Every week PJ Parenting writers weigh in on parenting issues large and small and you have the opportunity to share your insights in the comments section below. We’d love it if you’d join us for a cup of coffee and some great conversation!
Question: How much do you pay your sitters?
Kristina Ribali: What’s the going rate for a babysitter these days? Our kids are older now (almost 17 and 12) and we haven’t hired a babysitter in years, so I honestly had no idea what the going rate was. After asking around and reading the responses, I understand more now why couples with young kids don’t go out often.
The responses ranged from $5-7 per hour for two kids and some charged a dollar more per hour per child for more than two. One of the young ladies responded with: $6 an hour if the kids are well behaved. If they’re not and I know in advance, I usually just say I’m busy.” Smart girl.
Another gal let me know that really young children cost more per hour because “I can’t just play with them or put them to bed. They’re a lot of work.”
Hearing about the cost of babysitters today made me so grateful that we always had close friends or family around that watched our kids when they were younger. We’d trade off watching each other’s kids, or sometimes even pool resources and have a couple’s date night to make it more affordable.
Our church also had a date night where they blessed parents with a night out once a month. Couples could drop their children off for about three hours (for free) and know that their children were safe, having a great time and would be tuckered out and ready for bed when the night was done. The only cost to the parent was in exchange for this free night they would agree to volunteer for one date night in the future.
This was a lifesaver for us and many other couples who were trying to make our budgets stretch while also trying to focus on our marriage.
Grace L. Williams: Greetings from the Greater NYC Zone, where I very happily pay $10 per hour to a wonderful high schooler in my neighborhood. When she goes to college next year, I’m gonna cry. Hard.
Megan Fox: This is making me feel cheap. Seriously. But we’re poor, what can I say? I can only pay $5 an hour, plus a $1 for each additional child per hour, so that’s $7 (in Chicago) but I can’t afford more. Do my sitters hate me? I don’t think they do. I mean….they keep showing up.
Julie Prince: I pay $10 an hour in Ohio.
Tricia Lott Williford: I live among the mile-high babysitters of Denver, Colorado, and I have two boys, ages 8 and 9. My guys require a pretty low-key babysitting experience, since they are elementary age, certainly out of diapers, able to bathe themselves, and past the age of constant supervision. Their favorite things are riding bikes or playing games, and they’re straight up enjoyable young men. Babysitting my boys is not a huge sacrifice, but more of a play date.
I think the going rate in my area is $8/hour for a profile that matches our family, but I pay $10/hour. I’m willing to pay a couple extra bucks an hour because I want a longterm relationship with our sitters. When I call them, I want them to think: a) Yes, I love that family, b) She pays me enough to make it worth my time, and c) Yes, I’ll clear my calendar.
A babysitter for our family represents a mentoring relationship: I’m investing in the heart of this teenager, and the teen in turn mentors my children. I help them to know the expectations, the skills of having a job and reporting to an employer, and how to establish and maintain adult relationships centered around something other than themselves. I treat them with dignity and respect, and we keep long term relationships and dates on the calendar.
Our long-time babysitter is leaving for college in a couple of weeks, and her rite of passage marks a milestone for us, too. She’s been my right-hand girl for a number of years, the perfect mother hen to love my kids in my occasional absence. As my guys are getting older, we’re transitioning to some young men in our community who are just a few years older than my boys, whose parents value and teach the same things I do, and who are ready to make some cash by choosing friendship and responsibility.
It’s a good gig, for them and for me.
[See Brianna Sharbaugh’s 4 Secrets That Will Set Your Babysitter Up for Success]
Maggie Hamilton: We don’t use babysitters often because we live close to grandparents on both sides of the family. But, when we do, it’s usually around $8 an hour (Ohio). I babysat a lot growing up for one particular family with 3 sweet kids. Time with them was enjoyable and went really fast. Now that I have my own kids, I have found that the relationship I have kept with their mom to be invaluable. She was and is a great example and mentor for me, and often I send her a quick Facebook message to check-in or ask her opinion on a wide range of things. It’s been really neat to see how our relationship has changed over the years, although seeing her kids all grown up does make me feel a lot older!
Do PJ Parenting readers have other ideas to help the budget and give parents a night out?
See previous PJ Parenting Roundtables: