babysitting

The impossible quest: Finding a babysitter for New Year's Eve

Dec. 29, 2011 at 2:05 PM ET

WOO HOO!!! New Year’s Eve! Glamour!  Excitement!  Partying till dawn!  Unless, of course, you have kids.  In which case it’s Chinese food in front of the TV and bed by nine. 

Every year I fantasize about going to a nice dinner with my man, toasting champagne and indulging my “groove thing.”  But finding someone to babysit on New Year’s Eve can be as rare as a Chupacabra spotting.   And if you do manage to find one, the cost might make you think twice.

Will you be toasting the New Year at a fabulous party... or on the couch in your jammies after putting the kids to bed?

Babysitters rake it in on New Year’s Eve.  Parents desperate to get out on the biggest party night of the year throw hundreds and hundreds of dollars at anybody even remotely acceptable to watch their children.   Frankly, if I were a teenager I would give up my New Year’s Eve to babysit and buy myself a car.

I’m not criticizing parents willing to pay for babysitting on New Year’s Eve.  I’m an offender myself.  About four years ago, desperate for a grown-up New Year’s Eve, I offered my babysitter $300 to give up her plans and work for me.  She gladly accepted.   And it was fun.  Lots of fun.  But after paying the sitter AND paying for dinner for two on the most expensive night of the year I decided future New Year’s Eve plans would be more “family oriented.”

To parents who really want to get out for New Years Eve or attend a great party, the high cost of babysitting is worth it.  I spoke with Zee Miller Smith, the owner of Not Just Baby Sitters, a bi-coastal agency servicing clients in Los Angeles and New York, to find out just how much people pay.  “The hourly price varies from job to job based on the requirements of the job and the number of kids, but the minimum for New Year's Eve is at least $30 an hour with a four-hour minimum.  We require a two-week notice for New Year's Eve, but if we end up having to scramble for a client last minute (which happens a lot!), there’s an additional fee.” 

On Sittercity.com, a national babysitting website, the first ad seeking Dec. 31 sitters went up on July 5 this year. But before you feel like a slacker for waiting till the last minute, you’re not alone – the most common day for posting a New Year’s babysitting request is today, Dec. 29. So far, Sittercity has 1,500 ads from parents seeking babysitters this Saturday night – not to mention the thousands perusing the babysitter listings on the site. New Year’s is hands-down the hardest night of the year to find a babysitter, Sittercity public relations director Mary Schwartz says, and parents should expect to pay 50 percent more than their normal rates.

Another babysitting guru (who asked to remain anonymous so as not to ruffle any clients' feathers) shared a story of desperation.  A client booked a babysitter through her agency for New Year's Eve weeks in advance so they could go to a huge party.  The babysitter cancelled the morning of Dec. 31 because of the flu.  The client freaked out and offered an additional $500 to any babysitter who could take over for the night.  “It took 68 phone calls, but I found somebody,” the babysitting booker said.   

I suppose as long as there are parents who like to party and are willing to pay for it, babysitters will continue to make small fortunes on New Year's Eve.

Of course, the biggest price any parent pays for going out for New Year’s Eve is having to wrench yourself out of bed the next morning and make breakfast for the kids. 

I bet there could be a huge market for “Morning-After New Year’s Eve” babysitters.  Somebody should get on that.

Sarah Maizes is the founder of www.MommyLITEonline.com, a parenting humor website and the author of  “Got Milf? The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan.”  To see her the hilarious book trailer, CLICK HERE

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