Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How Much Should I Pay My Babysitter?

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.


Kamilli Vanilli said...

Ah yes.... The babysitting payment dilemma.
I wish there were more communication between the employer and employee when it comes to babysitting. Not just how much does the babysitter charge, but what does the employer expect in return? For the children merely to be alive? For the house to be clean and dishes done? For the babysitter to actually play with and interact with the children rather than just sit in front of the TV while the children wreak havoc throughout the house?
Standards have been lowered over the years, I think. Now it's just enough that the kids are alive and not too emotionally scarred. Probably our fault for not making it clear what we expect.

Salt H2O said...

Great point!

It wouldn't hurt to ask after she tells you what she charges is included in her fee. Is she CPR certified? I'd pay an additional 50 cents an hour for that. Does she play games with the kids? Do the kids go to bed ontime or is it the 'I make sure your kids aren't dead' contract?

heidi said...

i'm pretty lenient with what i expect my babysitter to do with my kids. i guess i am just that desperate for a date with my husband. however, i only ever ask girls who have shown interest in my children at church and who seem to have a real interest when i broach the subject with them. if they seem squeamish, then conversation is cut short. i have never been disappointed with this method of babysitter acquisition.

i always ask my baby sitters what they think they should be paid and then i add a dollar. i think some girls are afraid to talk money with a someone from church. i save them the agony by being quite upfront about payment. i tell them they are worth it and i hope to make them our go-to girl. i think i sweeten the deal(if you can sweeten babysitting) by ensuring that we will use them often and that they are important because our kids are important.

Amanda said...

As I don't have children yet this is the perspective of a former baby-sitter. I baby-sat for one family consistently for about 5-6 years. They paid me well (between $5 - $10 about 12-15 yrs ago). It was a good deal for both of us. I gave them at least one weekend night throughout HSm almost every single weekend. They even gave me Christmas bonuses (like $100 GC to the mall, which was a big deal to my 15 yr old self). They were not LDS, which I always figured was why they didn't pay me $2/hr. I gave them first choice over every other family that called me to baby-sat; they had a baby-sitter almost whenever they wanted whom they trusted and I had a steady stream of income from them. And as a bonus - I really did adore their daughter and kept in touch with that family after I left for college because I loved their daughter so much.

The Boob Nazi said...

I was never asked to babysit as a teenager, so I'm quite bitter about it.... However, I do babysit my nieces and nephew for the payment of pizza for dinner. (And the joy of their company haha.)

Candi said...

Tips on paying your babysitter from

Steve said...

I think it really varies based on needs and expectations, obviously. But for the most part, if you are going out for the night (hahaha), then really you just need someone able to get them to bed (or less if you wait to eat dinner at a normal time again after you have gotten them to bed around 7:30), thus the babysitter is really needs no more talents than a dog sitter, someone to make sure it is still breathing and if not, call 911; therefore not much $. But if you want someone more like a nanny, to play, spend several awake hours, be nice, etc., then you need to pay. The going rate in DC is $15-25 an hour for someone with skillz. And that is if you know the person!

davers said...

Couldn't agree more. We have the best babysitters - they happen to be teenagers ... but they LOVE our kids and our kids love them back. I know some parents who will pay a teenager far less than an adult care-giver, and while we pay closer to what a teenager expects I know we don't try to low-ball them - we want the best ... it just so happens to be that right now the best is a teenager who sadly will go to college next year.

Jo's Outlet said...

Steve - I am glad we don't live in DC!! We'd never be able to afford to go out. Oh well. Unless all jobs are highly-paid in DC.
I think I'm with Heidi 100% on this. I ask, and then I offer, and then I just pay what seems right. We have a 13-yr-old sitter and an 18-yr-old sitter that are pretty regular (like 1x or 2x/month). I go with $5/HR, and round up. Are we cheap??? The cost of living in Indiana is super good. Plus, we're not rich. We only go out if we have coupons.

This was tough when I was looking for daycare a few years ago. Of course my child is worth a million dollars a week, but I can't afford to pay The Goddard School's rate. So we go with the "ghetto" daycare (I apologize for the offensive slang - but this is what the daycare manager even jokes it is.) My kid is safe, happy, active, fed, and cared for - all at a reasonably low rate. Would I rather he be reading by 3? Of course. Can't afford to have someone else teach him right now, though.

Holly said...

Honestly...I hated it when people would ask me what I "charged" I don't ask:) We pay our sitters really well though, so I think they'd be dumb to tell me if I asked:) I definitely pay more if the dishes are done, the kids are in bed, etc. When they do those things, it really shows me that they know what they're doing, and that they want to come back another time.

crgone1 said...

Where did you get the babysitting Pic at the top of your blog. Thanks

Salt H2O said...

That babysitting picture has brought a lot of people to this blog- I wish I had a better answer, but I pulled it off of google images.

Elizabeth R said...

So glad to read that another mom has the exact same opinion as I do! My friends think we're crazy for what we pay our babysitters. Yet I don't feel comfortable in leaving my most prized possessions without properly motivating their caretakers to keep a good eye on them.

That being said, we don't go out very often because it's so expensive. :)