Too many sitters, not enough kids |

Too many sitters, not enough kids

Those willing to pay premium rates should have no trouble arranging for a babysitter in Aspen on New Year’s Eve.

In fact, there’s actually more supply than demand in the local babysitting market.

As is the case across the country, sitters here are charging three or four times their usual rates to watch the kids this Friday night. Instead of $15 to $25 an hour, sitters are asking $50 to $85 an hour for the big night.

But while babysitting agencies in other cities around the country can’t keep up with the demand, Aspen hotels and agencies are getting more calls from willing sitters than parents in need of child care.

“A lot of mothers are calling me saying, `Geez, if you’re sending out my daughter at a hundred dollars an hour, can I work too?’ I’m getting more calls from people who want to babysit,” said Amy Semler, owner of Mom’s Day Out. Her agency is charging between $50 to $60 an hour this weekend.

Across town at Aspen Babysitting Co., it’s the same story. There are plenty of bookings but also “an amazing number of calls from all over the country from people who want to come here to babysit on New Year’s Eve,” reported owner Chris Barry.

At the Hotel Jerome and the St. Regis, where in-room sitting starts at $40 an hour for one child, concierge desks are getting more requests for jobs than the service itself.

Private sitters and agency owners suspect the steeper rates are scaring some parents away. But another factor seems to be this year’s slower season in general.

“Our guests don’t balk at the rates. It’s just that they’re not asking,” said Hotel Jerome concierge Patsy Pelaia. “The demand’s the lowest it’s been in years.”

Delores Hoffman Fisher, a 14-year veteran of ski season babysitting, notes that this winter her phone has been ringing a lot less than usual.

“Usually by now I’m booked up ’til March, but this year’s been very slow,” she said.

So, for parents who have waited until the last minute to arrange care for the kiddies on New Year’s Eve, local agencies still have sitters available. A list of private sitters can be obtained through the Snowmass Village Resort Association at 923-2000.

As an alternative to a private sitter, several parties for kids are also available. There are still spaces available in a number of group slumber parties, including one at the Red Brick Arts and Recreation Center in Aspen. Camp Ecology has organized a similar event at the Aspen Meadows, and Mom’s Day Off is also offering a small overnighter.

At the Red Brick, parents can choose either the half-night or full-night option. The kids’ New Year’s Eve bash will include food, movies, games, contests, rock climbing and gymnastics.

For more information about the Red Brick slumber party, call 920-5140. Camp Ecology can be reached at 920-8589. For more information on Mom’s Day Off call 925-8448; Aspen Babysitting Co. can be reached at 948-6849.

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