How much I pay my babysitter is a physical manifestation of just how much I value my child's life and happiness. I value the person who will be responsible for calling 911 more than I value my waitress. I know we're not suppose to be prideful, however I take pride in what I pay my babysitters. It's due to being an undervalued babysitter in my youth.
I once was asked to go on 'vacation' with a family. (Vacation being an Amway seminar in Arizona) I spent 90% of my time trapped in a hotel room watching kids. After the 'vacation' was over the family didn't pay me, as the thought taking me on 'vacation' was payment enough.
This was 50% my fault and 50% the fault of my father. Yes, I blame my dad for my being an underpaid babysitter. My dad is a great salesman. He should have passed on his knowledge as to how to properly sell your product, that being: You tell people what you charge before you give them the product. You don't give someone a service and then gratefully take what ever they deem right to give to you.
This mentality of taking whatever someone thinks you're worth with out demanding what you think you're worth is a bad road to go down at the age of 12. If we teach our daughters when asked to babysit to tell people upfront what they charge for their services, in lieu of just taking what they're given- it sends a simple and powerful message to this young girl. It's a small means of empowerment to young women. Teaching a girl to evaluate what she's worth, put a price on it, and have the courage to ask for it, not settling for what someone else thinks they're worth and just taking it.
So, how does one pay a babysitter?
Ask the babysitter what she charges. If she says "whatever you want to pay me" start negotiating. Can I pay you in cookies? How's $1 an hour? Make her tell you what she wants to be paid. If she doesn't give a price, tell her she's not going to get paid at all. Most will under quote- so what ever she says, pay her more. Call it a tip.
She'll build self-esteem and be more attentive to the children, because it will be viewed as a real job. Hopefully someday we'll all take more pride in what we pay our care givers, than in what we paid for our jewelery.