Are You Paying Your Sitter Too Much?

moneyThe good sitters have us over a barrel. You don’t want to pay too little and risk losing the rare chunk of gold that is a responsible sitter with good references who your kids actually love.

But you don’t want to bankrupt yourself just get a date night either. And surveys like the recent “Nanny Survey” out of Park Slope, Brooklyn, don’t make life much easier with statements like “Pay rates vary considerably from family to family, depending on a wide variety of factors, including some not obvious in these statistics (e.g., how demanding the employer is, Nanny’s ability to be flexible with hours, etc).”

So how do you throw all those factors out and just get down to the dollars and cents? Turns out there are just five factors you really need to consider when it comes time to pull out your wallet – or woo a new sitter.

According to the Sacramento Bee, you need to know:

The age of your babysitter

The distance of your sitter to a metro area

The number of kids you have (and the closeness of their age)

The time period and type of job

Sitter experience

Sounds easy enough, but now what?

First, are they college age or teenaged? For younger kids, lop $2 an hour off your starting price.

Are you in a metro area or out? If you’re out, lop another $1 to $2 off your starting price, even more if you’re more than fifty miles from a metro area.

How many kids do you have? If you have two or more, start adding a few bucks.

Going out at night when your kids will most likely be sleeping? Again, drop the price by at least $1 or $2.

But the big mystery, of course, is what IS your starting price? The Sac Bee says college-aged sitters are demanding anywhere from $11 to $20 an hour. But they are also facing an economic crunch – in Park Slope four in ten employers reported considering or making recent changes to their nanny rates because of the fiscal crisis.

So where to start for your family? Look at the average pay rates for your community. If you’re making $10 an hour and a sitter is demanding $20, it’s OK to say bye bye. They’ll soon find out no one is going to pay that. Then again, if everyone on your block is raking in $100,000 a year, and you’re not even able to cough up minimum wage, don’t expect the sitters to stick around.

I confess I’m still confused. Planning to hire a mother’s helper for the summer, I tried to remember what I was paid when I was a teenager and can’t. Having thus far only used an in-home daycare, taken my daughter to family or used a few close friends/family members as paid sitters, I’ve never really shelled out for childcare. And none of these stories indicate whether it’s acceptable to pay less if you’ll be just a room away while the babysitting is going on.

I’m one of those parents afraid she might shoot a little too high to get the good sitter. Are you? What are the going rates in your neighborhood?

Image: amagill, flickr

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