When babysitters go bad

The title is a bit of a misnomer if I’m fair. Still, this is the tale of my birthday celebration meal last night.

Living as we do, a 3 hour drive from both sets of grandparents, we lack good willing babysitters. I have a friend who has offered but she would prefer E to be a bit older before she spends an evening with her, which is fair enough. Another friend has this week also offered her services but to be honest it didn’t occur to me to ask her. I didn’t think she’d want to spend an evening away from her small children by spending an evening with my small child. Also I get uncomfortable about asking people things like this. This is a reflection of my general silliness. My friends are lovely generous people.

So I wanted to find a babysitter. When I was little my mum was a member of a babysitting circle where women in our village had each others’ phone numbers and made arrangements among themselves. I used to babysit for my mum’s friends for a spot of spare cash. In this internet age it should be easy to find something similar yes? I googled ‘babysitting Nottingham’ and found childcare.co.uk with over 400,000 members (290,000 parents plus a range of childcare services including babysitting, private midwives, governesses, nannies, etc etc) I set up my free account, detailed what I wanted and was contacted by someone who was keen to earn extra cash, had various childcare qualifications and lived within a mile radius. So far, so good. She was free last night and charged a reasonable amount so I sent our address, my mobile number and a preferred time.

At the beginning of the week I hadn’t heard back so I thought I’d drop her a message just asking if she was still ok and offering to get anything in for her beyond tea, coffee etc. (I made biscuits and everything.)

“You have already replied to this message,” said the website. “To send another message you must upgrade to our subscription service.” Well this makes sense, I thought. They want to be a sustainable business. Fine. I checked the price.

£19.99 per month? Seriously?

It’s cheaper in the long run if you pay the yearly rate (£89.99) but still. There is no way I can afford either of those things. So I didn’t pay therefore couldn’t contact her and was unsure if she would turn up. We decided to book a table in a restaurant anyway just in case. I tidied up and got E ready for bed early.

6.30 came and went. She didn’t turn up. I assume she got the message I sent with my contact details and address on though I can’t, obviously, check this without forking out. We cancelled the reservation & I popped to Sainsbury’s to buy some dinner. It was nice food, we had Saturday’s 6 Music Richard Hawley concert on in the background and downed gin and pear cider as an accompaniment. It could have been worse.

This morning I deleted my childcare.co.uk profile. I can understand that they want to attract good quality providers of childcare and make sure that all is safe. This will mean charging. I can’t, however, justify paying that amount. To be honest, I’m not sure I know any parents who can afford that amount. If they do have over 400,000 members it would surely still be profitable to charge less and that way appeal to more parents? I don’t know. I don’t want to write an unpleasant blog post slagging them off. Just that it didn’t work for me last night.

In the meantime, I have tickets for a gig on 26 November. If anyone fancies babysitting, I’ll make more biscuits…

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3 Responses to When babysitters go bad

  1. mel harris says:

    ah shame!! i would be happy to babysit if you ever get stuck again, if i can organise things my end (which can be tricky if john is on a late shift…) and I won’t charge you anything – although yes biscuits would be nice, chocolate ones preferably!!

  2. John says:

    When ours were very little there was a locally organised group of parents and a system of payment by (centrally issued) curtain rings and standard tariff. Idea was that one had to do babysitting to get babysitting. Worked reasonably well, we never got so desperate that we had to take down back bedroom curtains…….

  3. Bee Pahnke says:

    Ironic that this blog now has a childcare.co.UK ad at the bottom of it generated by ‘adchoices’! If I lived closer I’d totally babysit, before I moved to London I was always default sitter in my family! Xx

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