Paying the Babysitter

shutterstock_62187733.jpgThere are a few things that I am willing to pay for, really pay for, in life. Sanity, er I mean a good babysitter is one of them. I have found that some time alone with my spouse for a date night is worth its weight in gold. And let’s face it, great babysitters are a rare commodity.


The first rule of babysitting is that I want my kids to be safe. Second rule is that I want them to be happy and have fun. The bottom line is that you’re leaving your most precious creations - even though you’re trying to escape them for sanity you don’t want anything to happen to them.


Truth be told, my oldest could be left to her own devices and so I’m really only paying the sitter to entertain my six year old which amounts to watching movies, listening to her tell stories, and watching her “shows” while she plays dress up. It’s a pretty lucrative gig.


I typically start at the base rate of $8.00 per hour, especially if the babysitter provides his/her own transportation. According to the going rate in Dallas, TX is $11.25 per hour and according to the rate in my area is $10.00 per hour. But, both sites make several assumptions that aren’t true to my area. In my area sitters are typically not above the age of 18. The two sitters I have currently are 14 and 16. That’s starting them above minimum wage. I feel comfortable with that.


If you’re ever in doubt what to pay your sitter the best token of advice is to ask them. If they’re smart they’ll answer you something like, “most people pay me between X and Y” and they may even add “but I’m good with Z”. That gives you a range and/or a firm hourly rate that they, too, are comfortable with.


There are a few things to keep in mind when calculating sitter pay. If you’re starting with someone who you want to stay with you for quite some time you’ll need room for raises, so don’t start out at the top of your pay scale. Nights, especially weekend nights, call for a bit of a bonus, especially if you find yourself competing – as we do many times in the military – with several families attending the same event. If you get a sitter who can drive and provides his/her own transportation as well as emergency transportation should it be needed be sure to tack on a gas allowance. If you require a sitter to be present with short notice you may want to take into consideration how flexible they were to help you out. If you’re requiring your sitter to do extra tasks – like preparing meals or cleaning – you would want to compensate them for the extra work.


Last but not least, PAY ON TIME, I cannot stress this enough. Before you even head back to your home make sure you hit the ATM. Your sitter is probably too nice to remind you when you forget and don’t have cash on hand and that most likely will be the last time he/she agrees to a job.

Remember, just like you move the babysitter who your children love and request to the top of the list, your sitter will move the family that takes care of him/her to the top of their list. Your goal is to find that exceptional sitter and hang on to them – in other words, make your house their preferred destination.




How much do you pay your babysitter per hour?


How did you find your sitter?


Do you do any “extras” besides money to be sure your exceptional sitter stays happy and your house is a preferred destination?