Now you may be among the lucky ones who has a team of friends and family members locally who are only to happy to babysit and give you and your partner the chance to escape from being mummy and daddy for a few hours. However, for many of us who have settled further afield from our relatives, we turn to babysitters. Do you remember being a babysitter as a teenager? Most of us have babysat at one time or another before having children of our own. It used to go something like this: once upon a time, if you wanted to earn some extra cash, you would knock on a neighbour’s door and offer to babysit. In return, you would get pizza to eat, a VHS to watch and a tenner at the end of the evening. How times have changed.
It’s not news to us that the cost of daytime childcare is high. Without a doubt, these high costs can be a barrier for mums wanting to return to work. But they could also be a barrier to keeping our social lives and relationships full of sparkle… Just how much is the going rate for a babysitter and what are the factors you should consider when weighing up what you want to pay?
For many of us, the decision on an hourly rate for babysitters often poses a conundrum. Consider that rare event of the married world, the date night. You’ve booked the restaurant table, you’ve found the ideal local babysitter (someone recommended that has spent time with the children and yourself, someone you trust), and you are planning your outfit for that special few hours alone with your other half. (Remember him/her? We know, it’s been a while since you held a glance outside of the mad school run, work rush, parenting routine…).
How many of us recognise this conversation with a potential babysitter:
You: “We would love to have you mind the kids a few nights a month. What is your hourly rate?”
Sitter: “I don’t know. Whatever you want to pay me.”
You: “Well, how much do you make for other families?”
Sitter: “£8 an hour. But they have 3 kids. You have 2.”
And then you’re left with a dilemma. You don’t want to be the neighbourhood Scrooge, but you also don’t want to lose a great sitter – and the chance to go out.
Babysitters in the UK make anything between £6.00 and up to £13.00 per hour. This can add up if you’re planning a day in the country or a night on the town, but it’s a small price to pay for your sanity. (Not to mention the safety of your children).
There are several factors to consider when deciding how much you’ll pay:
- Babysitter’s Age Pay younger candidates, who generally have less experience, less than you would pay someone older. That said, if a sitter stays with you for many years, increase her wages as her experience increases.
- Location If you live in a big city, expect to pay more for a babysitter than someone who lives in a small town. Higher cost of living = higher wages.
- Experience A sitter who knows First Aid and has looked after big groups of children will cost more. And rightfully so! Specialised training should always be rewarded.
- Number of Children If you have more than one child, expect to pay £2 to £4 more an hour for each additional child. (Which is how we calculate the top end of our range, for looking after 4 children in a London postcode.)
- Time of Day Pay more if the children will be awake while you’re gone. If the babysitter will put the kids to bed, lock the doors, and watch TV, you can pay less.
- Activities One child has soccer practice, the other needs to go to the dentist. And they both need to be at the dinner table at 6. Pay more if you are expecting your babysitter to be out and about with your children.
- Cooking For each meal that is prepared, add extra to the pay rate. You don’t have to pay more if you just want her to order pizza, but leave enough money if she is cooking, for extra ingredients and a little extra cash for her.
- Transportation If you’re not driving a babysitter from and to her home, give her some extra money for petrol or a taxi.
If you’re still unsure, Care.com has a Babysitter and Nanny Pay Rate Calculator that will calculate the “going rate” for sitters in your area! As you can see in the infographic below, where you live has a huge impact on what you can expect to pay. You can see that London comes out as the most expensive urban area at £7.74, with Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow coming out between £6.03 and £6.45. Cambridge lies somewhere in the middle of these rates.
So, use the tool as your starting point. If your babysitter has been recommended by friends, ask them what they’ve paid and go from there. It’s always a good plan to discuss rates before the babysitter arrives so that you both know where you stand, and that you can focus on the task at hand – getting out and having fun! You deserve it!
*Research and prices valid in 2015