sure my kitchen is stocked with things she enjoys (like tuna salad, Rye bread, iced tea, chips and salsa, pecan cookies, vanilla-orange-swirl ice cream…) Most importantly, I hug her and say thank you—and I really mean it.

Do you pay your family members to babysit? Please share!

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