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How to figure out what to pay your babysitter

Have you ever wondered if you’re paying your beloved babysitter enough to keep her happy or if maybe you’re paying more for childcare than everyone else? As CEO of a company that connects babysitters and families, parents often ask me how much to pay a good sitter. To find out what people are paying for child care — and when and how often they book sitters, along with other sneak peeks into parent-sitter relationships — my company, Urban Sitter, surveyed and compiled data from 15,000 families across the nation.

What the Urban Sitter babysitter survey found

  • The average hourly rate for a babysitter is nearly $16 per hour for one child, $18 per hour for two kids and just more than $20 per hour for three kids.
  • San Francisco tops the list with the most expensive babysitter rates in the country. San Francisco parents pay their sitters about $16.50 per hour for one child.

More: 8 questions to help you find the perfect babysitter

  • Parents in Denver are paying the lowest rates (of survey respondents) — $11.57 per hour for one child.
  • Only 19 percent of parents tip their babysitter on every job. Those who add a tip to their sitter’s hourly rate do it on holidays or special occasions (like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day when competition for a babysitter is steep) or when a sitter goes above and beyond what is expected. When tipping, most parents simply round up, rather than giving a percentage of the total rate.
  • Despite the steep cost of hiring a babysitter, most parents surveyed book a sitter at least once a week. (We all need time away, whether it’s for work or play!)
  • More than half of parents in the survey spend at least $1,000 a year on babysitters.

More: Why mothers who take ‘me time’ are setting a good example for their kids

How do you know what to pay your babysitter?

While it’s helpful to know what others are paying their sitters, it’s also useful to know how babysitting rates are determined and understand what factors move the needle on the pay scale. Consider these four factors when determining what to pay your babysitter:

  1. Location
    Not surprisingly, childcare tends to cost more in larger metropolitan areas. Less urban areas are likely paying less than their big city counterparts. Check with your friends and neighbors to see what they pay their sitters so you have a sense of the going babysitting rate in your area, and can offer fair pay.
  2. Number of children and their needs
    You will likely pay a sitter more to babysit more than one child at a time. It’s not unusual to also pay higher rates for a sitter to care for a newborn, multiples or children with special needs.
  3. Experience of caregiver
    More experienced babysitters and nannies charge more than their less experienced, often younger counterparts. You’ll also pay more for extra qualifications they may have, including CPR certification, first aid training or early childhood education classes.
  4. Expected duties
    The more responsibilities you give your babysitter, the more you’ll need to pay her. This could include driving kids to and from school or activities, chaperoning play dates, helping with homework, cooking meals and handling household chores such as cleaning or shopping.

    While it can be uncomfortable to talk with your babysitter about money, the success of your relationships requires that you be upfront and open about what she expects to be paid and what you see fit. Sharing your expectations and agreeing on a pay rate that you are both comfortable with will save you from unwanted surprises or uncomfortable conversations later. The frank discussion will also show your babysitter that you respect and value the time she spends with your kids, and may just help you secure a spot on her schedule the next time you need her to lend a hand.

More: 9 Ways to deal when the kids like their nanny more than you

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