The BabySitting Equation.

by Lori Dwyer on October 12, 2010 · 24 comments

Carry the six,

Let’s talk about babysitting, shall we?

I see that statement being greeted with wry smiles by the mums and dads. And the eyes of the non-parents gradually glazing over…. and there they go…

Anyway. As I said, babysitting. You may remember a time- I certainly do- when your first child was tiny and soft and new and sweet and smelt of milk, and you had lots of people offering to baby sit them for you. Not that you took them up on the offer. You couldn’t bear to be parted with the little angel, leaving them only with your partner for a few hours at a time.

Fast forward a few months, perhaps a few years, and you get to a point where actually would like- or, conversely, would need– some time out from this screaming, snotty, food-covered little monster of child that demands all you attention 24 hours a day…. and all your babysitters have mysteriously disappeared.


Let’s examine this further.

There are, I think, three basic types of babysitters.

The Paid Babysitter- Not as common as American tween novels would have you believe, it seems. Which is baffling. Why would someone not want to leave their children with a teenager they hardly know who is being paid $10 an hour…? The mind boggles.

Friends as Babysitters- These are either friends of yours who don’t have kids- it’s preferable that they have had had some child-minding experience, or have some kind of degree in kid-wrangling, so you can be confident they kind of know what they are doing. Perhaps more so than you do. Unfortunately, these are also the people most likely to mind the tiny wriggly newborn, then vanish-poof!- once said newborn becomes a toddler.
The second category here is friends who have children themselves. In which case, you will be expected to perform reciprocal babysitting jobs. I have never taken anyone up on this offer, because it scares the sh*t outta me. Look at what I to my own kids. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s.

Family as Babysitters- Namely, grandparents. Who will tell you they adore it, but still pause slightly when you ask- juuuuust long enough for the corrosive mummy guilt to kick in. (Am I asking them too often…? Are my kids that badly behaved…? Do they think I’m a bad mum…?)

Random People Off the Street as BabySitters- This actually doesn’t go down too well with anyone, surprisingly. The kids, husband, cops, DOCS. Again, the mind boggles.

And that’s it. So, as we can see, options are, generally, fairly limited.

If you happen to need a babysitter, for any reason- say, a medical appointment, some time to dance in the forest naked and reclaim your sanity, a fake medical appointment so you don’t feel so guilty about taking time to dance naked in the forest and reclaim your sanity, to go out to dinner with your husband, or, if you’re anything like my mate Lucy, to go parking and get the windows all steamy like a couple of teenagers (gooooo Lucy!!); your chances of actually getting a babysitter are effected by the following factors-

Age of your children- The older you’re kids are, the easier they are to care for (generally speaking), and therefore more likely to get a babysitter you are. Newborns *ahem* are the exception. And children over 10 years of age, who no longer need a babysitter (Right? Right!)

The Number of children that need to be sat onEvidently, the more kids that need to be babysat, the more difficult it is to rope someone in.

Number of babysitters available- Who are sane, clean, responsible, haven’t been charged with any major criminal offenses, are not drug addicts, and have read up on the new baby and child restraint safety laws.

I know. Confusing much, yes? It’s OK. Don’t panic. I’ve actually put it into a mathematical diagram for you. Really. Seriously. What are you laughing at?

All you do is plug your numbers in, and compare your score to the scale. And, as usual, click to read the fine print, mmmkay?

For example *ahem*-I have 2 kids, the oldest of which is (almost) 3. Times this age by possible babysitter- let say for a nighttime shag fest dinner date- which is 3 (my mum, my mother in law and Auntie Mickey) and you get a score of 9. Divide that by how many kids I have-2– and we a score of 4 and a half.

And, when we compare this to chart, as we can see, things are not looking good.

Let’s try this again. Imagine we have 2 children. The oldest of which is 9. And 5 possible babysitters (ha!).That gives you (9 x 5)/ 2 = 22. And a half. Off the freaking scale. You lucky imaginary bastards.

So there you go. That’s the equation, and it’s copyright. My head hurts from thinking so much about it. Really. Test it out, on your own situation, let me know if I really am a mathematical genius. Or is this actually just a f*cking stupid formula and this whole post makes me look like a dumbarse?

Looking forward to your input. Thanks much.
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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

marketingtomilk October 23, 2010 at 6:21 pm

There is another option. The babysitting circle. No money, no guilt. Perfect.
As long as you're kids are the type not to wake up after bedtime. Babysitting is an excuse to put your feet up and watch the television your other half doesn't like you watching. Not to, um, baby-sit their children.



seomedicine October 13, 2010 at 4:55 pm

This post a good information and each word blog conveys a meaning.Babysitting Jobs


ClaireyH October 13, 2010 at 7:26 am

I think I will end up in the negatives, stay tuned in a few weeks for my blog post that will be about me having my first night away from my kids in nearly FIVE years, yes, other than giving birth, which doesn't count cos the new baby was technically there, I have never had a night away from Popps. When family is not close, what can you do?


CourtneyB October 13, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Ok when i was 12 it was totally feasible to think you may be responsible enough to look after another persons kids for cash.. I had also carried the key to the house around my neck since the age of 7 and let my 8 year old sister and 5 year old brother into the house after catching the bus home by ourselves, where we would play, do home work, fix a small snack, and wait till mum got home at around 5:30. I remember being put to bed and mum and dad would go out and a neighbor would have apparently come to check on us i don't think i was over the age of 10. tell me what you think of this.


Kristen Maier October 13, 2010 at 3:12 am

I don't see this working out. i am sorry but if I have four kids with ages 12, 9. 8, and 2… I don't think I would get a good possibility. Or am I missing something with this equation? I would think the less kids the better possibility… right?

It's a cute idea though :) Thanks for sharing.


Michelle Twin Mum October 12, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Lol, you make me chuckle! No one except the Grandparents want to look after twins. People always think it is far harder then it actually is – or is just that they hate my kids??

Mich x


MultipleMum October 12, 2010 at 8:00 pm


I hate to throw a spanner into your (very well thought out) works, but I actually score a 5, which is higher than you, and given that I have four, five and under including twins, something seems remiss!

I think you need to add an element to your equation to factor in multiple births :)


jfb57 October 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Lori, Lori, Lori! You do make me smile!! I need to lie down now though after all that maths!


Justine October 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm

I would trust you to babysit my child… And I suspect the princess would actually have a waaay better time at your house than she does at home :)


Jacki October 12, 2010 at 1:38 pm

So true Lori! The only person I can ask to watch my 2 is my Mum and I don't like to do it often. Surely date nights only exist in the minds of self-help authors and Hollywood screenwriters?!


Cate P October 12, 2010 at 12:25 pm

I have 2 teenagers so THANK GAWD I dont have to think about this anymore. Wonder if I can apply this to housesitters though, I need a holiday. Need to think of a formula to apply to one house, 3 pets and a large garden that needs watering.


Christie – Childhood 101 October 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

LOL, too true. Unfortunately, my very well paid, just-past-teenage, uni student babysitter is the most reliable I have. Family, yes, that hesitation and the guilt is exactly right, or the fact that they just don't call you back when they get your message, or that they are extremely busy, even though they tell you just to ask when you need to! Obviously I have issues here so I will just be quiet now :)


Being Me October 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

Yep. I'm on a 4. One 4yo, pretty much one babysitter option (who, as it happens, is coming tonight at 5.30 WOOOOOT! but let's not get too excited, the last time they babysat for us the 4yo was a 2yo).

LOVE this. It works, spot on. And where are those lucky imaginary bastards? I want to lay into them.


Amy xxoo October 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

I didnt know you were an algebra professor Lori…. luckily, Flynn is still small enough ( and cute enough ) that my parents and siblings dont mind babysitting. Also, that Babysitters Club brings back lovely childhood memories…i soooooo wanted to be Claudia!


x0xJ October 12, 2010 at 9:26 am

As a former childcare worker and babysitter extrodinaire…uhh, no way do i want to watch other people's kids!!
Having your kids does that to you doesn't it?
You suddenly can't stand anyone else's children, all your patience is zapped into your own.
This being said, our babysitting options are minimal…like, um, one person. My mother (ok we will include my father, but really, he doesn't "watch" them), who luckily happily watches Master B and cannot wait to take Master D for a sleepover once he's given up the boob.
My younger sister, unfortunately cannot be trusted to care for a house plant let alone mischievious children. Bugger huh? Perfect candidate!


Wanderlust October 12, 2010 at 8:50 am

You mean large pets don't qualify as a babysitting option? Well, that puts us really far down on the scale then.


Ebonie’s Mummy October 12, 2010 at 8:46 am

My barely awake eyes got confused when the numbers came into it. Haha.
I am about to have my second child so no doubt I wont get time for a shag for agessss now.


Mrs Woog October 12, 2010 at 7:39 am

no no – not stupid. I am very interested in your formula. (are you suffering nicotine withdrawals and have gone delerious?) xo


In Real Life October 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

Yep. Just as I expected, we are in the Don't Hold Your Breath Category. It's the possible babysitters factor that pulls us down. Fortunately, we are on the verge of leaving them home on their own for a bit…in another year or so.


Jane October 12, 2010 at 7:25 am

I'm a nanny/babysitter, so from my side of the fence, babysitting is GREAT. It's the easiest money I'll ever make! Being paid to sit through Disney movies, play toy trains and have my hair completely fucked up by a 5 year old wannabe hairdresser?! YES PLEASE.

But yeah…. I suppose babysitting might be seen by parents as a giant pain in the arse. I'll get back to you in 10-15 years time when I've had the chance to test that equation on my own future children xx


Lucy October 12, 2010 at 7:24 am

Steamy windowed parking queen here. As soon as I started reading this post, I found myself whistfully (and lustfully) thinking about "must get a babysitter".

We are lucky. We have friends with grown up kids who can deal with our three once a month and they all get a kick out of it.

Off to ring them now……

LOVE your formula…..



Good Golly Miss Holly! October 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

My Mum's my own personal babysitting service but she works on Sundays which makes it hard to conduct the usual Saturday night shagfest :|

Just yesterday my sister & I were talking about an upcoming halloween party a friend is having, I said I was having trouble finding convincing Mum to look after the kids and she says "God, don't they have a Babysitter's club or something like those books?" HAHAHAHAHA


MMBB October 12, 2010 at 10:02 am

My god you are so spot on I think you may have magical powers. Even the formula is spot on, I got 2.6 which is exactly right, I'm not likely to get a babysitter unless I'm dying in hospital.

Millions of people wanted to baby sit the newborns. Where are they now? huh? WHERE ARE THEY NOW!?? (you bastards)



Eva Gallant October 12, 2010 at 8:35 am

Thankfully my kids are grown and gone, and I'm the grandma who gets roped in now and then. I do set a limit; I don't do sleepovers. A few hours or a full day are the most I can take at this point in time. I have two sets I babysit for occasionally: Two boys that are 8 and 3, and a boy 9 and his 6 year old sister. They are good kids all, but I don't have the energy I had in my youth.


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