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

Rant 22

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

in the news, child care


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Craft... CraftyJenna

No. My husband and I are independant contractors, we count on people showing up for appointments to make our living. But if they don't, or cancel last minet, we don't get paid. And it sucks, it really does especially if you were counting on the money- but we don't expect to get paid for a service that was never received either. I think if you want to be nice or feel bad, maybe give the babysitter something- especially if she is already on her way when you ahve to cancel- but I would not pay her the same ammount she would have made had we kept our plans. 

Wheep... Wheepingchree

My sitter is a teenage kid who doesn't have another job and doesn't sit for many other people, so I don't know...I think it would depend on HOW last minute it is.  I only pay her $6/hour, so if I were to still pay her for the 2-3 hours she would have been there, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to us.

Roxygurl Roxygurl

I agree. I'm a full time nanny and a babysitter on the side with a fiancé and a kid. When I say yes to babysit I count on that money for something, usually something frivolous but that's beside the point. If someone cancels on me and doesn't pay me then it is irritating because I usually have turned down several other jobs for that one.

I never get angry and I've lucked out and have only had people cancel a few times but if it happened regularly I would quit babysitting for that family.

Angie... AngieHayes

Well, maybe my babysitter should start paying me because she has cancled before AFTER I went out and bought an outfit, made reservations, and picked up some nail polish...

prinz... prinzesa_edith

no, if she wants to still come and help out with the other kids she'll get paid, otherwise no. 

Monique Lynn Thompson

Not everyone has the money to pay for services not rendered especially with babysitters charging more then ten dollars an hour for three children where I am from.  Going out for dinner and a movie costs fifty dollars in babysitter fees before we even leave the house.

Rebecca Peterson

Nope. I don't pay the babysitter when I cancel. You know why? Yes, you set aside the time for me, but MANY people in life, do the same, set time aside for someone, and somebody cancels for whatever reason, and tough cookies. If a client cancels on a contractor, the client isn't going to pay for a servive they never saw/heard/touched etc. Why should I pay a babysitter, when I am not using her service. If she/he was really counting on the money, tough cookies.

Austi... Austinsmommy12

I think you should give them something if you change plans voluntarily. A sick baby or emergency I would understand, but just casually changing your plans the day of and THEN cancelling is wrong. Depending on what they make per hour, at least give them a portion of it. They were ready to come, and now their plans are ruined. Who knows what kind of bills they have? It might be their only job, but it might also be a second job to help pay a utility bill or put food on their table.

Melanie Rae

For the record, freelancers hate this as well and it's very disprespectful to anyone who has invested time in you, your life and your ideas. Giving a freelancer or a baby sitter an appropriate tip is the best way to keep the world around you happy and let you know that you appreciate them.

Mrs.A... Mrs.AdamSarah

I babysit, I do not believe I should be paid if the parents cancel. I have needed money sometimes more than most people but still do not believe I have earned something of which I did not earn, though I don't see anyone turning away free money. I still think a good balance would be something like maybe paying for their gas or something if you have to cancel usually 20 bucks works unless they live an hour or so out and have to drive to you then maybe more for gas but not the whole amount? I don't know.

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