Are you paying your babysitter too much?

Babysitters can cost a pretty penny. Should parents be looking for a discount?

Photo by hidesy, istock.com

Want a night off from the kiddies? It’ll cost you. Babysitters are making a decent income from watching your little ones.

As if having kids isn’t expensive enough, taking a little time for yourself racks up a hefty price tag. Add up the cost of a nice dinner with movie tickets plus munchies, and you’re looking at spending a pretty penny. Now tack on the cost of a sitter!

The Huffington Post recently ran an article about babysitting rates in the States. According to urbansitters.com, the cheapest rate for a babysitter is in St. Louis, Missouri, at an average of $9.50 an hour. The swanky New York suburb of Manhattan has starting babysitting rates of $15.50 an hour. Meet me in St. Louis for a cheap sitter, anyone?

Going rates differ from place to place. In many Canadian cities, expect to pay between $10-$15 an hour. The price varies based on how many kids, their ages and what credentials your babysitter possesses.

St. John Ambulance offers a one-day course for young babysitters, teaching them the ropes of CPR, what to do in an emergency and how to care for infants. The course costs $60. Our young sitters need to make back their course costs somehow, right?

The price of a sitter today (and the laundry list of credentials they use to pad their resume) are a far cry from my days as a babysitter when I would fawn over the rarity of a $20 bill. As an enterprising tween, I even started my own babysitting company.

In the mid-’90s, on a warm summer afternoon, my best friend and I lay on my bed, our legs kicking the air as we intently drew bubble letters on the homemade posters we intended to plaster all over the neighbourhood. “The Best Friends Club! Babysitters 4 Hire! Pick your price! 12-year-old and 11-and-a-half-year-old who love kids. One has experience with babies, call 457-xxxx!”

Though we had no formal training, no protocol know-how in CPR, no certificate from the Babysitters Training Course to brag about, I had a baby brother, 10 years my junior, who I’d burped and put down for naps. This was our major selling point. We were young entrepreneurs with no credentials and a penchant for boy bands and nail polish. Yet, parents eagerly called us up to care for their most precious commodities. Eventually, our services branched out to include cleaning while babysitting the sleeping kiddos. We would unload the dishwasher, sweep and dust for basically any fee parents suggested.

Moms and dads might wonder if the sitter should be paid less when the kids are sleeping—especially when they aren’t organizing Tupperware or alphabetizing your spice rack? But the general rule seems to be no. Whether the bambinos are sleeping or not, your babysitter is spending time to oversee your precious miracle’s wellbeing. It can be a tough nut to swallow; shelling out $15 an hour when the kids are sleeping and the sitter is eating your ice cream and watching reality TV. But, time is money.

The most important part of babysitting is knowing that you’ve left your children in responsible hands—even when the cost seems steep. But parents, it can’t hurt to schmooze the in-laws from time-to-time so you can enjoy a more cost-effective date night.

What’s the going rate in your town for a babysitter? What type of credentials do you expect them to have?

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