Who Watches The Kids In Germany?

Childcare in Germany is a big deal. I’m usually not involved, because I don’t have kiddies of my own at the moment, but now that school is out I am hearing quite a bit about this from my friends.

In Germany, a good daycare spot, known as Kitaplatz, is a prized item. The government subsidizes the cost of daycare for children over three, but this is coordinated through our child services and visitors won’t have the Gutschein. This is the document that tells how much childcare subsidy you have and how much from your own pocket must be paid (it’s a sliding scale based on income).

However, even with the right papers, most formal places have different holiday hours, and they don’t always accommodate older children or teens. This means to find someone to mind the children for a few days, or even a few hours, can be a stressful project. This is true if you are resident of Germany, but it is doubly true if you are just visiting. Who can you turn to for a bit of babysitting?

Locals often have a Tagesmutter, or child minder. These are loosely licensed caregivers who may have completed a course or two in First Aid or child care. A good Tagesmutter is fiercely prized, but if you have local friends they might share with you while you are on holiday.

You can also ask around for babysitters, which is the same word in English and German. If you don’t have a local friend’s recommendation, most towns have Babysitter-Agenturen in the phonebook. Your hotel may also have a recommended provider if you ask at the front desk, who will come to the hotel to watch your children or grandchildren.

However you find them, babysitting and Tagesmutter services are not always so cheap! Plan to pay at least 10 euros an hour, with more due in big cities, for infants, for multiple children, for last minute jobs, and for overnight work.

My friends point out that tipping is not required, but if you want to use the babysitter or Tagesmutter again it is a good idea to slip them a few extra euros to ensure they are not “busy” when you call. This way, when you come out to meet me while you are in Germany, you will be sure to have someone to watch your kids! ;-)

—Marcus

 

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