Few things can add more stress to a group than babysitting. As a parent, you’re trying to savor a few moments of quality adult interaction, when suddenly your 2 year old appears in the room crying loudly. Game over. Then there’s the whole collecting money for baby-sitting thing. There’s that one family who never pays and as a group leader you seem to always have to give more than your fair share. How can we make babysitting less stressful?
Start at the beginning
On your first night of group, talk about babysitting. Explain how it works, how much to give, rules for kids, etc. This is probably the most important thing you can do. After the first night, you’ll be talking about babysitting in reaction to some issue or concern.
If your group has already started, go ahead and address babysitting head on. Say, “So, before we end tonight, I have a small housekeeping discussion which we haven’t talked about before- babysitting….”
First Night Pointers
Who to pay: Everyone give money to the host home or group leader and they will pay the babysitter. Do not give money to sitter directly.
How much: $3-$4 per child with a cap of $10 per family. If you have trouble paying, pay what you can afford. I like to guarantee a babysitter $15, but it will probably be more based on # of kids.
House Rules: This is important! Tell these rules to parents, the babysitter, and the kids directly.
- A general rule is the kids need to stay in the room where they are unless they’re hurt, they should stay with the sitter at all times.
- This is NOT crazy time. Kids can play quietly. I always suggest having a movie or Netflix on. (At one group I suggested all the kids come in their pajamas every week.)
- Talk with host home about toys that should be off limits. I put away swords and guns because they lead to craziness and crying. I also say that board games are off limits. If you’ve ever seen what a child can do to a board game- then you know!
- Children should go to the bathroom one at a time. (safety issue)
- (optional) You could make rules like, children have to stay on the main floor until after dinner, or until it’s time to go to the babysitting room. No wandering the house. After group ends, encourage parents to watch their children- and children must come out from the babysitting room and stay with parents.
Someone should be in charge of contacting/reminding the babysitter. Ideally, this will be the contact person for the sitter, and the one who pays them.
If kids get out of control, Small Group leader, it’s ok to go down and address the kids directly, then address the group. As a group leader, part of your job is to protect the host home from destruction. Children matter, but they shouldn’t be allowed to terrorize a group or destroy a house.