How Much Do You Pay Your Sitter?

Updated on October 31, 2014
T.F. asks from Laurel, MD
25 answers

We have a regular sitter that we started to employ while moving and we have kept her around a bit because she is great. While we were moving we used her almost every evening for a few hours. She would just come over and watch the girls while we drove boxes back and forth or such. During this period of about three and a half weeks we gave her $200 dollars a week. It was what we had decided on together for her time and help.

Now for the past month or so we have been all moved in and have only had to use her a couple times and each time we payed her $9.25 an hour, far more than what most 17 year olds make at McDonald's. She called up today and told me she really loves our kids but that she will have to cancel the two dates she has agreed to sit for us in the coming weeks unless we can negotiate a rate of over $10 an hour for her. Apparently she sits for 3 other families in the area and they all pay in the neighborhood of $11 an hour and she feels we are taking advantage of her.

This is where my question comes in, We live in a fairly affluent neighborhood so I can totally see some of the other families over paying. I know for a fact that two of the other families have more kids than us. My wife and I are both under 30 and we remember baby sitting 10 or 15 years ago and getting excited to make $7 an hour. So what gives? Is this really normal now or are we being ripped off?

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So What Happened?

We had no clue we were low balling her so much! I feel embarrassed now! Thank you all so much. We will probably be upping it to about $12 an hour. Thanks!

Featured Answers



answers from Denver on

I feel it was fair for her to ask for more, but it was just her approach in the way she did it. Around here, 10 would be considered low but for 15 or more I would expect care that included activities, organizing or other nanny types of services.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

We pay $10/hr for 1 kid and we live in an area that has a much lower cost of living than you do. You have to pay up if you want to keep a good sitter; that's just the truth of how it is now.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Dallas on

The .25 made me lol! Yes, you're being cheap, but on the flip side, it's totally uncool that she's considering dumping already made plans. If you pay her $10 and someone else offers her $15 is she gonna leave you hanging? I think that's a fair question and one she needs to consider what type of character she wants to display. You say you live in an affluent neighborhood, just unsure why your panties are in such a wad over 75 cents...

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

If you live in an affluent area, I would guess the rate $10-$15 an hour.
I pay more for an older kid- $10 an hour would be a mothers helper or someone just starting out, $15 would be like a legit nanny with training and whatnot. I pay most of my babysitter $11-$12 because they are responsible high schoolers. And I always round up.
Good sitters are hard to come by, pay her what she is asking if you want to keep her.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

We have a lower cost of living than you and the going rate for two kids is 10 an hour. 9.25? do you get out quarters and everything?

Oh and google is telling me the average starting wage at Mc Donalds in your area is 11.50 an hour.

Jeez Gamma, you give the impression you have never earned a dollar in your life. You have so little regard for the work people put in. You sure look down on everyone who earns money and spend it as we please but you then get your knickers in a twist when people look down on you for living off our tax payments.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You're low. In my area, $10 per hour is standard. And you are in the DC area, where everything is more expensive than in Pittsburgh.

When I lived in Northern VA, I was paid $13/hour to babysit, and that was 15 years ago.

ETA: Yes Gamma G, babysitters are expensive. Which is why, in my area, the parents who become good friends often trade babysitting for date nights. Sitters are for occasions when all the parents want/have to be at the same event.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

We do not live in an affluent area, nor are we wealthy (at all), and we pay $11-12/hour, and we always round up (if it was 4 hours, we'd pay $50, etc.). I would pay more if asked-I am incredibly grateful to have someone keep the two most precious parts of my life safe and happy.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

how did you get to $9.25 an hour? would it really hurt to go to $10? or better yet, $12?
10 or 15 years ago is a LONG time. when i babysat i was tickled to make anything above $2 an hour but i don't expect kids to do that today.
you really can't compare babysitting with mcdonalds (even if we agree with you that they pay 'far' less than you, which i don't). kids are more important than burgers.
you can probably find a sitter to take your low rate, but if you actually like this one, i'd meet her request and raise it. the other families in your neighborhood aren't over-paying. they're setting a rate you don't like. but the really good sitters aren't going to stick with a low-paying family when they can get better pay right there in the same area.
i spent my HS years in laurel, so am pretty familiar with how it works there.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

I don't know what the going rate is in your area. I wouldn't think that would be hard to find out though. I would check around and see. Also keeping in mind it doesn't hurt to pay extra for a job well done. We own our own business and typically pay $4-8 per hour higher than the person would make normally. Why? Because I want that person to want to be available to me if I need them. I also will bring lunch in if they're working for us and it's going to take most of the day. People who are happy in their work usually will go above and beyond. That's what I want.

I do have an issue with her telling you that if you don't match her rate with others she will cancel. I don't know the background but if she agreed to work for you knowing what you paid, I would take the opportunity to speak to her about the value of her word. Might go something like this:

Penelope, please know it was never our intention to make you feel taken advantage of. I had no idea that we weren't paying the going rate for your services until you brought it to my attention and I appreciate your maturity in telling me so. After discussing this, my husband and I agree your services are worth what you're asking and are happy to pay you x per hour. We do however also believe that you should honor your word and commitment to the two jobs we have already hired you for at the other rate.

To me it teaches two very important lessons. It's appropriate and right to negotiate your services BEFORE agreeing to do a job and it's also fine that once you've done it, you can renegotiate if you feel like the price you initially quoted isn't sufficient. What's more important to me, and I'm trying to instill in my kids, is that your word is your bond. I expect my kids to honor their word period. Sometimes that bites and you learn from it. I have bid jobs too low and diminished or eliminated most of the profit because of it. BUT I agreed to perform a service for an agreed amount and I do. I also learn from it and when I make the next bid I apply what I learned.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

According to the data from the following web site, the going rate for babysitting in your area is about $12 an hour.
It's a market thing - if other people will pay her more than you, she'll work for the highest bidders.

A lot of families with young kids just don't go out very often.
Or they drag their kids along with them - so EVERYONE can enjoy their 'little darlings' antics.
There's a reason being married with children is referred to as being 'settled down'.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Wausau on

I was never fond of babysitting as a routine source of income as a teen. I never set a rate specifically, but back then, where I lived, $5/hr was considered really good. Most people paid would pay $3-$4, but some thought $1-$2 was enough. When I did babysit I quickly learned which jobs to take and which to decline. When I was old enough, I got a job waitress. The hourly rate was low but the tips put me over $10/hr most days.

If your neighbors do pay her more, then you have a supply/demand/local economy situation that should be considered by both parties.

You're not being 'ripped off' in any case. You're simply having to decide if this particular sitter is worth $11/hr to you. She offers a service, you get to choose to use it or not. At the same time, you're not 'taking advantage' of her, as she is not obligated to babysit for you at all. (At 17, I wouldn't have canceled a date to babysit, so I think that is odd that she'd even consider it. I'd just tell you I was busy.)

What a teen might make at McD's is not relevant to the situation as you are not McDs and she doesn't work there. The important data is what you pay, what your neighbors pay, what she charges and what other sitters in your area charge. If you talk to neighbors and other sitters, it might help you to come to a decision.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Yes, you should pay at least $10, in my opinion. Cost of living here in AZ is considerably less than the DC area, and we still pay at least $10-15/hour, sometimes plus a tip if they do a great job.

However, the fact that she is trying to re-negotiate two dates that were already agreed on would really bother me. She is a minor, so she can't enter into a contract. If she was an adult, she would be in breach of contract by saying "now you have to pay me x, or I won't do the job." You would have the right to find someone else and go after her for the difference between the new contract and her agreed-on $9.25/hr. I am certainly not suggesting that would be reasonable, but it just ticks me off that she is pulling something that amounts to consumer fraud if a business does it. That is the kind of person who grows up and commits big-girl consumer fraud and rips people off.

In your shoes, I would lay down the law- "Susie, we like you very much, and our kids think you are great. We have two dates that you committed to at $9.25/hour. I sincerely hope you are a person of your word, and will keep those two obligations. If you live up to your end of the bargain on those two dates, I will give you a raise to ($12-15/hour or whatever) for all future dates."
If she agreed to that, I would probably just pay her the $12-15/hour for all of it, but I would know that she is the kind of person who won't cancel the day before a big party to work for someone who offers more money. Having someone you can't rely on does you no good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

I don't know your kids' ages, but I will say, I don't know anyone who pays less than $10, and I have easy, older kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

we pay $12/hr and that includes cleaning up anything that she and he do in terms of meals, activities, games, etc... in other words, i want to come home to the house in the same condition i left it in.

as for her negotiating?? i say GOOD FOR HER, its shows she understands her worth in this world and her ability to self advocate demonstrates the kind of maturity i would want in a sitter. :-) S.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My teen kids make between $12 and $15 an hour, depending on the family and how many kids. Most people around here consider a good reliable sitter more valuable than a fast food worker, and they pay them accordingly.
(When I was a teen I was lucky to make $3 an hour but back then people would pretty much leave their kids with ANYONE willing to do it, most parents today are a lot more particular.)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

10 or 15 years ago and you're paying her $2.25/hour more. Doesn't seem like such a rip off to me. She obviously is good as she has other families so let her go. Your bitterness isn't fair to her and she doesn't need you. For reference, we've paid 17 yr olds $15/hour. A 13 year old we know charges $10. We paid her $12 by the time we tipped. Are you going out and leaving your kids so often that $2 extra per hour is that big a deal for a good babysitter your kids like? If so, find another. I'm just happy when my kids are happy and safe and we don't leave our kids with sitters for date nights and all so often anyway. A few extra dollars are worth it to us.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I don't pay a babysitter that much. If you can afford it then go ahead and give in to her. Otherwise don't continue to hire her.

After reading the responses I'm just wondering


Seriously people!!!!!

You must be making a thousand dollars a day to afford to pay a babysitter $100 for ONE evening of babysitting.

Normal people cannot afford that. NORMAL people can spend $100 on an entire date including their fun plus the babysitting.

Come ON! Don't tell this mom that's what normal is. It's NOT normal to pay a babysitter that much.

I can't help but think that people who pay a babysitter a hundred dollars are....well, if someone can afford to pay a babysitter that much plus go out and have a good time then I certainly hope they're giving to charity and being good to others because they obviously have enormous incomes.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

What is minimum wage where you live? It is over $10/hour here, so that is what you pay for a babysitter. As a kid I used to babysit for $3/hour, but that was minimum wage at the time.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

10 to 15 for a teenager to come and watch my kids? Are you kidding me???? That is ridiculous.

I know my kids are all grown and out of the house but seriously who can afford to go out when you are paying the sitter $15 bucks per hour? That is insane.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

We pay $10/hour for 1 child, $15/hour if she is watching teh two children together. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

$10-$15 is normal, but I think it was rude of her to 'negotiate'.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We pay $10 per hour and have amazing sitters!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

10.00/hour...and minimum wage here is 7.25. I think it's a bit ridiculous that we pay that much, but it's the going rate. Especially when they sit in front of the tv half the time. Lots of friends of mine pay even more, 12.00/hr. I rarely get a babysitter because of it. I too remember making 3.50/hr but times have changed.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Sitters do not have to be teens. Maybe it is cheaper to have an older lady --or a younger teen to sit at her home and her parents will be there to help her learn the trade. Older people and younger teens would rarely cancel as their social lives are less full.

Second option is to have great snacks, dvds, games, etc. that will entice the current sitter to want to come to your home to sit for the lower pay.

I use to leave out a good variety of snacks for the sitter and my child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I ran a babysitting contract service for 6 years. The nations avg is $12/hr for 1 and $2/hr per kid after. With a min of 4 hours.

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