Ballpark Estimate: $10 to $15 per hour
Do you dream of spending a Saturday evening with your spouse, enjoying a glass of wine and talking over dinner out, no children allowed? In order to turn this vision into reality, you’ll need to hire a babysitter you can trust to care for your children while you have a night on the town.
Factors Affecting Costs
In today’s tight economy, when every dollar needs to stretch to cover all of your expenses, how much you spend on a babysitter can make a big dent in your monthly budget. Therefore, you’ll want to know how much to plan for this up front. Expecting what a babysitter costs can fall within a broad range. Factors that can affect the babysitter’s cost include the babysitter’s age/stage of life (such as whether she’s a teenager, senior citizen, or falls somewhere in the middle), how experienced she (or he) is, how much training the babysitter brings to the job, how many children will need watched, as well as their ages, and whether you expect any housework, including cooking, cleaning, and laundry to be done as part of the commitment.
Time of Day
The time of day and day of the week that you will need the babysitter can also affect the cost. If you plan to hire a babysitter during the day when your children will need constant supervision, some babysitters will charge more than they do when your children are sleeping. On the flip side, some babysitters go the other way and charge a higher price to stay at your home until the wee hours of the night than they do in the waking hours. To avoid any misunderstandings, you should always iron out these details with the babysitter up front so you don’t get any surprises before it’s too late.
Whether you use the babysitter regularly and provide her with steady work can also make a difference in how much to pay. If you keep your sitter quite busy, you may be able to pay a little less. If you only use the sitter occasionally, then expect to pay more. If the sitter will be required to drive your children to activities, you’ll need to add extra money into the pay to replenish the sitter’s gas tank regularly. If your children are quite young and active, you should also compensate the sitter accordingly since you can expect this person to be on her toes nonstop.
The part of the country in which you live can also make a big difference in what you will pay, since babysitters in major cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Boston will charge much more than similar caregivers located in rural areas. To find out the going price in your neighborhood, you can ask your colleagues and neighbors what they pay. They can also be a good source for babysitter referrals.
What to Look For
It’s important to be sure that any babysitter you are considering knows first-aid and is comfortable responding to any emergency. You can also look for someone who has completed a babysitter-training course, as well as infant/child first aid, since this will ensure she has the basic skills needed to care for your child in any type of situation.
Always ask for references and make sure that other families have had good experiences with this babysitter. Keep in mind, that if a babysitter comes highly recommended but doesn’t seem to be a good fit for you or your child, you should trust your instinct and find someone else. You can also visit the website for SafeSitter for more helpful advice and tips on finding a reliable babysitter.
How to Find
Some of the other ways to find a babysitter in your area include connecting with local babysitter-referral services that you can find online or contacting websites such as Babysitters, Care, 4Sitters, and SitterCity. Some sites have free searchable directories, while others charge a small membership fee (up to $10 a month) to use their services to locate a qualified babysitter who meets your specifications.
Finally, if your child attends daycare or school, you can ask whether any of the teachers offer babysitting services in the evenings or on weekends. This can be a great way to get a qualified babysitter whom your children will feel comfortable with and whom you can trust.
What It Costs
You can expect the price for babysitter to span a range depending on the many different factors described above. On the low end of the cost range, younger babysitters and those with less experience may cost $5 an hour. In addition, the price of $5 an hour range can be the going rate for experienced and mature babysitters in some of the more rural areas where the cost of living is quite reasonable.
On the other extreme, in areas where the cost of living is quite high you can expect to pay a price of as much as $25 an hour on the cost of a babysitter. This higher rate is typical even in places with more modest living conditions when you have multiple children or are using a babysitter who is very well qualified. That being said, many people end up somewhere in the middle, paying a cost of between $10 and $15 an hour for a babysitter.
So babysitters cost between $5 and $25 an hour, depending on a number of variables, with many coming in somewhere in the middle of the range with a price of $10-$15 an hour.
Hourly Rate Versus Set Fees
It’s worth noting that most babysitters charge by the hour. It’s usually best to round up to the nearest hour (rather than down), although if you’re paying a high hourly rate, it’s fair to pay just to the next half hour.
In some cases, your babysitter may prefer to charge a flat daily fee instead of an hourly rate. The price can vary, but many babysitters cost somewhere between$75 and $200 per day. Holidays, weekends, and overnights can be on the higher end of the price scale.
Extra Babysitting Costs
When you ask your babysitter to watch extra children, you can expect to be charged a price accordingly. For instance, if you usually pay your babysitter $10 an hour for one child, and you will be having a neighbor over the next time the babysitter comes, you should plan to pay her more for the additional child. The going rate in some areas is a cost of another $2 per additional child, but this is a very individual variable that you’ll need to work out with your babysitter in advance.
A Tip for You and Your Babysitter
On any given Saturday night, remember that you may be competing with multiple families for the same babysitter’s time. Therefore, it pays to be generous when you find a babysitter you particularly like. You might want to find out what kinds of snacks your babysitter likes and offer her some extra money to cover her time and gas. Finally, be sure to tip well. While tips are not required, they will certainly help make you a favorite client. How much to tip is up to you, but it can range from a $2 to $3 each time the sitter comes to $200 to $300 annually as a special thank you for a sitter you use regularly. In the latter case, such a bonus is usually given during the holiday season.
A Cost-Saving Option
If you find that the cost for a babysitter is more than your budget can handle, you don’t have to give up on your plans completely. You may be able to partner with friends or colleagues and take turns babysitting for each other’s children at no cost. This is a great way to get your alone time without spending a fortune. Another cost saving option is to get together with a few other families and share a babysitter for a group of children.
Remember that for multiple children, you’ll need to pay more per hour, but the price can still be less than hiring a babysitter on your own.