A few weeks ago, I wrote about the difficulties I’ve had in finding a good babysitter for my two kids and finished with the untapped market that is the teenage boy babysitter. Little did I know that hiring a 16-year-old boy as a babysitter was a controversial action guaranteed to raise eyebrows. When I’ve found a teenage girl to babysit, I have to hide her phone number. When I sing this young man’s praises, I get doubtful looks and “are you sure that’s safe” type of questions. Perhaps they’re thinking he might set a rocket off in the living room.
Still, after hiring the same young man multiple times, I stand firm with my decision to not let gender bias my babysitting needs. If you need a few reasons why, I’ve got them.
1. Legos. While it may seem odd that Lego-building leads my list, to my 8-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl, the fact their babysitter helped them to construct an entire mission command station from their boxes of Legos — without directions, no less — led to my son telling me fervently, “It was the best day ever.” It was an enterprise that spanned five hours, with pizza breaks to top it off. They were proud and exhausted by the time I got home.
2. Availability. As I wrote in length, teen girls who babysit are a hot commodity. Their calendars book months in advance while male babysitters are still on the fringe of the childcare radar. In addition to their babysitting, most of the girls I know have cheerleading or dance or a sport whereas I’ve been fortunate to find a teen boy who isn’t interested in sports as much as he’s interested in art.
3. Cost. I try and pay a fair wage for watching my hoodlums, but when you’re negotiating with a sitter who is in hot demand, the cost per hour can increase to the point where soon she’s making more than I do. Teenage boys, though, seem almost surprised that you’re going to pay them to play with the aforementioned Legos and eat pizza while they hang out away from mom and dad. To quote the young man I hired, “Awesome!”
4. Fun. As much as I like to try to keep gender out of it, I can’t help but notice the sort of fun the kids have with their male sitter is vastly different than the sort with their female sitter. With her, they spend time splashing in the pool while she works on her tan — while keeping a careful eye on them. With him, he’s likely to be the one throwing water balloons. My kitchen may not be as clean and my house is certainly not as tidy, but the kids are more often than not exhausted from the high activity levels.
What do you think? Would you hire a teenage boy to babysit your kids?