Why You Should Pay Your Babysitter -- Even When You Cancel

check bookYou're all ready for date night. Your nails are painted, your outfit picked out, reservations made, and you can't wait to get out with your spouse and relax without filling one single sippy cup for a few hours. Then you hear the dreaded words, "Mommy, I'm going to be sick" ... and just like that, you're stuck at home cleaning up puke with those freshly manicured hands.

Sigh. It happens; it's part of parenthood that we all just have to accept from time to time. But what about your babysitter? Do you pay her (or him) anyway? The question was recently raised in a New York Times column, and I was surprised by how many people who said they don't or won't.


I think it's a given that you should, especially if you want to keep your babysitter. If you've scheduled her ahead of time, she's likely turned down other jobs or activities to keep this time set aside for you. She's probably counting on that money. To just say, sorry, thanks anyway is no way to treat someone -- at least someone you want to come back.

Some comments on the Times article pointed out that all sorts of freelancers work with such risks. If a client doesn't need the work, they don't get paid. And I get that, but a relationship with your babysitter is -- or should be -- more personal.

Now, if you know weeks or maybe even days in advance that you're going to need to cancel, that's different. It at least gives them a chance to fill that spot, and then I probably wouldn't pay them under most circumstances (I also would try not to do it often). But for last-minute, day-of cancellations, I don't think there's any question you should pay the sitter what she would have made had you kept your original plans.

It sucks, believe me I know, to shell out cash for a service you're not even using, and babysitters aren't cheap. But it's the right thing to do, and if ever you're going to err on the side of generosity, shouldn't it be with the people with whom you're entrusting your children's care?

Do you think you should pay babysitters if you cancel?


Image via heidielliott/Flickr

Read More >