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Are You Paying Your Babysitter Enough? Here Are the Going Rates

As a parent, you have those moments when you just HAVE to get out of the house for an adults-only event. A brief respite from booger-wiping and crumb-sweeping. A dinner alone, just the two of you, where nobody has to get up to use the potty right as the food comes and nobody has to be reminded 2,467 times to KEEP THEIR BUTTS IN THEIR SEATS. So you call up that trusted babysitter and pray they’re available for a few hours on a Saturday night once every couple of months.

Of course, you realize this night out is going to cost more than the listed price for the dinner special. Because that trusted babysitter? They need to get paid. And depending on how many kids you have and how long you plan to be out, it’s gonna cost you a pretty penny.

But exactly how much should you be forking over to the keeper of your little ones? According to a recent SitterCity publication, it may be even more than you think.

Depending on where you live, the going rates for a babysitter vary, but the general consensus is it’s about $15 per hour — and even more if you have more than two children.

Some areas, such as Detroit, have a going rate of only $8.50 per hour, which makes me feel pretty good about the $10 or so I’ve been paying my sitters. But other areas — such as Austin, Chicago, and New York — have going rates of $18.60, $18.85, and $21.09 per hour respectively, which means if you plan to catch dinner and a movie, you might also want to take out a second loan on that mortgage.

And all of this doesn’t include other factors you should take into consideration. For each additional child after 2, for example, you should plan to fork over another $1 or $2 per hour. If your sitter has special certifications, such as extensive experience and first-aid training, plan to tack a couple more bucks onto the hourly rate. And if you want them to do more than make sure the kids don’t kill each other and get to bed at a semi-reasonable time? That homework help and tidying up after the kids fall asleep is going to cost you extra.

And don’t forget about hiking up the price on special occasions, such as New Year’s Eve or Halloween, or when travel of any kind is involved, including picking the kids up from practice or taking them to the park.

Added all up, it kind of feels like saving your sanity 4 times per year might not be financially worth it.

If you do decide to take the plunge and hire in childcare, though, it’s only right to provide fair compensation that is both reflective of the current rate and considerate of the duties involved. After all, you are entrusting these people with your most precious of cargo. And given everything they do, both for you and your children, they deserve to be paid appropriately.

Babysitting is a tough job. I was terrible at it myself before I had kids, and truth be told, I don’t care for it all that much even now that I have children of my own. So when I find a good caregiver, I hold onto them for dear life. And now, I will be reevaluating what I compensate them for their time and expertise as well.

To see the full breakdown of going rates by city, check out the SitterCity chart here.