How much do you pay a babysitter?

Before we became parents, we never knew how much debate could be caused over the question of how much to pay a babysitter. But now we know better. It seems everyone has a strong opinion about how much a babysitter should be paid, and those opinions range from $2 to $25 an hour.

Enter, the babysitting conundrum: if babysitters are in high demand and you would rather pay on the low end of the scale, you risk having the competition take away your go-to, trusted sitter. But if you're paying on the high end while your neighbors are paying much less, you'll feel frustrated every time you for out the cash for date night/girls lunch/momma alone time/dentist appointments.

What's a parent to do with a quandary like this? The absolute best advice we've heard is to consider these questions, set a rate and then communicate that rate to your sitter before they accept the job. That way, expectations are matched for both parties, no one leaves disappointed, and you'll know if really need to be paying more (if the babysitter doesn't accept the job.)

Another great theory we've heard is to pay an hourly rate equivalent to the price of a movie ticket in your area. And if you're stumped on what to pay when you have only one child...or maybe a LOT of kids, try the $5 per child, per hour rule. (So if you have two kids you'll be paying $10 per hour, three kids and you'll pay $15, etc.)

Still thinking through how much you should pay? Here are some other points to consider when setting your rate:

  • Will your babysitter be driving to you or are you picking them up? Pay more for the convenience of a sitter who can drive.
  • Will your babysitter be expected to tidy the house, bathe your kids, make dinner or do any other jobs that can be tough to tackle? Pay more if so, and tip them if they go above and beyond.
  • Will your babysitter simply be keeping the kids alive — a.k.a. sitting with them while they watch a movie? Or do you want them to engage in more meaningful activities? Consider this when setting your rate.
  • How old is your babysitter? Pay less for younger, less experienced sitters and more for older, more experienced ones.
Luckily, the babysitting dilemma seems to get easier the more experience you have with it. You'll learn what babysitters expect, what other parents are paying and what you think is fair. Still, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comments below! 


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