Help, I need a babysitter!

Your nanny just called in sick, but you’ve been preparing all night for an important meeting. Now what? By Thobeka Phanyeko

Take a deep breath mommy, you might not be able to take your baby to work because there’s no guarantee she’ll sleep through your meeting, but there are options available to you.

ALSO SEE: 5 reasons why you shouldn’t feel guilty about being a working mom

Day care

Most day care centres will be happy to accommodate your little one at the last minute. Google day care centres in your area and find out if they offer a daily rate. Your little one will be in the company of other children, and the teacher or carer may agree to send you pictures of your child throughout the day to reassure you.
Be sure to pack everything your child needs, from nappies to bum cream as well as her milk if she’s bottle feeding, bottles and a change of clothing. Find out from the teachers if you’ll need to pack any snacks.
Try to build a relationship with the teachers and assistants for future emergencies and for when your child is ready to start day care in the future.

How much? The average daily rate is R150 for half day and R175 for full day.Try, a resourceful website with listings for parents.

Day mother

If you want to keep your child in a homely environment because that’s what she’s used to, a day mother could be your best option. There would also be fewer children in this environment, so your child will get all the attention she needs − especially if this is her first time away from home. If your little one is still a baby, this option would also be ideal as this is like a home away from home. Find out from the day mother if you’ll have to pack lunch and snacks. It would be best to rely on references if you’re considering this option.

How much? This depends entirely on the day mother, but the average rate is R250 per day.

ALSO SEE: 6 reasons why you should use a childcare recruitment agency


A reputable agency can find a sitter who will be a good fit for your little one. Babysitting agencies offer short- and long-term services, so even if you need a night off, this option is for you. The sitter also comes to your house, which is convenient and will make your child more comfortable. For peace of mind, you can install cameras in your home or ask for regular updates as well as pictures of your little one. If your child is set in her routine, jot it down so the sitter also feels confident about doing her job. Going through a reputable agency usually means the babysitter will have CPR and first-aid training.

How much? R65 is the average hourly rate. Try


In addition to helping on a daily basis, a nanny can travel with you for work commitments and take care of your little one while you’re on a family holiday. You can either get a live-in nanny or someone who comes in daily, depending on your requirements. It’s advisable to go through a reputable agency to find the right nanny for your specific needs. A nanny placed by an agency would also have CPR and nanny training.

How much? For a temporary nanny, between R220 and R280 per day, or R4 500 to R6 500 per month full-time. Try

ALSO SEE: 9 questions you should ask in every nanny interview

A trusted friend or family member

Make a few calls to friends and family you trust to find out whether they can step in at the last minute. Whether you drop your little one off at their house or they offer to come to you, you’ll have peace of mind leaving your child in the care of someone you have a relationship with. Depending on the nature of the relationship, you will be in a position to discuss your financial situation and agree on a rate you’re both happy with.

Au pair

A junior level au pair will have between six months and one year experience. She generally only has experience with children aged four and over. She also doesn’t have any child care qualifications or first-aid experience and is generally aged between 18 and 22. She would have a car and a valid driver’s licence, and will be capable of looking after children from the age of four. She will drive children to and from school and activities, supervise them in the afternoon and do basic homework supervision.

How much? A junior-level au pair, who works Monday to Fridayin the afternoon, would earn a salary of R5 000 to R7 000 per month. Try

A professional or senior level au pair is someone who has two years or more au pair experience, is generally over the age of 25, and has formal experience with children. She would generally have completed a first aid course and have a child care or teaching diploma. She would be capable of looking after children of all ages, run
errands, drive the children around, take them to doctor’s appointments, supervise homework, assist with revision and test preparation, stimulate the children on a mental and physical level as well as tend to the overall emotional, developmental and psychological wellbeing of the children in her care. She is well versed in managing routine and structure as well as maintaining boundaries. She is able to communicate with teachers with regards to the children and report back to the parents.

How much? A professional or senior level au pair is generally seeking a long-term commitment with the family of at least one year or more with a salary of R7 500 to R10 500 per month. Try

Pay-as-you-go crèche

The Baby Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg is a first of its kind in South Africa and is a specialised facility providing supervised care for little ones from birth to six years old. A full-time nursery school is also available at the hotel as well as overnight facilities for moms who need a break. Moms flying in from other cities for business also make use of this service. Your child will be stimulated in this environment and the list of activities include messy play, sensory play, building blocks and puzzles.

How much? You can expect to pay R90 per hour midweek, R105 on Saturdays and R115 on Sundays. For a weekend stay (from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning), which includes meals, a bath, overnight monitoring and breakfast, it costs R1 550. You would need to call the facility at least 30 minutes in advance to make a booking. For more information, visit

Bambini Childcare at Montecasino, Johannesburg offers a fun and safe environment for children between the ages of one and 12 years. Your little one will be cared for by trained child minders at this access-controlled indoor playground. Activities include jungle gyms, Lego, drawing, reading, painting, dancing, play centre, TV and a sleeping room. You don’t have to book, so this option is ideal when you have last-minute plans.

How much? R65 per hour and R275 for five hours. For more information, visit

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