Child Care And School Parent’s Evenings

At my son’s school you are not allowed to bring your child with you to the meeting with the teacher and you are expected to make child care arrangements.  There are a few slots just after school when you can leave your child in the library and they will be supervised, but there are only 3 of these per class per session.
Normally childcare isn’t a problem as my parents are close at hand, but this time they are away so it wasn’t so easy.  There is another close friend that could help, but the parent’s evenings fall on days that she is working, so that was no go.  So for the first time in three years I asked for one of the precious three slots.  I didn’t get it. Now I know that these slots are in high demand, but I’d never asked before and I did have genuine need of one.  It made me wonder then about how single parents manage.  Now it might be that the school know who they are and they make sure they get one of the slots.  There are at least two in J’s class, but there may be more.  Three slots doesn’t really go very far. 
The school say that you can book the children into the after school club if there is room, but the nights that they have picked for parent’s evening are the days when the club is fully booked anyway.  Even if there were places, unless you already attend regularly, you have to pay a joining fee and then the cost of the session.  It all starts to get a bit expensive. 

Babysitting

A babysitter is a temporary phase in life for many teenagers (usually girls).  It’s that phase when you’re old enough and capable enough to left in charge, but young enough to not have developed an active evening social life.  By its very nature it’s a transitional phase towards the end of secondary school and before jobs or university.
The difficulty with this transitional phase is that every so often you need to find a new babysitter and invest some time in them getting to know you and them getting to know your children.  There are lots of variables too.  Generally an older babysitter might be seen as better, but on the other hand they will be with you less time.  How old is old enough?  A friend had a younger babysitter than she would otherwise have chosen because her sitter was the neighbour’s daughter who she knew well.  Whenever she babysat it was arranged that her mother would be in, just next door, so there would always be someone to call on if there was a problem.
Does the babysitter need experience?  Is it better to have a teenager who has younger siblings, maybe of a similar age to your children, or one that is very keen with less childcare experience.  I used to babysit as a teenager and despite having younger siblings, I was rarely involved in their care (although I used to big it up when dealing with potential babysitting clients naturally).
It’s a difficult one especially if there isn’t a teenager that you know well nearby.  Then there’s the distance thing.  You’d want to walk or drive the teenager home or maybe put them in a taxi.  By the same note you don’t want having to take the babysitter home to impinge on your night out.
I mostly ask my mum to babysit, but then I feel guilty if I am out much past 10.30 as my mother likes to go to bed fairly early. 
What babysitting arrangements do you have?  What are your concerns about finding a babysitter?  Does the cost of a babysitter have an impact on how often you go out?