Do you need an occasional night out without kids to refresh and recharge? A time to nurture your adult relationships? I think we all do. But is it in your budget? Sitters are expensive, which means going out even for a casual night on the town can be costly. The expenses add up quickly when you add the cost of your meal or activity to the babysitting fees. Even so, it may be worth it to you to have an adult evening once in awhile. Once you make the decision to hire a sitter, the next question is how do you decide what to pay? What is a reasonable price per hour? And do you tip and if so, how much?
It’s important to pay a competitive rate to attract a good babysitter, especially when you use them sporadically. You want the sitter, whether you use an adult or a local teenager, to be excited to come to your house when you need them. Unfortunately, after taking an informal poll of parents in different cities, no one answer seems to answer the payment question. There are guidelines though that will help you figure it out.
Factors that influence babysitting costs:
1. Cost of living and minimum wage laws can influence hourly rates.
Recent Sittercity data shows the national average hourly rate for babysitters in 2019 is $15 per hour. You might want to find out from other parents in your area what they pay their sitters.
2. Number of Children
A lot of babysitters negotiate their hourly rate based on the number of children left in their care.
Your babysitter might charge a base rate for two children and an additional $2 per hour for each child after that. Expect that the more children the sitter is watching, the more you will need to pay.
More experienced babysitters often charge more for their services — just like in any profession. Are you willing to pay more for someone with experience? Make sure to weigh your needs against their skill level, and if you decide you prefer a sitter with experience, expect to may a higher fee.
4. Location and Transportation
If the sitter will be taking your kids to activities, offering a transportation or gas stipend is only fair. Note: You’re not obligated to pay your sitter’s cost of transportation to and from your home — that comes with the territory of having a job.
Caregivers should be compensated if providing extra services. If your sitter is expected to pick up the kids from soccer practice, help with homework, make dinner, clean up afterward and then do a bedtime routine, you need to pay extra for that help. And, if you can find someone to do all that, and you like them, they are worth every penny. Good sitters are hard to find. On the other hand, if your sitter comes after the kids are in bed and watches a movie until you return home, it’s OK to offer less than the person who helps with chores and activities.
The key is communication – discuss your expectations from the start and ask questions so you understand their needs and limitations. If it’s important to you that the sitter does general housework when you’re out, you might want to let them know you’re willing to pay more.
If you need a sitter for a short period of time in the middle of the afternoon when it’s difficult to find one, pay a little more. The same goes for the sitter who works on holidays, especially New Year’s Eve. It’s also a good idea to offer a bonus if you keep the sitter later than stated up front.
Tally it Up
Once you have a number in mind that you believe is fair and competitive, talk to the potential sitter — and don’t shy away from a little negotiation. Express your points clearly and ask for feedback. Make sure you agree on the fees and expectations. It’s important to foster a good relationship with the sitter so you can leave your home feeling comfortable.
The Bottom Line:
Babysitting costs can be expensive, but you are asking someone to provide a service catered specifically to your family, and entrusting your precious children to this person.