I have wondered on multiple occasions, how much I should be paying our babysitters while we're out on a date. And it's a question that I revisit time and time again. Once I settle on the hourly rate that we pay our babysitters, I start to wonder if that should vary based on the time of day they're at our house, whether the kids are napping or not, if the sitter has to put together a meal, how late at night we're gone and whether or not they had the kids pick up their mess before we got home.
I decided to end the debate once and for all and asked this question in a few different Facebook groups, requesting that people share the reasons for how much they pay (or don't pay). I thought I'd be able to compile a good guide for how much to pay your sitter, but the responses were so varied and included so many great responses, that I thought I'd just share all of the answers. There were some great points made, and all of the thoughts and opinions helped me to formulate my own pay scale for our babysitters, so I'm hoping it will do the same for you!
I'm going to be transparent and share the real numbers of what we pay our babysitters when we go out for date night. We have two toddlers, 16 months apart, and we pay $5 per hour that they are at our house. When we're planning and budgeting for date night each month, we factor in $20-$30 per date to pay the sitter. The minimum amount I'd pay a sitter is $10, so even if they're only there for an hour, it's worth it to them.
Paying a steady rate per hour feels fair when we consider what time of day they'll be there, whether or not they'll be putting the kids to bed, if they'll need to fix them dinner or not and all of those other things. I even asked our two sitters what the going rate was when they babysat and they both said that they get $5 per hour no matter the number of kids or who they're tending for.
There have been some occasions when we've been out later than we planned, the babysitter went above and beyond with taking care of messes made while they were there, or there were extra messy diapers that had to be changed. Those are the times when we've paid a bit more. I ALWAYS start my timer from the time the babysitter gets there because I'm generally rushing to finish getting ready and they always take over and help out with entertaining the kiddos, changing diapers or getting them fed so that we can get out the door.
I don't remember what we paid when we just had Bensen so I couldn't tell you whether or not we pay more now that we have two kids than we did when there was only one. I do remember that for the first year of Emmy's life, we always had two girls at our house tending while we were gone. Two kiddos under the age of two are busy and things can get chaotic and overwhelming really quickly, especially at bedtime.
During that time, we paid a few dollars more per hour so that the night's pay was fair when split between the two of them. We weren't able to go out as often because our budget was a lot tighter due to medical bills from Emmy's delivery and subsequent hospital stay and paying our sitters more depleted our date night fund quicker than usual. We took advantage of grandparents who were willing to hang out with two cute kids every once in a while and became big fans of our at home date nights.
As soon as we, and our babysitters, felt that we were ready for one sitter at a time, we were able to cut our date night budget back to normal and switch off between the two of them. We go out more often and they each make more when they tend for us, so it was a win/win situation.
The quotes below don't include all of the responses that I received when I posted my question to different Facebook groups. I pulled the ones that I felt gave the best and most helpful information and that represented the opinions expressed by others in the thread in a good way. Although I feel good about how much we pay our sitters right now, there were some interesting points shared that I will definitely be considering in the future.
"I used to have a babysitting club for my daughter and her friends. We had the girls earn based on their experience, age, [could they provide their own transportation], did they know CPR, will they clean the house while the children are asleep?
"We charged [hourly] per child [starting] at $2/child and went up from there. [We also charged a convenience fee of $5 if the babysitter would be driving themselves]. Single children were a little more so that it was worth it to the babysitter and infants were more too. This was six to eight years ago so the numbers may look different, but those are the things we looked at."
"I always charge [people per hour/per kid]. I charge $2.50/hour per kid. If I will have to change diapers, I charge $0.50 more for just that kid per hour. For example, we pay $8 an hour for our kids; We have two that are potty trained and one that is not. We always provide food for the kids and the sitter. If the parents of kids that I'm babysitting don't help with food, I charge $0.50/hour per kid."
"One babysitter I have goes the extra mile and cleans up my entire home while engaging with my two kids. We pay her $5/hour per kid. Other sitters are more lazy and barely keep my kids alive. We pay them $2.50/hour per kid."
"I pay $3/hour per kid. I only expect [our sitters] to watch and play with the kids, no extra chores."
"I pay $5 for the first kid, then $2-3 for my second. If they clean, they get a bonus. Time is money and I value their time to watch my kids so that I can go on a date. It also depends on where you live. The going rate in California for a babysitter was much higher."
"I pay $1 an hour extra if the babysitter drives to me."
'We pay a base of $13 per hour plus extra if they clean. That's for two kids, two and under. We live in Wyoming and we have a hard time finding a sitter, so the better we pay, the easier it is to find one."
"I discuss with the babysitter what they feel is fair beforehand. I don't base my prices off of any other parent. If they go above and beyond, I will pay more. If said babysitter is charging more than I would like to pay, I don't hire them."
"I pay at least $10/hour or $2/hour per kid (I have six). I also give bonuses for kid in bed/house clean."
"When I was living in New Orleans, I was in college and I charged between $15 and $20 an hour for babysitting. Most of the kids I babysat were under the age of 7 and typically it was 2 children I was watching. It didn't matter if they were awake the whole time or if I had to put them to bed. The parents never asked me to clean up their house, just clean what messes we made.
"When I was in high school I charged $10/hour, no matter how many kiddos there were. I was CPR certified and in a few of these situations, I was also tutoring the children so I got paid a little extra for doing that while babysitting."
"Under 16 it's $5 per hour. Over 15 it's $8 per hour."
"If 12-13, we pay $8/hour. If 14-15, we pay $9/hour. If they can drive themselves and are 16-18, we pay $9-10/hour. College aged is $12/hour. We provide dinner and expect kids to be asleep when we get home and the house to be as tidy as when we left it."
"We pay $20 a time, no matter what. I feel like babysitting for $10 is hardly worth it, so if we go out for two hours or for four, they get $20. We have two kids, but we only leave the three year old. I remember being a teenager and babysitting four boys and only getting $3 an hour and I was bummed. I want those who babysitting for me to want to come back."
"I pay my sitter $6 an hour plus a tip if the place is picked up when I come back!"
"We pay $7/hour when our two girls are awake and $5/hour when they are asleep. We sometimes throw in a little extra if it's a weekend night because those are precious to teenagers."
As you can see, there is honestly no good, solid answer to give people when they're deciding how much to pay a babysitter. Where you live, the age of the babysitter, the number of kids you have and their ages, the experience and certification that the sitter might have, if they take care of meals and clean up, everything could potentially be a factor in how much you decide to pay.
I loved the suggestions to talk with your babysitter beforehand. Talking to other families in your area with similar family sizes and kids the same age as yours might help you to make your decision. Like I said, a few of the things that were mentioned in the comments above made me reconsider how much I pay our sitters and why. I hope that those of you who are on the fence about how much you budget for date night and babysitters or who are not quite in that stage of life yet or looking forward to it in the next little while got some good information and tips from this post.
I'd love to hear how much you pay your babysitters and why you pay them what you do, whether you agree with something that was mentioned above or have a different opinion or way of thinking that you'd like to share. Feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below or join the conversation on Instagram!
Photography by Sadie Banks Photography