What do Dopers who pay for babysitting pay their babysitters?

The going rate around here seems to be $10.00 an hour. It seems out of whack to me. When I was a teenaged babysitter the generally acceptable rate was about half of what minimum wage was in NY at that time. Minimum wage in Maryland is currently $6.15.

What I earned for a long evening of babysitting translated into a new record or dinner and a movie with my friends. If I hire a $10/hr sitter this weekend while my husband and I attend an event about 1.5 hours away by car I’ll have to hand over an amount of cash that rivals my car payment. The few times I have engaged such a sitter I have not enjoyed the evenings as much as I would have if I hadn’t been watching the clock calculating what each additional minute was costing.

So my questions are:

Is there a standard hourly rate in your neighborhood or region?

Have you ever negotiated a flat rate for an evening?

Depends on how many kids, for how long, if they’ll have to cook for them while they’re there, etc. Are your kids easygoing or terrors?

I have no clue about going rates, I never babysat as a youngster unless it was with a friend sitting her siblings. I’d say if the babysitter is barely old enough to drive or younger, minimum wage $6/hour is fair. Maybe a bit more if you have multiple kids or one that requires diapering, or if it’s a weekend evening and you’re desperate.

We pay ours based on experience level and the sort of demands we’re asking.

For one niece, it’s 5.50 per hour, because she’s relatively young and doesn’t do as much (cleaning up, etc) other than play with the kid. For my daughter’s favorite, it’s 6 per hour because she makes more of an effort to keep things tidy. One babysitter was 7 per hour simply because that’s what she charged, and we needed one.

10 bucks per hour is pretty steep, esp if it’s for only one kid. For that, I would expect the house to be pretty immaculate when I returned.

Being paranoid first-time parents of an infant, we hire only older babysitters with first aid/CPR training. We will be paying one $15/hour to babysit while we attend a wedding (in Charm City!). It’s going to be crazy expensive, but the wedding is like a nice free dinner with cocktails and wine (or so I say to myself).

We have yet to pay less than $12/hour.

We used to pay an 18-y.o. girl $10/yr, then she went off to college. Now we use a 15-y.o. girl and pay her $8/hr. She usually starts around 6:30-7, and our kids go to bed at 8, so for the rest of the night she doesn’t really have to do anything except keep the house from burning down. We could probably pay her less, but I consider it insurance as she’s always made herself available for us when we’ve asked her, and she’s the sweetest kid.

Good lord! Back in the early 1980s, teenaged Scarlett (with CPR training) made a buck an hour for two kids. One summer I sat an 11-year-old while his single dad was at work; a little more than 8 hours a day, and about all I had to do was feed him, know which friend’s house he was at, and make sure he went to bed. I read a novel or two a day that summer. Don’t recall the pay, but it sure wasn’t anywhere near minimum wage.

The times they have changed, I guess.

Bolding mine.

I realize this has to be a mere typo, but I must say it’s still pretty hilarious to read over and think about.

And so I don’t do a drive by post without adding anything relevant to the topic at hand, I used to get 5.50 an hour for the jobs I did for my neighbors (I was their regular babysitter for about a month and babysat most every day).

Ten dollars does sound a bit extreme but I guess, like others have said, it all depends on what you want out of the sitter and how well your children behave/what their needs are.

When I was a teenager (late '80’s, early '90s), living in a suburb, I got a bit under minimum wage, or $2-3 an hour, IIRC.

Now I’m a grown woman, with children of my own, I studied child development and psychology in college, I have first aid certification, a house full of toys, I provide healthy organic meals out of pocket (well, out of my fridge, more precisely!), AND I live in the City of Chicago, where everything costs more. I’m also more likely to sit for 6 hours or more, so I’m a bit of a preschool teacher as well, keeping them busy with arts and crafts and going to the park and learning stuff, not just making pizza and watching The Little Mermaid before bed, like I used to do as a teenaged sitter. $10/hour is on the very low end for adult sitters here*, and it’s what I charge, mostly because my only two regular clients were friends of mine first, and I see each of their kids at least once a week, so it’s sort of steady work. I also have to pay taxes and health insurance out of that (since I make more than $600 a year), so it’s not nearly as much as it sounds. ETA: I don’t pay for liability insurance, which I know I should.

In December, I’ll have my first set of siblings, and I’m trying to figure out what to do about it. Obviously, the newborn will be a lot more work, but charging the mother double what I do now will push it into the not-worth-working range, and I don’t want to lose her. I suspect I’ll go half rate for the sibling if I have both of them at once, and the full $10 for either one alone.

I think the difference is one of public perception and self-valuation. I remember a lot of talk when I was studying child development (with the idea of working day care, which I later discarded) back in the '90s about “Why are people paying more for the people making their burgers and fries than those raising their children? Where are our values?” I do think that people are willing to demand a higher quality care and reward it appropriately these days.

*Here’s a cached Sun-Times article on recent averages in Chicago, for those that think I’m making this up. :wink:

IANAP but I wouldn’t expect any housework from a babysitter. Yeah, clean up what they use but no more than that.

Yes, this was the going rate when my sister and I were kids and our parents hired teenagers to watch us. Now I read that the going rate for babysitters has increased nine times faster than inflation since the early 1980s, currently averaging $12.75 per hour per kid. So for two kids now that would be over 25 bucks per hour. There has of course been inflation since then, but in 1980 the median nominal income was about $18,000 per year. Today it is $50,000. Thus it would appear that going out now and again and hiring babysitters was something that a majority of families could do 30 or 40 years ago and is now reserved more for the upper crust.

So I would ask a corollary of the question in the title of the thread: how many Dopers are like my wife and me, and have never once hired a babysitter for their kids because it’s just way too expensive? We have a lot of cool stuff now that was not around back then, but I do retroactively envy those cheap babysitting rates.

Well, I wouldn’t pay nearly as much for a zombie babysitter, but we pay our regular sitter pretty well.

She makes $13.50 an hour for 3-4 hours a week, so not a ton of money overall but a dang good hourly wage for a sitter. However, she is 22 and a college graduate with an art degree. She does fun projects with our daughter rather than watching TV for 3 hours. She reads and sings and came with wonderful references so we don’t have a problem at all with what we pay her.

But my point is that the majority of Americans would have a problem with it, not in some moral sense or out of stinginess, but just a pure inability to spend close to $200 a month, in addition to the cost of going out itself.

I think the people who would love to find babysitters at half minimum way are the same ones that have drastically driven the supply down by raising standards. I can’t imagine having a 12-13 year old babysit my 2-year old, let alone an infant, but twenty years ago that was common. I remember babysitting FIVE under 10 when I was like 14. If anything, babysitting was more common in the 12-16 cohort because after that people got part time jobs and/or a social life. So once you get rid of not only half the supply, but the half of the supply willing to work for the least (because of relatively low opportunity cost), it’s no wonder prices skyrocketed.

The babysitters my sister and I had were more like 15-17, and we were in the 6-10 age range. I agree that it’s unreasonable to get a young sitter and pay half (or less) of minimum wage for taking care of really young kids (if for no other reason than their having to feed them, diaper them, change them).

But for grade school kids, I think there are a lot of parents like me who would be perfectly happy to pay peanuts to a 15 year old to basically ignore the kids and watch TV (or go online, or text their friends) and raid the fridge, just for there to be a reasonably responsible person there to be able to call 911 if necessary. That just apparently doesn’t exist any more, though, which means that my wife and I will most likely continue to be a member of an increasingly large swath of American parents who never hire a sitter for their kids, not once (we haven’t so far and I don’t see how it’s going to change).

When I was a babysitter (back in the 60s) I got 50¢/hr, which was about half minimum wage back then. And I’d get that whether I had one kid or 5… dang I was cheap labor!

When my daughter watched kids - this would be in the 90s, she usually got about $4-5/hr plus a tip!

I don’t think I would pay a kid $10/hr to sit at my house. An adult with some training, maybe, or if my kid required some special care, but to hang out with a kid, watching TV, having snacks for a few hours? Seems a bit steep. Guess it’s a good thing I don’t have a little one any longer.

I agree that ten bucks an hour is too steep, but from what I am reading you can’t even get babysitters *that *cheap these days!

Maybe your parents preferentially hired kids 15-17, but I promise you that those 15-17 year olds were competing in a market filled with 12-14 year olds, driving down the price.