She shifts her weight slightly. She starts tapping her fingers. She mumbles something you can’t hear. You know something’s up. Your sitter was sure of herself just a minute ago, so why is she looking so uneasy now? It’s time for her to go home yet she just stands in your living room awkwardly. And then you realize. You forgot to discuss her pay beforehand and now a cloud of discomfort hovers.
Some sitters are uncomfortable discussing money. You should let them know it’s okay! After all, they’re providing you with a valuable service and they deserve to paid for it. You should also ask yourself a few questions to determine what’s fair and reasonable for you to pay. Most importantly, discuss the fee before the job, so there are no surprises.
Step 1: What are other parents paying?
Ask parents in your neighborhood, coworkers, and friends what they typically pay. You’ll probably find that young teens who have just started babysitting tend to earn a fee at the lower end of the average for your community. Older teens with more babysitting experience are generally paid a higher rate.
Step 2: What type of job are you asking your sitter to do?
Consider the number of children your sitter will be caring for and for how many hours. Extra money is usually paid for watching more than two children or sitting after midnight.
Step 3: Has your sitter taken a babysitting course?
If so, that’s great for the safety of your children as well as your sitter. Teens who have taken a babysitting preparation course usually charge more and their skills deserve greater compensation. If your sitter has not taken a course, consider chatting with her parents about enrolling her in a local Safe Sitter® class. As a gift to your sitter (and her parents), you may even want to offer to pay the fee for her to get safe babysitting training. That’s a gift that will benefit both her and you.
The next time you arrange for a sitter, don’t be afraid to talk about fees up front. Your sitter is still getting used to the economic world and so she might not bring it up before babysitting. It’s up to you. Get everything worked out beforehand so that you can ensure smooth sailing during and after the job.