Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Requests From Our Readers: Week 25

This week we are talking about paying babysitters... check out what our reader said.....

"I have a simple question for the blog: what's the "going rate" for babysitters?

We don't hire babysitters very often because we having willing family close by. But there have been a few times when we've needed a sitter and I always wonder if I'm paying enough. I remember feeling rich any time I got paid as a kid, but I somehow don't think it's like that anymore. When our son was little, I only felt comfortable calling older girls to tend and I'm sure babysitting wages seemed measly to them since they could get at least minimum wage at a real job with more hours, but is that what I should pay? I know it's worth it to have my child be in good hands, but I just don't want my adult perspective of economics to unneccesarily inflate babysitting wages. :) Now I've felt more comfortable calling younger girls, but still, how much do I pay? I don't want to be a cheapskate, but why pay more than is reasonable, right? I'm just wondering what the "going rate" is. I'd heard $1 per hour per kid or maybe $2 per hour since I just have one, but most of my absences are short and $2-3 just doesn't seem like much to hand someone. Also, do you pay more if they've had to do something inconvenient like feed the kids, put them to bed or change messy diapers? Or is that just part of the deal and good practice for being a mom one day?! :)

And, last question...what age do you think kids are ready to start babysitting? I know a lot of it depends on how mature they are even more than age, but I remember babysitting at age 10, maybe even before (of course I'd had younger siblings to practice on), but now I look at most 10 year olds and wonder if the moms that hired me were nuts! Or have times just changed?"

So help her out!

What do you pay your babysitters?

What age are your babysitters?

What types of things do you expect your babysitters to do?

Excellent question! Thanks for reading and commenting everyone.


Rebecca said...

I think $3/hr per kid. More if it's for a child under one and more for a babysitter age 16+. I haven't had a sitter yet for my child and will probably wait until she's at least 6 months and get a college-aged sitter then. What would I expect my babysitters to do? Leave the house in the same condition we left it in. My sisters expect their babysitters to clean more but I think you should only expect them to clean if you let them know that and are willing to pay extra to do so. Also, these pay rates are for Utah/Idaho. It varies from where you live. Where I grew up in Virginia it was $5/hr a kid. My SIL who lives in Oregon the going rate is $7.50/kid.

The Fishes said...

We have 2 kids, 2 & 4, and have only left them for a few hours a couple of times with college age girls. We felt comfortable with $7 an hour, so like $20 for 3 hours. I try to have things cleaned up and kids fed if possible, but make sure I leave some snack options as well. I mainly expect that the kids will have her attention. Play with them, interact somehow.

Chris and Laura said...

I haven't been able to bring myself to "hire" a babysitter yet for my 2 yr. old and 7 mo. old. I prefer to find another mom to swap with...I trust them more, and if we swap, that eliminates the need for money since we make it up later. I get nervous thinking of my kids with someone that bad?

I do know that average hourly rate for licensed in-home day care in Utah is around $4 per hour per child, for what that's worth.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I'm with Laura - I've never paid a babysitter before.... and I really don't want to. But I realize that there may come a time when I can't trade with another mom because maybe I'll have 4 kids and she'll have 4 kids.... so I don't know.

But, I would think that $3 per hour for one child is reasonable, but if there is more than one child maybe I'd just make it a standard $5-$7 per hour.... I'm not sure (because if someone is watching 4 kids for me and I'm doing $3 per hour for each of them then we are talking $12 per hour?!?! that's a whole lot). I think I'd also just hand over a blanket $10 to someone who watched my kid for a few hours to make it worth their time (like if I was only gone for 2 hours I'd feel guilty giving them only $6). I think you just be the judge - and the age of the girl makes a difference. Ask around to other moms in your specific neighborhood because that can make difference too.

I wouldn't pay extra to have my babysitter change a diaper, that's just silly. Or feed a child or put them to bed - that's part of the deal. But I would also not really expect her to clean up anything extra, but I'd like to see the toys cleaned up and the house not trashed (just leave it like it was when she got there... make sense?)

As for ages of babysitters.... this is where I get REALLY leery. I've only had moms sit my kids and my sisters occasionally (one of them is 13). I feel super uncomfortable leaving my babies with young girls. I am pretty comfortable with leaving my 1 year old or older with a girl as young as say 12.... but a baby, I'd never leave a baby with anyone younger than 18 and I'd prefer a mom. The reason for this is that I heard a very sad story from one of my son's nurses when he was in the NICU. She said her friend left her newborn with a young woman in her ward and the baby cried really loud for hours and the girl didn't know what to do and ended up shaking the baby and the baby died of shaken baby syndrome. I know we don't like to think about those types of things (I think I cried for 20 minutes after I heard the story, something to do with holding a newborn and being emotional after having a baby) but we do need to be cautious.

Heather said...

I have had to pay babysitters more often than I want. I do use the Young Women in our ward. We have a great 16-year-old who likes to babysit and I trust her for later night babysitting, but for late afternoon/early evening, I don't mind having a 12-13 year old girl, either. I think it definitely depends on the girl. One of my daughter's favorite sitters is 12 years old, but she has 4 younger brothers, including a 1-year-old who she's been helping take care of since he was a baby and her dad was deployed to Iraq. She is super capable with babies.

I pay about $5/hour for my two kids. Like Tannie, I always round up so it is worth their time. It is worth it to me if I need to go somewhere that I cannot take my kids because if they are paid more, I feel like they will want to come back. I want my kids to have a good relationship with their babysitters. I try to invite the same ones back--so long as they have done a good job. The nice thing is my daughter is 4 1/2 and will tell me exactly what happened in great detail. I expect the house to be found in the condition I left it, but would rather they played with my kids than did the dishes. I do not pay extra for dinner if it is necessary, but I always make it and they just have to finish eating when the sitter comes.

Tannie Datwyler said...

I guess I should clarify with the baby thing. I think I'd be reluctant to leave a newborn with a young girl. I'd probably be okay with leaving my 6 month old with a young girl, and maybe even my 3 month old.... it probably depends on the girl like Heather said. If I knew she had little baby brothers or sisters that she'd helped take care of as babies I'd be much more comfortable leaving my baby with her.

But I just get uncomfortable thinking of my tiny baby with a young girl.... don't know why. And my husband and I usually try to go on our first date at about 6 weeks postpartem (I usually need a good adult outing by then). :)

Tressa said...

Thank you, thank you everyone!!! I am so glad I asked the question because I really had NO clue! Either the young woman that told me $1-2/hr must really care more about being with kids than getting money or inflation hasn't hit here since the time I was a babysitter. This is SO helpful to to have your perspective!

I'm glad to hear that most of you think basic like diapers are just part of the deal - that's how I feel too. And I don't expect them to clean extra (I'd probably be a bit embarrassed about that!), but I do appreciate things left pretty much the way they were and that they spend the time playing with the kids and not texting or something like that.

I also prefer trading with other moms. I just don't worry as much and don't have to worry about the pay. One problem with this has been when we've wanted to go do something that would go late or that started after our son would be asleep - so we couldn't really take him to someone else's house (or didn't want the inconvenience I guess). Occassionally we've solved that by asking other married friends with no kids because when I was was single & newly married, I WANTED to be around kids and loved when friends would ask me to tend. I didn't even think about being paid, and felt silly paying them since they were just friends, had real jobs, and it wasn't a regular thing at all, but maybe they would appreciated something. What would you do? What do you do when you'll be gone past or after bedtime?...take them to a friend's to sleep? hire a sitter? just let them stay up late? ???

Thanks again for the great help!

Tressa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tressa said...

oops, I guess it did post the first time - sorry about that

On The Go Family said...

Here in Ohio, the going rate is about $7 hour.

The only thing I pay extra for is girls who provide their own transportation, because this can shorten my night by about an hour. I think everything else should be included -- diapers, bedtime, leaving the house in the same condition they found it, etc.

My main expectation is that a sitter play with my kids. I have one neighbor girl who always puts on videos, even if I tell her not to. Needless to say, I never call her. I try to limit the amount of TV they watch, and I feel like I should be the one to benefit from that one hour while they are distracted.

I have a newborn (2 months) and I'm nervous about leaving her with sitters, but I also really need to get out of the house. This summer I'm planning to hire a 16-year-old girl to come over two mornings a week to watch her while she's having her morning nap so I can go to the gym. I'll take my two older kids with me so they can play there (babysitting is already paid as part of my monthly membership fee at the gym.) I'm definitely not comfortable having a teenager watch all three kids -- I'm still learning how to juggle all of that myself! -- so this seems like a good solution. I definitely need a couple hours a week to do something for myself, especially since it's summer, and I know I'll be a better mom once I start working out.

Delia said...

I don't really LOVE to babysit probably because I got so burned out as a teenager and young college student. You women are all really generous and thoughtful to your sitters!

I used to get paid about $20 per night. I would make and feed the kids dinner. Play with the kids. Bathe them and then put them to bed. They were the kind of kids you had to lay in bed with until they fell asleep too. Then I would do the dishes, tidy up the house (so she would want to hire me back) and then do homework or fall asleep on the couch until 11 or 12 at night. I would like to expect that same kind of work ethic from 15 year old girls now but I don't think that is realistic anymore.

Fast forward to college. I got paid $7 to take care of six children ages 2-13. I was pretty much mom to them. I fed them breakfast and was with them for sometimes days at a time and she told me that while the kids were sleeping I wouldn't get paid!...even though I did laundry and cleaned the house (her orders) while they slept.

So whatever you do...just know that you aren't being unfair because all of your norms are really NICE and generous compared to others.

As for myself...I would prefer to have sitters come after the kids are in bed so my husband and I can just go to a late movie or something. That way they don't have to do much except be here, watch a movie and eat our food....and I don't have to feel bad paying them like $5-10 for 2-4 hours.