Can You Afford A Babysitter These Days?

   By jkieras  Aug 28, 2011

In the past 18 months that I’ve been a mom, I have never hired a babysitter. I have had my mom or sister come over on occasion, but they live a good thirty minutes away. Sometimes my husband watches the baby when he is home from work while I run errands. Hiring a babysitter is brand new for me!

When I first started babysitting, I was paid $3 an hour for watching a set of quadruplets! So I had major sticker shock the ONE DAY I hired a mother’s helper. I had a big cleaning project and wanted to work straight through the morning, while keeping the baby happy and away from the mess. My helper (a teenager from my church) came over for about four hours.  Her mother dropped her off, and I drove her home. I paid her $40.

She was definitely worth it. But can I afford this? I wodnered while driving home. Four hours is about the length of a good dinner and movie date with my husband. In these economic times, that kind of date is a bit of a luxury for us. Now we have to add babysitting fees. No wonder we don’t go out more.
It’s hard to know what to pay a sitter, too. I've read conflicting opinions of: “pay what you can afford,” versus “you get what you pay for.” offers a babysitter base pay calculator to determine what to pay babysitters in your local area, based on the expertise/experience level of the sitter, and how many children they are watching.  In my area a no-experience babysitter for one child is listed at $10.50 / hour! Since I prefer a sitter with at least a year or two of experience, my fees suggestion went up!
If I reset the calculator for a zip code just twenty miles away, added 2 kids and more years of experience, the calculator suggested paying $17 per hour! I could be paying $60 before I even walk out the door! That date with my husband would definitely be canceled!
Quality child care is worth paying well for. But can most parents afford it? I searched for alternative babysitting options, and only found two:
  1. Join or form a babysitting co-op where a group of parents switch off days to watch kids.
  2. Contact your local charity or church to find low-cost daycare and nursery options. 
I don't know of either of those in my area, but it's not a bad idea to check around for babysitter alternatives! I’m still not quite over my sticker shock. I’m curious how other parents manage babysitting expenses.
Do you feel the same sticker shock at babysitting prices? Do you have creative methods of swapping child care or a way to manage your time and excursions to cut down on the need for sitters?

Make a Comment

Bryelee by Bryelee | Dover, DE
Oct 04, 2011

I can't afford a babysitter either. I have considered a co op but not sure many people can handle my kids. I have 1 with Autism and if you aren't careful things can blog up fast so we don't go out by ourselves.

DianeHoffmaster by DianeHoffmaster | LILBURN, GA
Aug 31, 2011

I did the babysitting co op when my kids were younger. It was the only way we could afford to actually have a date occasionally!

RoscoeRamblingsJen by RoscoeRamblingsJen | ROSCOE, IL
Aug 29, 2011

Wow! Around here, the going rate is only $5-7 per hour. In our area, our YMCA occasionally offers drop in child care on Friday nights for a reasonable rate. There's also a local gymnastics academy that offers a similar service. They charge $20 for the first child, and $15 for the second. You can drop your child(ren) off anywhere between 6p-11p. Both of these places require that children be atleast 3 yrs old and potty trained. My husband and I also trade off babysitting with friends that have kids of a similar age. This has also worked out really well.

karenelaine75 by karenelaine75 | Oklahoma City, OK
Aug 29, 2011

I am a going through my 2nd divorce right now so I have looked into this to find some "me" time in the evenings when the daycare is closed. My local YMCA that I am a member of has a Parent's Night Out on the last Friday of every month. It is from 4-9pm and costs $12 and they serve the kiddos pizza and juice. My youngest (3) can go have fun with other kids while I do something for me like go out to dinner with friends, get a haircut, etc. I like that there are multiple babysitters, they are background and drug checked and I trust them.

AnnSheSpeaks by AnnSheSpeaks | Maplewood, NJ
Aug 29, 2011

Since the economic downturn we have definitely felt "the pinch" and hiring babysitters is one of the first things we have cut back on. My husband and I sure do miss have more time to ourselves but its just not realistic at this point!

bluegemini10 by bluegemini10 | NEWPORT NEWS, VA
Aug 28, 2011

Yes, I trust my babysitter, she's 14 years old, She works for 20 dollars a night, It's not that expensive, When I was a babysitter I got 10 dolllars a night.

lauralee by lauralee | NEW YORK, NY
Aug 28, 2011

If you've got friends and/or family who are willing to sit, I'd go for it and provide them with some sort of token of gratitude. Babysitting fees definitely add up--$15-$20 per hour in my area. As the kids get older and more verbal, it gets easier to feel comfortable leaving them for a few hours and some couples time really helps when your kids are young!!