Your weight, your age, your salary. All things we don’t talk about, right?! Conversations about money can get awkward, but we’re not ones to shy away from tough topics. So here we go. Many of you have asked, “how much should I pay a babysitter?” It's time we tackle that topic!
Babysitters are an essential part of any family’s budget. Taking some meaningful time away from the kids has been SO key to the success of our relationship. It makes us better spouses, better parents, and better business people.
But here’s the hard truth: Babysitters don’t come cheap, and figuring out how much to pay a babysitter isn’t always cut and dry. There are so many things to consider! Experience-level, job responsibilities, number of kids, hours – you name it! Then there’s the question of hiring a babysitter versus a nanny. What’s the difference? Are there other budget-friendly babysitting options that make sense?
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Let’s tackle these questions together! We're going to share everything you ever wanted to know about how much to pay a babysitter. Plus, we've got an older video to share (we only had 3 kids – crazy now that we've got 8, right?) walking you through the thought process.
Let's go over how much to pay a babysitter so you didn't miss anything!
NANNY VS BABYSITTER: WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE?
Before we get into exactly how much you should pay your babysitter or nanny, let’s break down the difference. Here’s how we define the two.
A babysitter – A babysitter is typically a young teenager between the ages of 12 and 15, who probably have limited experience. Their hours are usually less frequent.
A nanny – A nanny, on the other hand, tends to be older and more experienced. They may be a senior in high school, a college student, or a newlywed. Most often, nannying is a career and primary source of income. Nannies usually work during set hours and have a predictable work schedule.
QUESTIONS TO ASK AS YOU DECIDE HOW MUCH TO PAY A BABYSITTER
Since nannies almost always have more on-the-job experience than babysitters, it’s only logical to pay them more. But here are a few other questions to ask as you’re thinking about much to pay your nanny or babysitter:
- How many years of experience do they have?
- How many kids will they be watching?
- How old are the kids they’ll be watching?
- Are they first aid/CPR certified?
- Will they be following your lead or planning their own activities for the kids?
- Will you be home while they’re there?
- Will the kids be sleeping while they’re there?
- Will they drive themselves to work?
- Will they do chores while the kids are sleeping?
These are all important things to consider, as the level of effort the caretaker will be expected to put toward the job should absolutely play a key role in determining the pay rate!
With those key questions out of the way, let’s get to the part you’ve all been waiting for! The ever-awkward salary conversation. Drumroll, please….
HOW MUCH DO YOU PAY A BABYSITTER?
Let’s start with a disclaimer: determining what to pay your babysitter is a personal decision. What works well for one family may not work for another. Pay rates in Utah will be much different from the going rates in New York or California. However, here’s what we’ve found works well! Feel free to take this guidance and modify it based on your family.
Our general rule of thumb for babysitters (remember, these are the younger, less-experienced caregivers) is $2 per hour per kid.
For a younger babysitter, let’s say a 12 or 13-year old; we may pay slightly less. For a babysitter who’s just coming over during naptime or after bedtime, we may also lower that rate a bit.
All that being said, we believe in generous tipping and rewarding a job well done. If we see a babysitter going the extra mile to bring toys and games to play with the kids, or taking the initiative to get their own ride to work, we’ll likely round up their pay and tip a few bucks.
For a nanny, our expectations are a bit higher, so the pay reflects that. The minimum hourly rate we’d suggest for a nanny is around $12 per hour. Because they have much more experience and will likely do household chores during the kids’ quiet time, it’s only fair to reflect that in their paycheck. It’s also important to remember that watching your children may be their main source of income.
As you’re deciding what to pay your babysitter or nanny, do a bit of research and determine the going rate in your area. Ask around! Find out how much your friends pay their babysitters and take a peek at job sites like Indeed, Sittercity, or Care.com to see what other families are offering.
BUDGETING FOR BABYSITTING
You may be wondering, how can I afford to pay for sitters? What if this just isn’t in our family budget? I’d argue that budgeting for babysitting is just a non-negotiable. For us, it’s something we make work. Here are a few pointers:
- Make babysitting a line item in your family’s weekly and monthly budget. If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you know we’re proponents of the 70-20-10 rule. If you’re new to the blog, here’s the gist. You should plan to use 70% of your monthly income on expenses, put 20% towards savings or paying down debt, and use the remaining 10% for tithing, investments, or a college fund. As you’re factoring in all the expenses that fall under the 70% bucket, make sure to account for babysitting.
- Consider starting a babysitting exchange program with your friends. Let’s say you have three other families you’re close with. Set up an arrangement where you take turns watching each other’s kids. Maybe you and your husband commit to taking Bob and Sally’s kids two Wednesday evenings a month, and, in exchange, they watch your kiddos one Monday evening a month and one Saturday afternoon each month. With a little creativity, you can easily secure a few free hours of babysitting!
- Divide and conquer! This is a core principle we teach. It’s so critical to figure out which spouse will take responsibility for tracking the budget and covering expenses related to babysitting. The simple act of defining ownership makes planning and staying on track so much easier!
OTHER AFFORDABLE CHILDCARE OPTIONS
Wondering about options beyond the traditional nanny vs. babysitter? Depending on your need and budget, here are a few ideas:
- Mother’s Helpers – For moms who work from home, mother’s helpers can be a great way to go! We’ve used mother’s helpers for years. Typically, a mother’s helper is a young teen or pre-teen looking to gain experience so they can pick up babysitting jobs in the future. We’ll often have a mother’s helper come play with our older kids for a few hours in the afternoon. This allows us to focus on our younger kids and household chores or work. And because we’re home and they’re less experienced, we can pay much less. (Think $2-$4 per hour!)
- Au Pair – If you have the extra space in your home, an au pair may be an option. Au pairs are live-in caretakers who typically work for a modest monthly stipend and free room and board. If you have younger children who require lots of extra care and you can swing the extra mouth to feed, this option could be a winner!
- Mother’s Morning Out – Many local churches, gyms, and community centers offer a weekly or monthly “Mother’s Morning Out” for a modest fee. These services allow you to drop your kids off to play with other children for a few hours while you take care of errands or work. The fees are typically much lower than what you’d pay at a traditional daycare or preschool.
Hopefully, this helps your family as you plan, budget, and pay for babysitting. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for determining how much to pay a babysitter, but these tips should put you on the right path.
If you’re looking for more guidance, here are some additional resources worth checking out!
- Learn how and why you should use one of your kids-free date nights to talk about finances.
- Start thinking ahead! Use these tools to map out your next year of expenses (babysitting included).
- Pick up a side hustle to help cover your babysitting budget!
Have a blast and enjoy date night!