How Much Should You Pay the Babysitter?

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Figuring out how to pay a babysitter is almost as confusing as having kids in the first place. So here are some guidelines that will help you set the right rate.

With our kids now 12 and 14 years old, we no longer have to worry about babysitters. To be honest, the wife and I rarely used babysitters at all, even when the kids were younger. We were fortunate enough to have two sets of grandparents living nearby, and they’d usually fill in for us.

The few times we did hire a babysitter – a very nice teenage girl who lived up the street – I was always a bit befuddled regarding the appropriate rate of pay.

The last thing I wanted to do was underpay her. After all, everyone hates underpaid jobs. Then again, after spending $100 or more after a night on the town, I really didn’t want to overpay her, either. I usually ended up paying our babysitter $10 per hour, plus all the food and beverages she could consume from our pantry and refrigerator while we were gone.

The reason I bring this up is because my highly entrepreneurial daughter, Nina, has recently been expressing an interest in babysitting some of the younger kids in our neighborhood as a way to supplement the income she’s been generating from her car wash and miniature clay charm businesses.

So how much do babysitters get paid nowadays? Well, I did a bit of research and it turns out the answer is: It depends.

According to babysitting website SanDiegoBabysitters.org, babysitters typically earn somewhere between $5 and $20 per hour. However, there are multiple factors to consider when it comes to determining how much to pay them…

  1. Age and experience. Sitters between 13 and 15 years old should get as low as half the pay of an older or more experienced babysitter.
  2. Age of the kids. Add an additional $2 per hour to their base pay for newborns and $1 per hour for toddlers.
  3. The number of kids. Add an additional $1 to $2 per hour for each additional child.
  4. The cost of living. Big-city babysitters should expect to earn more than their country cousins.
  5. If additional duties are required. Add an additional $1 to $2 per hour if the sitter is required to drive the kids someplace, cook meals, or perform other tasks.
  6. Time of day. Because there’s less effort involved, evening rates can be a bit lower if the kids will be sleeping while the babysitter is on duty.

As a quick example, let’s say you hired a 15-year-old babysitter to watch your two toddlers so you and your honey could enjoy a quiet dinner and a movie. Let’s also assume a base rate of $20 per hour for an older, experienced babysitter…

$20/hr base rate + $1/hr premium for the first toddler + $1/hr premium for the second toddler + $2/hr for one extra child = $24/hr

But since our sitter is younger, we can cut that rate in half (to $12 per hour). Who knows, assuming your kids would be sleeping most of the time, you might even be able to shave a bit more off the rate. Or not.

Anyway, I think you get the idea. I know I do now. I just wish I had these guidelines when my kids were younger. At least I can now rest a little bit easier knowing that I wasn’t underpaying our neighborhood babysitter.

Stacy Johnson

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