Moms Talk Q&A: The Babysitter

This week's Moms Talk discusses the importance of having a babysitter and the going rate our moms council pays to have a sitter watch over their kids.

This summer our regular babysitter has been vacationing, and we have had to use other sitters in the interim--mostly on the recommendation of a friend or friend-of-a-friend. One of them charges much less than our regular sitter, and that got me thinking...

Q: What is an appropriate pay scale for a babysitter these days?? Do we pay too much? Does our sitter's higher education deserve a higher pay?

A: I rarely leave my youngest child with a babysitter, and if I do, it is usually a family friend. With my oldest being old enough to babysit, I use him for my other children. However, being as busy as a teenager can be, I have a regular need for a reliable sitter who I can call on a whim that also enjoys being with my kids.  

We pay our sitters $10 to $15 per hour, depending on the circumstance. New Year's Eve is usually more expensive, but worth the extra few bucks. I like for our sitters to be an extended part of our family, and we like to celebrate birthdays and other holidays with them. This also makes it easier to bring issues to their attention or ask a favor, and vice versa. The only downside to this arrangement is truly missing them when they are away for an extended period of time!  

We miss our Morgan, and hope she can hear us on the sunny beach-- come back soon!!

A: The politics of childcare are unexpectedly complex. Reliable, mature and responsible childcare is a commodity even in an area where families are so prominent in the demographic.

I've been very particular about hiring someone and find that offering "occasional" work is not enough to keep a regular babysitter interested. I have friends who have babysitters on retainer so other families can't "pirate" their services. As a teenage babysitter I do not recall a time when I didn't make time to earn money, usually easy money. Summertime especially can be very expensive and tricky. 

My solution is to use an agency and match my needs with the availability of the sitters that I prefer, the cost of this service although slightly more expensive is worth it to us. Strangely enough I have asked a few young neighbors and relatives to provide care for my children and have been disappointed at the lack of interest. I have asked for recommendations from friends and have come up empty handed.
I usually pay between $10 to $15 per hour, but ask them what the rate is before beginning. If I have a sitter I like, I try to remember them during the holidays, birthdays, etc. Au Pair's and nannies deserve extra pay and bonuses, but they provide an exceptional amount of flexibility.

Maureen July 10, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Childcare workers are severely underpaid and usually available for side jobs. They have experience, well qualified, and background checks. See your daycare facility.
Michelle Helms July 12, 2011 at 02:29 PM
Great suggestion, Maureen. Thank you!
Candi July 13, 2011 at 09:05 PM
The current babysitting pay rate encompasses a wide range of pay. How much you pay your babysitter can vary widely depending on where you live, how much experience the babysitter has, how many children she’ll be watching, what the ages of those children are, and what her duties will be. Babysitting rates can be anywhere from $5 to $20. Here are some considerations that affect the babysitting pay rate. In general, mother’s helpers, who aren’t fully responsible for the care of your children, but are there to assist you, get paid less. Teens and younger babysitters tend to have a lower babysitting pay rate as well. Major metropolitan areas tend to command the highest pay rate. The babysitting pay rate may be higher in cases where a babysitter has more years of experience, is caring for more than one of your children, is caring for infants rather than a pre-teen, and has specialized training such as CPR certification or early childhood education. Babysitters who have a greater degree of responsibility, such as driving your children or teaching them a specific skill can command higher rates as well. If you’re wondering what the prevailing wage rate is for babysitters in your locale, you can check with friends and neighbors, other parents, and local parent associations or clubs. At Care4hire.com; when searching for a caregiver, you can sort by expected salary. http://www.care4hire.com


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