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How Much Should You Pay the Babysitter? Ouch.

Babysitting costs going up

How much are you willing to fork over?

My husband likes to joke that he has very reasonable standards for babysitting: those who take care of our son should be highly-qualified, experienced, preferably holding a medical degree or a Ph.D in child development (we’re not picky), yet for some inexplicable reason, not be otherwise employed.

Especially for those of us who don’t live close to family, hiring a babysitter is a fact of life. But in Los Angeles, as in many other cities, having a sitter is basically like taking the cost of your night out — dinner, drinks, movies — and doubling it. And it’s painful to hand over so much cash to someone who could quite possibly have spent the last 4 hours updating her Facebook status from your couch.

An article in the Los Angeles Times asks the question: Are babysitting prices getting outrageous? I’d say they are, but sometimes you have to get crafty.

First of all, with a babysitter we love and trust (and pay over $15/hour when my son is awake) we negotiated our fee for night times so that she charges less after my son is in bed. Even a few dollars and hour adds up.

But last year, when my son was a toddler, my mom’s group arranged a babysitting co-op, in which each of us would rotate every week taking care of the kids. The set up: 2 moms would take 4 babies for 4-5 hours on a designated day. With 7 moms in the group, that worked out to roughly 1 day off and 1 babysitting day every 2 weeks for each mom. Coordinating it was tough at the beginning but it worked really well. We always talked about doing it for nighttime as well, but didn’t get around to it.

Another strategy that has worked for us: we alternate with our very close friends, taking our son to their house and putting him to bed in a pack-n-play (sometimes we leave him and pick him up in the morning). Next time, it’s their turn to drop off.

Babysitting fees seem to vary a lot by city. For example, the average rate for a babysitter in Detroit was listed at $10/hour. Meanwhile, I’ve heard from my friends in Manhattan that babysitters go for $20/hour, plus the cost of a cab ride on top.

Do you think babysitting costs are prohibitive and have you found any ways around it?

Image: Flickr/Kretyen

More from Heather Turgeon:

CDC Report: If it’s Green and Leafy, American’s Aren’t Eating it.

Genetically Modified Salmon: Why I’m Not Afraid of the “Frankenfish”

Stop Telling Me to Co Sleep

Do it Now: The Perfect 10 Minute Mediation

Teen Trends: Gastric Bands for Obesity?

50 Amazing Naptime Ideas

Concussions and Cars: Why Parents Worry About the Wrong Things.

Why Kids with Language Delays are More Aggressive

Top 10 Pediatric Myths

Non Stick Chemicals Linked to Higher Cholesterol in Kids

Too Many Moms Still Die in Childbirth: Report

Your Baby is About to Get Chubbier: Pediatricians Are Switching Growth Charts.

Doctors Misdiagnosed in all Cases of Infant Death From Whooping Cough

Too Much Pregnancy Weight Sets Up Babies for Obesity

Antipsychotic Medications for Toddlers?

C-Section Twice as Likely When Doctors Induce Labor.

Why I Abandoned the “Readiness” Approach to Potty Training.

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