When I was pregnant, I asked all the piano teachers I could find what it was like to teach with a baby. I heard all kinds of things, from “the neighbors/parents watched him” to “I taught with the baby on my knee, no problem.” So of course, as an intelligent, capable woman, I assumed I could also teach piano with my baby in the room.
This was false. Totally, completely false. Once he hit 12 weeks, it was all over, and I had to admit defeat. No five year old piano student can concentrate with a baby in the room, and I’d always have to pause the lesson to change a diaper, stand up and bounce the baby, get a different carrier, move him to the swing, get a bottle, get a new toy, etc. Could I have continued this way? Sure. Was it of value to my students and myself that I do so? Absolutely not.
(If you haven’t read about our journey with colic, you can check that out here. What a whirlwind that was.)
Finding a sitter.
First, for all you newbies out there, there’s a couple different ways to do this. One is to have a friend, neighbor, or high school student (who’s also usually a neighbor) come babysit for a bit. This is one of the cheaper ways to go, in my experience.
In order to find one of these magical sitters, it’s likely you’re going to have to leave your house and talk to people. Our go-to sitter during the week is a daughter of a friend of a friend. One of my backup sitters is a current student of mine who’s homeschooled. Another sitter (yes, there are many to choose from and juggle during the week) I met at our church.
This may seem a virtually insurmountable task, especially if you’re new to an area, so here’s a quick list of people to talk to when you need a babysitter:
- Your neighbors. Be sure to ask all of them. The retired ones may have grandkids who want some extra money, or their veterinarian’s daughter is a nanny. You really never know who you might stumble across that’s an amazing baby sitter.
- Your church. Talk to the minister, the music director (if that’s not you…), the receptionist, the little old greeter lady at the front door, everybody. Don’t be ashamed or shy. Everyone deserves a little help.
- Your students or their parents. Even if they can’t personally babysit for you, they might know someone who can.
Do I get a sitter or a nanny?
I honestly didn’t know there was a difference, but there is. Usually, a nanny will do more for you. They may help with dishes, putting away laundry, take the kids to the park, stuff like that. A really good nanny may even put together meals for the baby. A babysitter, on the other hand, usually just chills in the house with the baby for an hour or two.
So obviously a nanny is going to cost more. A lot more. Expect to pay a sitter somewhere from $7-10/hour, depending on where you live. A nanny usually asks for $15/hour around here, and they intend to do an 8 hour day.
In home daycare.
A lot of women run a little daycare from their home on the side. They might watch 2-5 kids a day at their house. I was a little torn on this one, because it’s the best value but it means I don’t get to be with my baby all day. I’m also a little nervous leaving him in someone else’s care in their home. However, for me I’ve found it good for my sanity to send my boy to a sitter’s house two or three days a week. You’d be amazed what you can get done in that glorious child-free time. And William enjoys getting out of our house and playing with different kids during the week.
Some in home sitters will have lots of activities for littles to do, and some will just let the kids run wild. It’s your responsibility to carefully interview these people, get references and call them, and pay close attention to your child’s behavior at home. (I have a nice little checklist for you to make sure you ask the right questions.)
In my area, this type of baby sitting runs anywhere from $30/day to $75/day, depending on the person and the location. I found my sitter after a bunch of hair pulling on care.com.
Our Current Childcare Arrangement.
William goes to an in-home sitter three days a week, and I pack as many lessons into that time as I can. I stack my homeschool and adult students during the day, and 4-6 pm is reserved for the public school kids.
On the days I have Will at home, I hire a sitter from 5-7. I can schedule makeup lessons during this time too, or get dinner ready if I have a cancellation. I also teach Saturday mornings from 10-noon and have a sitter come to the home then.
It took us months to work this system out, and we have five different people who watch Will during the week. Make it work for you with your business and family goals. For instance, Friday is my day off. William and I can do anything that day, from going to the zoo to painting at home to napping all afternoon. No lessons, no meetings, no writing, just me and him.
Finally, don’t be afraid to change it up if the sitter or the hours aren’t a good fit. If your student schedule changes, change your babysitting hours. If you have a sitter that just doesn’t really seem “with it,” then start looking for a replacement.
Babysitter Interview Checklist.
I created this handy little interview checklist that you can download and print out for when you’re meeting that new sitter. It has all the big questions on it so you won’t forget.
I’ll also send you my latest content by email when you sign up.
How Did Your Babysitting Schedule Work Out? Tell me your system! Are you expecting? I hope these tips will help you. Next week I’ll talk more about how I set up my schedule, and make sure my rates and cancellation policy work for me, my life, and my students.