New 'Super' Babysitters Are Charging an Arm and a Leg, Would You Pay?

All the Rage 20

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

childcare

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Mkitt... Mkittysamom

Holy cow, I need help with my kids a lot since I have anxiety issues and other things I am working on that are important.  I can't afford anything beyond 5 - 7 dollars an hour.  I used care.com and basically realized I paid out $25.00 a month only to find out no one would work for what I can afford.  I especially can't afford daycare, and I think the state only helps when you are working..,which I can't I'm disabled but never got disability cause it takes 2 years to get.  Babysitters even without experience are charging more and more...I'm going the creative route I guess to solve this problem.  It really sucks when I could really use the help.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Mkittysamom - have you considered a mothers helper? If you are home anyway you could pay a younger teen that much to help out, keep your kids occupied while you are dealing with stuff.





I would consider paying that much for a regular sitter, like if I needed someone one night a week. It's $15-20 an hour for a teenager anyway so might as well spend a bit more and get some benefit beyond a warm body on the sofa.

Cassandra Huber

@Mkittysamom  that is sad that people are so selfish to not take 5-7 dollars an hour. Those are the people who most likely live way beyond their means and need all that extra money for their ipad, internet, flat-screen, and smartphone. I am a married mother of a 10mo old son, and I can tell you, we make it on a very low income just fine. I used to be a former baby sitter/childcare worker, and I was not picky about  price as I was just happy to be working and helping someone. I learned to work with whatever income I'm given.



Blues... Blueshark77

I can understand that the fees for qualified babysitters seem high, but as a former nanny I can assure you that quality care should come at a higher cost than a high schooler looking to make some extra cash. I took care of the kids (including math, reading, and music lessons), cleaned up after them, prepared meals, did their laundry, acted as their chauffeur, basically all the things parents do. I was there more often than the parents. My time is worth more than minimum wage because I don't just sit on the couch watching TV with them, plus I am CPR certified and have many years of experience working with children. I don't know why child care is considered less of a job, meaning less pay and benefits, than other lines of work. I sympathize with Mkittyasmom, but if you are offering less than minimum wage I don't think you can find anyone to sit for you other than a family member, young teenager, or illegal immigrant. I was on care.com for a while and was shocked by an ad that wanted a sitter for 4 children, cook, housekeeper, and chauffeur (using the sitter's own car and gas) for $5 an hour. Crazy!

nonmember avatar Mandak

We trade services with friends and family. We're lucky to have local family to help out, but depend more on the help from our friends. We trade evenings of watching each other's kids, or for those without kids, other services - or just kindness. I know my friends without kids will likely have them someday and I can return the favor. I have never paid for a sitter, and have hopes that I can continue this method for years to come. I can't imagine having to pay $25 an hour though! Ouch. I used to make $3 per hour, per kid back when I babysat - about 10 years ago....

Blues... Blueshark77

Cassandra, it is not selfish for people to want to make a living wage. Where I live $5-7 dollars wouldn't put gas in my car, groceries on the table, or a roof over my head. It's not being selfish, it's reality. 


 

Jessy Roos

What this article is describing is paying people what they are worth. A college graduate with a background check, first aid training, and the ability to keep kids engaged and entertained without a television is someone who is worth more than the teenager down the street who can cook KD and dial 911.


I will never understand why people are willing to pay through the nose for a top end car to keep their kids safe on the road, or an alarm system and integrated smoke detector to keep them safe at night, but want bottom of the barrel prices when it comes to care for their kids. I was a teenage babysitter once I was definitely not as equipped as I thought I was. I would rather scrimp and save until I could afford the more expensive but more qualified sitter and know my kids are safe, than find the cheapest kid down the road so I can go out more often.


Now, I understand it's all fine and good for me to say that, but I do also understand that there are people in Mkittysamom who are in unique situations and have their hands tied and I do truly wish that there were more resources available to people like her.

doodl... doodlebut

When I did daycare in my home home I charged 75a week for full time. I was CPR certified, background check, finger print card, degree, did preschool activities and outings. I couldn't imagine charging that much.

Jessy Roos

Doodlebut: your clients that were getting such great services for such low prices won the lottery in terms of childcare. $75/week for full time care (40hours) is $1.87/hour. Did that even come close to covering the costs of your business? Craft supplies, food, gas and admission to outing locations, insurance for your car, business license, cost of background check and and CPR certification? Even if you had the maximum number of children, which is usually between 3 and 7 kids under 3, that is still only $13.75/hour for all of your qualifications! 


Childcare has long been considered a second class job and woefully undervalued. As a quality caregiver you undervalued yourself and it's a shame!

nonmember avatar Kristin

I live in a very high cost of living area (DC) and use an agency for babysitters. I pay anywhere between $17-20 an hour plus a $35 agency fee per use (45 on the weekends). This is a highly reputable agency that thoroughly screens and trains their caregivers, which gives me great peace of mind, especially if I need someone last minute and one of our regular caregivers isn't available. We have no local family, which is very common here. Our caregivers do not teach my child a second language (although some could), but I am very thankful I can afford to use this service. I recognize that most families could not afford these kind of rates. However, to us it is worth it and I think people who work with children should be valued for their work.

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