How Much Does Babysitting Cost in 2019
As you prepare to hire a babysitter, the important question of pricing may be looming in the back of your mind. While this is not a service that you want to cut corners on or skimp on, you also do not want to pay more than you need to for quality childcare services. As you decide how much money to offer your babysitter, keep these important factors in mind.
Factors Influencing Babysitting Rates
Babysitting rates vary dramatically based on several factors. These include the experience of the babysitter and his or her credentials. Consider that a professional nanny with a lengthy list of references may understandably charge more than a teenage babysitter who picks up odd jobs on the weekends. Your location will also play a role in the rate for childcare services. The minimum wage in your area should serve as a starting point when setting a threshold. The demand for babysitters, your need for special services, the number of children who will be cared for, the children’s ages and many other factors all must be taken into consideration.
The Difference Between Full-Time and Part-Time Care
There is a difference in the process of hiring a full-time vs. part-time babysitter. Full-time typically means being salaried with paid time off, holidays, etc, written in a contract, while part-time is normally paid out hourly but with set days/times. So be sure you know the minimum wage laws, but also do your research to know what the average rates in your area are for full-time nannies. If you are looking for one-time or part-time care, a slightly lower hourly rate may be reasonable.
The National Average for 2019
The National Average for 2019
The average hourly rate for one child is $16.75 in the U.S. for 2019. The national average for two children is $19.26 per hour. Additional children will raise the average rate further. Before you decide how much to pay for childcare services, consider asking your friends and neighbors how much they pay for their preferred babysitter. By polling several parents and making adjustments for the various relevant factors, you can better determine how much you should pay for the services that you need.
Many babysitters and nannies have a minimum rate that they are willing to work for. While you should research local rates, you also should ask the individuals whom you are interested in hiring what they charge. Through your research, you can determine if their requested rate is reasonable for your needs and for the area.
2017 Babysitting Rates: How much should you pay your babysitter?
We surveyed over 20,000 families from all across the country to get the scoop on what parents are willing to pay for—and what they’re willing to pay extra for—when it comes to childcare in 2017!
- San Francisco came in as the most expensive city for babysitters once again in 2017, with $17.34/hour for one child as the average rate. While Denver has the least expensive babysitters in the nation, at $12.22/hour for one child, on average.
- 48% of parents said they spend over $1,000 a year on childcare.
- Over 90% of parents say they require references, either some or all of the time, when hiring a new sitter.
- Almost 1/3 of parents hire a sitter at least once a week. While only 5% say they hire a sitter once a year or less.
Amy Cahill of More Than Milk is Giving Back to Chicago–A Few Hundred Moms & Kids at a Time
By Lela Nargi
Amy Cahill remembers the afternoon last December when she was shopping with sons Max, age four, and Logan, age 2, at the Target near their Lincoln Park high rise. Spotting two sparkly plastic princess crowns, Max turned to his mother and insisted, “We’ve gotta get those!” They were a perfect match for the princess slippers that had been donated in a toy drive to Cahill’s non-profit organization, More Than Milk—a fact that struck hockey-loving Max with a certain amount of urgency. Says Cahill, “It was one of those times when you begin to see your kids are getting it—that little twinkle of understanding about being kind and helping others.”
Cahill conceived of More Than Milk, which teams up moms and their tots with kid-friendly volunteering opportunities around Chicago, almost four years ago, during a 2:00 am breastfeeding. It’s a grown-up witching hour of sorts, when many new moms feel so acutely alone and disconnected from their pre-mom lives. Rather than give in to those feelings, Cahill used them as fuel for an organization that would give her precisely the opposite—community and connection—with other new moms looking to do something more than just mom, looking for a way to give more than just the milk they were producing for their newborns. She typed up notes and designed the website for More Than Milk right on her iPhone, over the course of several more 2:00 am feedings. “It was kind of crazy,” she admits. “But I wanted an opportunity for continued personal growth, and also felt very motivated to make the world a better place for my son.”
Growing up in suburban Michigan, Cahill had a powerful do-gooder role model in her mom, a school counselor. “She connected with the wild kids and the troublemakers, and impacted their lives with kindness and firm expectations,” says Cahill. “I wanted to emulate her commitment to others.” She began to do just that in 10th grade, when a new homeless shelter opened in her town. She raised the money to furnish one of the rooms and organized weekly events where local high schoolers would come in to play with the shelter kids.
Cahill graduated from the University of Michigan in 2003 and moved to Lincoln Park, where she’s lived ever since. Initially, she worked at a sales and marketing consulting firm, and volunteered on weekends at a public school in Englewood, reading and making art with the students as part of an enrichment program. “I came home from those Saturdays excited and energized,” she remembers. She got her teaching certification through Northwestern University and began teaching 6th grade, then high school math, in the Chicago public school system. The experience was rewarding but grueling and made her realize, “We really need to come together as a community to help each child thrive,” she says. “Teachers can’t do it all; parents can’t do it all.”
Around this time, she met her financier husband-to-be, Gabe, at Midway airport. “We were in line at Potbelly’s to get sandwiches and he thought, ‘If she walks over to my terminal, I’ll talk to her.’” They discovered they were not only on the same flight—both back home to Michigan—but that they lived on the same street in Chicago. They were married in 2008, and Max came along two years later. Shortly after his birth, Cahill made the decision not to go back to teaching. “I knew I couldn’t balance those 60 kids, plus my one,” she says. But it didn’t take long in her new role as a stay-at-home mom for her to realize that her life was out of balance, in a different way. Being active in the community had been a huge guiding force in her life, and now she felt a strong need to get back to it. She hoped she could convince other moms to join her.
The More Than Milk soft launch happened on a muggy Thursday in August of 2011. Thirty-three moms and their babies turned out at the Lincoln Park Bubbles Academy playspace for a Mommy & Me Health Fest, in support of the breast and ovarian health organization, Bright Pink. They raised $500. More crucially, they started spreading the word about More Than Milk to the local mom community. “So many amazing, smart women are choosing to stay home and they started coming to us saying, ‘I love being home but I miss doing stuff that involves my previous career.’” The moms who turn out now—staffing two or three events a month, sometimes in numbers in the hundreds—are “completely dedicated,” says Cahill.
To date, More Than Milk has hosted over more than 100 events, teaming up with women’s and domestic violence shelters, NICUs, and senior centers—places where mothers in particular feel a sense of purpose and connection. Cahill and her six-mom board of directors work with a handful of carefully-selected “Featured Organizations” (FOs) to come up with “fun, easy ways for moms and kids to get involved.” Sometimes the kids are actively engaged in singing, or handing out holiday cards to septuagenarians; sometimes they’re just “cooing in their strollers,” says Cahill. Whichever way, “They’re experiencing philanthropy with you first hand. My thinking is, if you have them volunteering with you before they know what it is, it becomes part of their life.” Volunteers sign up on a per-project basis, which keeps the organization flexible and doesn’t scare off moms who are afraid to promise more than they can deliver. Plenty of dads help, too, especially with weekend projects and anything that requires a lot of heavy lifting.
Participation has been growing in leaps and bounds. The 2013 toy drive for a pregnant teen shelter yielded about 300 gifts, which More Than Milk Volunteers also wrapped and delivered. In 2014, “I got to 1,062 toys and I couldn’t count anymore, because I had to get busy and wrap,” Cahill says. “We more than tripled contributions in one year.”With the success come challenges. Toddler Logan looks at the gifts for the More Than Milk drive and “thinks it’s all for him,” laughs Cahill. Not to mention, “Our greatest asset—namely, our kids—makes everything we do unpredictable. So it can be hard to find projects that are truly beneficial to our FOs, and that can take place in a kid-friendly environment and window of time.”
But both on a community level and within the much smaller nest of her family, Cahill says the challenges are well worth the effort—even if the results in her boys are not immediately or consistently apparent. “As moms, we worry so much: Are we doing the right things?” says Cahill. “When you volunteer, you realize it’s simple: You give them love and you teach them kindness. I want my kids to take time to understand how fortunate they are. I want them to think of other people.”
Photographs by Thomas Kubik, TK Photography
Meet Andrew Alford, Jeffrey Norberg, & Kate, Wicker Park, Chicago
by Lela Nargi
When hotel designer Andrew Alford got an offer to pack up shop in hometown San Francisco and become chief creative officer for boutique chain Graduate Hotels, based in Chicago, he knew it would be a big transition (not least of all because of the weather). “It was definitely a change for our family,” says Alford’s husband, Jeffrey Norberg, an intellectual property lawyer. “But Chicago is a great city to raise a kid in!”
Married in 2008 just two weeks before Prop 8 passed in California, the two have spent the last year settling in to the funky Wicker Park neighborhood on Chicago’s West Side with 3-year-old daughter, Kate, a sandwich maven. While Kate munched on peanut butter and jelly and the family’s Boston terrier, Squeaker, waited patiently underfoot for crumbs to drop, they talked to us about their new life in the Windy City.
What’s it like to be a Chicago family, now?
Andrew Alford: Lifestyle-wise, Chicago is more focused than some other cities on families—families with kids of all ages, not just in the 0 to 4 range. There are kids everywhere, in all parts of the city, and we take Kate out with us all the time.
Jeffrey Norberg: When we first moved, I started my own law practice and worked remotely for a bit, out of the back bedroom. I’m really busy now; it’s so easy to get to know people in Chicago. And it’s truly a city of invention: the avant garde, molecular gastronomy. People are willing to take a lot more risks in business endeavors, because the cost of entry into any given market is a lot lower than elsewhere. There’s a real pioneering spirit here.
Was there something about Wicker Park in particular that appealed to you?
Andrew: There are a lot of families in our neighborhood, but there’s still graffiti, a hip-hop scene, underground art. Even though we’re parents, we didn’t stop being interesting people. A couple of weeks ago, a local bar was having drag queen night in the basement, dedicated to John Waters. Kate would have loved it; she’s so social and music-focused. But they won’t let her in till she’s 21.
Jeff: We could get her a fake ID. That’s quality parenting advice! There’s a cool mix in our neighborhood. We’ve got all these galleries, bars, vintage and designer shops. But in the warmer months we can go to the amazing playground in Wicker Park, and to the farmers market on the weekends.
Andrew: We both work intensely so we don’t always want to have to load Kate into the car and put the effort into driving somewhere. Living here, we haven’t had to sacrifice our adult lives. We try hard to maintain the interesting aspects of ourselves, so she can grow up knowing about those.
How old was Kate when you adopted her?
Jeffrey: We had her a few hours after she was born, adopted from Colorado. It actually happened very quickly. Just over three years ago we had gone through the process of getting our household approved to adopt. The agency suggested that we send out letters talking about why we wanted to have a child to clinics and pregnancy crisis centers, and they said we had to hand-address every envelope. We had three big parties for friends who helped us address 3,000 letters. A few days later, we were contacted by Kate’s mother, then three weeks later, we were flying out to meet her.
Andrew: She’s one of the most open-minded, kind-hearted people we’ve ever met. We stay in touch with her, and she keeps track of us on social media. She visited us twice in San Francisco, and she’s due to visit again. We have no secrets from Kate about her—we’ve been reading her books on all kinds of families since before she could even understand.
What’s your family routine like?
Jeffrey: Every weekday Kate goes to daycare from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and we have dinner together, as long as Andy’s not traveling. In which case, Kate and I will have dinner—steak, because Andy’s not a huge fan. On weekends, we spend both entire days together. December through March can be difficult in Chicago. But there’s the Shedd Aquarium, which has Beluga whales and a submarine with buttons and knobs for Kate to turn. Or we go out to eat. Dove’s Luncheonette has a potato hash that’s on the spicy side, which Kate loves.
Andrew: Kate also loves Vietnamese pho—actually, any incarnation of soup. We have to drive to Argyle Street on the North Side to get it, but then there are eight places to choose from, including Tank Noodle.
Jeffrey: In San Francisco, Kate would be the only child eating out in a restaurant. Here, she never is. I think that’s a good influence on her.
Photographs by Thomas Kubik, TK Photography
Meet the Music-Loving Solares Family, Bucktown, Chicago
By Lela Nargi
Jessica Solares and her husband, Luis, don’t just teach music in Chicago’s creative epicenter; they live music, too. Parents to 3-1/2-year-old Lucia, who attends preschool at Bucktown Academy, near the Solares’ Bucktown Music studio, the two met at Elmhurst College, where they both studied Music Business —a major Jessica describes as “odd” and also uninspiring when put to real-life practice—before they decided instilling a love of all things musical in tots, teens, and even adults was their ultimate calling.
Although they and their staff teach voice and pretty much every instrument imaginable to school kids as well as the occasional grownup, they describe Kindermusik, an early-childhood-development curriculum for infants as young as, well, 0, as the real lynchpin of their operation— and their first love. Read on to find out why! And how important music is for them, their daughter, and families throughout Chicago.
Why is the Bucktown neighborhood such a great location for a music studio that caters mainly to kids—and that your own kid spends so much time in?
Jessica Solares: There are a lot of other cool businesses here: an art school called Easel Art Studio, a dance place where they teach ballroom—Dance SPA Chicago— a playspace around the corner called Purple Monkey Playroom. We were one of the first businesses on this corner, and just a few blocks down from us there’s a hub with fancy shops, restaurants, and bars: we love Irazu Costa Rican restaurant and Red & White Wines. There’s also a doggie day care, and an auto repair shop, so it’s kind of strange. But there’s always plenty of parking on the block!
What is it that you guys love so much about Kindermusik?
Jessica: When I began teaching at other places, I had students who were excelling above and beyond in their lessons. I wondered, Why are they so smart? It turned out they had all taken Kindermusik classes. I looked into and I liked the concept. It’s not just singing and dancing; it helps with brain and language development, prepares kids for school, teaches them patterning, how to use their bodies. It also gives kids way to express things when they don’t otherwise have the language, because kids can start singing even if don’t know words. It helps their soul. And when we listen to music they can notice instruments: “I hear a piccolo!”
“Music helps reading, language, math, abstract concepts, spatial awareness, and teaches kids to work in groups.”
In my own experience as a parent, Lucia and I have a song for every activity, from mealtime and brushing teeth, to bathing and going to the grocery store, to the doctor, to the park, plus feelings and sounds. The songs have saved me countless times while waiting in line or at a restaurant with a restless child! They are a great, easy, positive distraction that doesn’t need anything but your voice.
Luis Solares: Jessica brought Lucia to a Kindermusik class when she was 1 week old. We were running the business and had to be here, and Jessica was tired of being home. Lucia loves music. She’ll say, “Papa, lets play ‘No Woman No Cry,’ or ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight.’ That’s one of her favorites. She sings perfectly in tune and gets joy out of it. I don’t know if she’s going to be musician; she might be an accountant or a fitness instructor. But we’ve had this time together and music is part of her life.
Jessica: I don’t expect her to pursue a music career. Our goal at Bucktown Music is the same for all children: that they can be musical children, not child musicians. I want her to understand how music can express feelings and give her a pleasurable activity to release stress. Music also helps reading, language, math, abstract concepts, spatial awareness, and teaches kids to work in groups if they are in an ensemble. So far, Lucia loves singing and playing all of the percussion instruments.
Does she like hanging out at the studio?
Jessica: Yes! She likes to chat with customers, color, play instruments, read books, and participate in whatever class she can!
Is Lucia also learning how to play an instrument?
Luis: Not yet, but we know she’s going to do piano for sure. It’s the most fundamental instrument, the instrument kids can be most successful at a young age. But if at 8 or 9 she wants to play guitar or violin, that’s fine, too.
Jessica: We’ll start her on piano when she is 5 or 6 years old, and it will be important to make it a positive experience for her so that she will want to continue.
What were your backgrounds in music growing up?
Luis: I was involved with the choir, a little band that did performances in church. That was my only association with music as a kid. I moved here for college 17 years ago; I’m originally from Guatemala. It was supposed to be temporary but I decided I loved music and wanted to continue being involved. I used to have bands that performed in local bars and restaurants a couple of times a week. It was a gratifying experience; and it also shows my students you don’t have to be famous to get rewards from music. In fact, I have a lot of adult students—doctors, lawyers, accountants, nurses. They play music to relax, it’s their hobby.
Jessica: My family has a musical background. I have three younger brothers and two of them are professional musicians; one works here now. My dad and brothers are also luthiers, so I grew up my whole life with music. It’s strange to me that not everybody does that. It was so great for me to always play music with my dad, violin, and he played guitar. And we had a family band, Wild Rice. We played hot rock/jazz type of stuff because my dad was big into the bluesy thing. And yes, we have been compared to the von Trapps.
What instruments do you each play and teach?
Luis: Jessica was the lead singer for a band, and when she went to college she played violin in the orchestra but was a voice major, and she’s also good piano player. I teach guitar.
Jessica: A good music teacher should have a variety of things they can do. Mostly, we want everyone to learn a love of music and get inspired.
Visit to learn more about Bucktown Music.
Photographs by Thomas Kubik, TK Photography.
Last Minute Family Day Trips For the Dog Days of Summer
By Ilene Miller
My two boys, age 10 and 13, love to spend summer “chillaxing” and getting away from the grind of the school year. But typically, by the end of July, we are all burned out on the pool and looking for some family fun in the sun that doesn’t involve a three hour car ride to the beach or the lakes.
Luckily for us, metro DC has an abundance of activities that make for great family day trips. But no matter what age your kids are—and no matter what city you live in—zoos and other places that house animals are a surefire hit. If you live in DC, check out the Leesburg Animal Park in Northern Virginia. My son Max has taken selfies with a goat, a chicken, and a donkey and hopes to cover all farm animals by summer’s end.
The Catoctin Wildlife Preserve & Zoo in Thurmont, MD offers unique animal encounters where you can touch an exotic animal and learn all about it through their terrific education program. To make a day of it, we like to visit the Cunningham Falls for a short hike and picnic. And of course, in the middle of the nation’s capital we have the star gem of the Smithsonian in the National Zoo. Admission is free and you can literally spend an entire day exploring all of the exhibits! Once you’re tuckered out, be sure to stop by Baked by Yael’s Cake Pops, a newly-opened, woman-founded cake poppery right across the street and tell her Urban Family and Activity Rocket sent you!
New Yorkers can make the drive (or take a scenic Hudson River train ride) to the Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills. A center for food and agriculture that’s built on part of the old Rockefeller estate, its 80 rolling acres of wood- and farmland are idyllic for families, even if you’ve got your dog in tow (Fido must be kept leashed at all times, though). You can sign up to collect eggs from the farm’s chickens, visit the pigs, the sheep, and the greenhouse, or just stroll around and take in a breath of fresh air. For lunch, sandwiches, salads and baked good made with the products from the farm are available in the Blue Hill Café. Or, if you feel like getting fancy, make a dinner reservation at Chef Dan Barber’s award-winning Blue Hill restaurant (you’ll also have to tote some snazzy duds—no shorts allowed in the dining room!).
In Chicago’s Brookfield suburb, the Chicago Zoological Park has been a Mecca for families for over 80 years. Built on 216 acres, and housing about 450 species of animals, this is an easy place to wile away the day. If you live in the LA area, the Santa Barbara Zoo is just 90 miles north of the city and is considered one of the most beautiful zoos in the world. Where else can you see more than 500 animals while overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Andree Clark Bird Refuge, and Santa Ynez Mountains? It’s right by the beach so it’s typically chilly—a bonus on a hot summer day. Not to miss: feeding the giraffes and riding the train, which goes all around the zoo.
When it’s downright boiling outside, we head for some water-bound relief. Harper’s Ferry is another short drive from downtown DC, and a great place to go whitewater rafting or tubing. Last summer, we had a blast leisurely tubing down the river and exploring the riverbeds, and the kids got a huge kick out of the floating cooler and waterproof camera. In the District, at Key Bridge Boathouse, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes. Afterwards, it’s fun to walk around Georgetown or people watch on the waterfront. We also love to rent sailboats at the Washington Sailing Marina and classes are available for kids, adults, and even families.
Across the country, on the San Diego Coast, San Elijo State Beach provides all the thrills of camping and a day at the beach, rolled into one easy-to-reach location. By day, families can build sand castles and play in the reef-protected waters. When the sun goes down, build a bonfire, roast marshmallows, and teach your kids some camp songs. If you need a break from nature, Wan Pizza has delicious pizzas and the waiters bring kids dough instead of crayons to play with while you wait for your food. If you’re looking for watery adventure from Los Angeles, try a kayaking daytrip with LA River Kayak Safari, led by local guides and featuring wildlife galore.
Both San Franciscans and Angelenos can take a family road trip on Highway 1 between Los Angeles and San Francisco to piddle around the tidal pools at Montaña de Oro State Park, and watch the gray whales migrate north from lookouts along the steep cliffs of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
This summer, my family adventure bucket list includes Trapeze School New York in Washington and the zip line at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. I have done both with my girlfriends but have not experienced them with my sons and husband yet. I can’t wait to settle once and for all who is our family’s biggest daredevil! Adventure parks are hot right now and you’ll have no trouble locating one within striking distance of your own city.
My kids would shoot me if I didn’t mention amusement parks. We try to end every summer with a trip to one that’s nearby. We are a huge rollercoaster family and dare each other to sit in the front seat, not hold on, keep our eyes open. It’s a great way to celebrate the end of summer and for us, it’s a short drive to Kings Dominion, Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, and Idlewild from the metro DC area.
New Yorkers with little kids in tow will find rides for tots at the world-famous Luna Park at Brooklyn’s Coney Island; and north of the city, in Westchester, historic Rye Playland on the Long Island Sound has something for all ages—including Kiddyland, with rides galore for the just-walking set. Knott’s Berry Farm is a great destination for families in SoCal looking for an alternative to Disney.
So, rather than sit at home in the air conditioning as the summer starts to feel like it’s overstayed its welcome, hop in the car and drive off to a little adventure!
Ilene Miller is co-founder of Activity Rocket in metro DC.
A Night Off With Kim & Jeff Bosse of Birch Road Cellar, Lincoln Park, Chicago
By Lela Nargi
Just over a year ago, Kim Bosse, a social media consultant, and her friend Sharon Provins, hit on a brilliant idea: a top-secret, members-only club that would appeal to grownups—if not exclusively parents, like them—who were looking for a low-key, no-kid night out that didn’t have to end right after dinner was over, or devolve into a bar crawl.
Says Bosse, whose husband, Jeff, is now full-time managing the product of this brainstorm, Birch Road Cellar, “A lot of parents appreciate a night away from the kids and night out, but they don’t necessarily want that to be a big scene. They just want to break out of the house!” And that counts for Kim and Jeff as much as anyone. Read on to learn more!
Tell us a little about your “clubhouse.”
Kim Bosse: It’s pretty simple. What we offer is a comfortable, casual environment where our members can hang out. They can keep their own spirits and wine in our wine cellar, which makes getting out of the house easy. Parents have so much on their plate it can be hard to plan stuff. But here, you can get takeout, open up a bottle of wine, and actually talk to your partner, because the music’s not too loud. There are also plenty of other couples you can connect with, if you want to.
Sometimes, Jeff and I will get a last-minute night out. There are all these new restaurants in Chicago I’m always dying to try, but you have to reserve three weeks in advance. It completely turns date night into Chipotle night. But even Chipotle night can be fun if you’re eating it in a nice space with a bottle of wine!
What is it that you guys most like about hanging out in the space you created?
Kim: I grew up in the suburbs, where we had secret neighborhood spots that we kids would ride to on our bikes. It’s something I valued as kid, and also now as a grown-up. The idea of everyone serving themselves here [there are no waiters or bartenders at Birch Road] came from our own lives. I like craft spirits and buying local beer, but when I go out and look at restaurant lists, I can’t remember what I’ve had and liked before. Also, it’s impossible for a bar or restaurant to stock what everyone likes but here, whatever you’ve tried that you like, you can buy it and put it in your locker at Birch Road and it will be waiting for you the next time come in. Or maybe you have special bottle of wine someone gives you as gift but don’t want to open just for yourself; you can’t wait to come in and share it with another member you’ve met here.
Was having a clubhouse-y feel important to you?
Jeff Bosse: We’ve got very much of the living room set-up. People seem to really like those kinds of comfortable spaces.
Kim: We tried with the décor to make it as comfy as home, but to still functional like a bar. A lot of seating at bars and restaurants is intentionally designed to be not comfortable long-term, because they don’t want you to stay. Here, we want you to sit back and enjoy! We have “studio spaces” that are like mini living rooms. If you want to be more interactive with other members, you can sit in the bar area. There are sofas and easy chairs, but they’re not pushed together, no one is listening in on your conversation or intruding.
Are all your members parents?
Jeff: Only about 30% of them are parents, but among them, we have parents with kids of varying ages: babies, school-age, some who are even older than that.
Kim: One of the things I love about coming here versus other social opportunities we have as parents is that people branch out and the center of the conversation is not always our kids. I love talking about my kids [son, Reese, is 8 years old and daughter, Sophie, is 6] and I could easily talk about them all day. But it’s nice to feel like a grownup and have a conversation about other things. We’ve got a diverse group of members in here, so the conversation naturally steers away from childhood stuff, to food and drink and movies and shows.
Parents in Chicago embrace diversity for families and kids—we’re always looking for diverse experiences—but social clubs here tend to be industry-specific. We have a number of private clubs that are dedicated to finance, to lawyers; these are places people join to further their careers. But Birch Road is unique because we offer the private club experience without it being a resume-building environment; it’s just a place where you and your peers can meet. And most important of all: we’ve got a no-kid policy!
Do you have a favorite kind of night at the club?
Jeff: One of the things I’ve really enjoyed since opening Birch Road is being the best host for Dad’s Night Out. Before, I would host literal “garage parties” where we would drink beer and play darts in my garage. Now we’re sipping Scotch and playing darts in my private club!
Photographs by Thomas Kubik of TK Photography
Profiles of Childhood: Nicole Miles, Doula and Sitter, Chicago, IL
As told to Lela Nargi
I grew up on the Southwest side of Chicago and I’m the oldest of three girls. My parents were high school sweethearts and have been married for 28 years. My father works for the Chicago Transit Authority and my mother now works at a local university.
I’ve always been surrounded by babies and children; in church, in school, in my family, babies were always around. So, I loved children from a very young age. In elementary school, I would always volunteer to help out in the preschool class. My middle sister, Kayla, is only two years younger than I am but my youngest sister, Victoria, was born when I was 11 years old, so I became the built-in babysitter—this was the same year my mother opened a home daycare and I helped out there, too. My cousin had triplets my sophomore year of college and when I came home during the summer and holidays, I spent my free time with them.
I attended all-female schools from 6th grade through college, so I’ve always been surrounded by women, too. It was during my mother’s pregnancy with Kayla that I developed a love for medicine, specifically as it pertains to women’s health; I attended childbirth education classes with her and asked questions at her doctor’s appointments. During my senior year at Smith College, I became a trained doula. My passion is working with birthing women, helping them find their inner strength through the labor process. In Chicago, more women are choosing doulas and midwives during their pregnancy and it’s great to see this shift. One of my personal goals is to bring the power of the doula to every woman, especially in communities that are often overlooked.
Becoming a doula is not my ultimate plan, though—I’m in the process of applying to medical schools to become an OB-GYN. However, the personal care and education involved in aiding new mothers to bring life into this world has been invaluable. The first birth I attended alone was a moment I had to step out of my comfort zone. I was the doula on-call at a local hospital and I was brought in to help a mom who was experiencing labor pains and personal issues. This was my first time meeting her, right in the middle of one of the most difficult times in her life! All my training kicked in and the first thing I did was create a safe space for her. I let her know I was there to help in any way that I could. My biggest challenge was getting her to stay calm and trust her body. She had to tune out the world around her and focus on the moment.
In all, I’ve attended about 20 births, which is also helpful when I babysit. New moms appreciate that I’m a doula because I have experience with newborns and postpartum care. New moms, like laboring moms, need to be supported and reassured that their baby is fine and that they’re doing the right things.
When I babysit, I’m notorious for being a bag lady—I always bring homework and food. The kids I sit for always ask why I carry such a big bag. I tell them I’m talking science classes so that I can apply to medical school and become a doctor. The older kids like to see pictures or hear stories about the babies I care for. Becoming a doula has helped me become a better listener, comfort, and healthcare provider—all skills that will be important in my future life as a physician.
Photograph courtesy of Nicole Miles
Meet Katie: Nurse Practitioner, Hockey Fan, & Babysitter
As a pediatric nurse practitioner at the top hospital in the US, Katie makes her living helping children. Since joining UrbanSitter in 2015, she’s expanded her services to include babysitting for some of Boston’s coolest families. A lifelong Chicago Blackhawks fan, she says she uses her own passion for sports as a tool for connecting with new families and kids, and loves babysitting because of the lasting relationships she builds with families.
A Chicago-native, Katie recently moved to Boston to attend graduate school. Here, she tells us more about her life as a nurse practitioner, her passion for helping others, and what she loves about living in Boston.
You’re from Chicago originally. What brought you to Boston?
I came out here to go to grad school at Boston College, where I studied pediatric nursing.
Tell us a little bit about your work as a nurse.
I’m on the inpatient general surgery service as a nurse practitioner, and I manage children ranging in age from hours old to well into their 20s. Patients come from all over the world to have the surgeries that our hospital offers. My job mostly entails before and after surgery; getting patients prepared for the operation and making sure they are healing appropriately afterwards. At the end of the day, you have this goal of doing something good and changing a child’s life for the better. It can be hard, but it’s also really rewarding.
As a pediatric nurse and a babysitter, what is your schedule like?
I work four shifts of ten hours a week and then every fifth weekend, so I have random periods free time during the week. I have a lot of families that I sit for regularly, and I’ll send them my work schedule and they’ll work around it. A lot of families I babysit are not typical 9-5 families; they’re doctors or lawyers and so the changing hours work for both of us.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the families you sit for?
Boston is such a big city and so the families you meet are all very unique. I have babysat for dozens of families in Boston; some just once and some regularly. I’ve built relationships with parents who are professors, prosecutors, doctors, stay at home moms, and families traveling together for vacation or business who need a break from their kids.
Each family is unique and I enjoy the challenge of having to adapt to each family. I have one family that doesn’t even have a TV and another family that is fine with just giving the kids the iPad and letting them entertain themselves.
How did you first get into babysitting?
I was probably 12 when my neighbors asked if I could watch their kids for a few hours. I did it all through high school, and it was never about the money but more about helping out families that I knew. I’ve always loved kids! I was also a hockey coach in Chicago. I had a family that I met when coaching hockey and I loved the kids so much that I would have offered to sit for that family for free.
How did you first discover UrbanSitter?
When I was in grad school, I chose not to work. So when I graduated it was top of my list to get back into babysitting. Before I sat for my nurse practitioner boards, I was working at a prep school summer camp and one of the girls working there told me, “You have to get on UrbanSitter!” I’ve been using it for about a year now. I babysit maybe 3-4 times a week, and I make enough that I can afford the monthly payments on my student loans.
What do you do in your spare time?
We live right in the heart of downtown Boston, which I think is so fun. Being able to afford to live in the middle of the city and experiencing everything here is so great. My girlfriend and I also travel a lot, which we’re very fortunate to do. We’ll go skydiving, book an impromptu trip in Europe, or jump on a flight to visit friends across the US. We figure, why not do the fun stuff now?