What would you pay for a multilingual, background-checked babysitter with first-aid training, a college degree, glowing references, and the ability to take payment via credit card? As some young graduates are realizing, all of these attractive qualities can be worth $25/hour or more to families who are no longer interested in hiring the teenager down the street.
If that kind of money sounds insane to you -- a date night that might cost $125 on TOP of the expense of a restaurant meal and movie tickets! -- you're probably not living in New York City, where the trend of highly-paid "super-sitters" is on the rise.
However, it's not just the east coast where babysitting fees are getting too steep for many people. Until recently, I was paying $17/hour in Seattle ... and hell, my kids weren't even learning French.
According to the New York Post, rates between $20-25 per hour are becoming fairly standard in the city, thanks in part to parents' increasing demands for their babysitters' qualifications. Most sitters are background-checked and take credit cards though the website UrbanSitter, a sort of baby-sitting equivalent of OpenTable. More and more, parents are looking for caregivers who have a specific set of skills and experience and, perhaps most importantly, won't let the kids veg out in front of cartoons.
As one mom put it,
I want to find someone who has experience with infants, is CPR-trained, and is not going to sit around watching TV with them.
When I was living in Seattle, I found our babysitter through SitterCity.com. I loved her easygoing nature right away, and we continued to employ her for years -- for several months she even stepped in as a sort of daytime nanny when we needed that help. She charged $17 per hour for our two boys, and while it was expensive, it was also a pretty standard rate in Seattle. I never had any particular expectations about what she did with the kids during the evening -- if they wanted to watch TV, that was completely fine by me. She often brought her young daughter along, which my kids loved.
Now that we live in Eugene, Oregon, we pay a high-school-aged family member $10 per hour if we go out. That seems like a fantastic deal to me. Personally, I cannot imagine paying an exorbitant hourly fee for a sitter who can speak a second language and can play the violin, but I can identify with the challenge of finding a good, trustworthy person in the first place -- and wanting to hang on to them.
So I'm not sure the so-called "super-sitter" is really a trend as much as it is a reality in certain urban areas. Services cost more, period. People are willing to pay for someone they feel comfortable leaving their children with. More and more highly-educated young people are looking to augment their income.
Still, is it any wonder less and less of us are even going out anymore? With those kinds of prices, Netflix and a couch win almost every time.
What do you pay for babysitting in your town? Would you pay more for a more qualified sitter?
Image via Merrilan/Flickr