Every family at one point or another will need a babysitter. It’s inevitable. But something that not every family might take into consideration is the overall cost of paying someone to watch your children. With so many options for hiring a babysitter nowadays, it’s essential to know all the pieces of the puzzle so you don’t go into the hiring process with false information.
Your Budget Matters
It’s necessary to evaluate what you can afford based on your family's unique budget and needs. That’s why it’s so important to think critically about your time and money to ensure that you hire a babysitter that provides you with the best care, at a price you can afford.
Some factors to consider when it comes to your budget are:
- How often you need a sitter. Will it be once a month? Once a week? For how many hours? Knowing the hours required in advance can help you understand your budgetary requirements.
- How much you can pay. the average babysitter makes between $10 to $20 an hour. Be prepared to pay within this range for most jobs. However, many factors can contribute to the overall cost. For more details, check out our Cost Guide.
- Additional costs. Depending on what time of day you require a sitter, you may also be required to pay for their meals, or at the very least provide them with food from your home to cook for both them and your kids. You may also need to provide them with spending money if the plan includes a day trip. All of this should be considered when deciding on a wage so you know exactly how much you’ll be spending each time you bring someone in.
The Value of Experience
Those who have worked in childcare longer are often seen as the more experienced or higher value candidates but don’t discount the upstarts either. Just because someone has been babysitting longer, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit for your family. You should always take into consideration what kind of care you feel is required when it comes to your children and how much investment you want to put in a babysitter to help you along the way.
Someone with more experience may better understand the uniqueness of all children, and be more prepared to help you in raising your child. This could mean anything from a base knowledge of potty training, food prep, discipline, or education. Having some or all of these extra skills may require additional compensation.
However, if you only need someone on an occasional basis — a few hours here or there — a lot of experience doesn’t have to be a necessity. Young babysitters often have a lot more energy and can relate to children on their level as they’re closer in age. Expected wages for less experienced sitters are usually lower, but you should always ensure that it’s the best fit for your family first.
Though both have their benefits, one thing you should always keep in mind is that you should ensure that whoever you hire has a basic understanding of what do in an emergency — just in case.
Even if a babysitter boasts that they have extensive experience in similar roles, going off of their word is not always the best bet. Simply because someone has worked a lot doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a great babysitter. We’ve all seen movies or heard stories where sitters leave children to their own devices. To avoid having this happen to you, you need to ensure the quality of the person you’re looking to hire.
Here are a few great ways to get a better picture of your new babysitter:
- Interviews. Interviewing a potential babysitter is a great way to know whether the person you’re looking to hire is a good fit. By asking them some simple child care questions, or testing them on their knowledge in certain areas is a great way to ensure you’re hiring a quality candidate.
- Reference Checks. If the babysitter you’re looking to hire has previous experience, ask them to provide you with references. References can be written letters or in-person/over-the-phone conversations with past employers. If they don’t have previous work experience, it never hurts to ask for character references either. That way you can get a feel for the type of person they are from the people who know them well.
- Job Shadow. If your new babysitter is going to be spending a lot of time with your kids, it might be worth your while to bring them in for a test run while you’re around so you can see how they interact with your children. Not only does this allow you to see first-hand how your children respond to them, but it can provide you with peace of mind if you see the interactions going well, making you less wary when you have to leave them alone together later on.
Both you and the babysitter may be in negotiation mode when it comes to price. Some babysitters will come to you with a set price for their services while others will be more open to a different fee depending on what you’re willing to offer. But if you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be better equipped to explain your prices to a potential babysitter based on your budget and their experience.