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?
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