The average cost of babysitters is on the rise, but many parents say a great sitter is like a member of the family. Photo by Trinette Reed/Stocksy.
When you’ve got kids, oftentimes the most expensive thing about date night isn’t a restaurant dinner or movie ticket — it’s paying for a sitter. And according to a new survey from Care.com the cost is on the rise.
Care.com released the results from their first annual Babysitter Survey on Monday, and the numbers are eye-opening — especially if you’re planning for time away from the kids. The survey, which had more than one thousand respondents, found that the 2014 national average pay rate for a babysitter, whether it be a full-time caregiver, or an after-school or date-night sitter, was $13.44 per hour — that’s up more than a dollar since 2013, when the average was $12.07. (Over the last five years, the rate has skyrocketed a full 28 percent. In 2009, babysitters made an average of $10.50 per hour.)
For some parents, that $13.44 is just a base rate. Twenty-six percent of moms and dads tip their sitters, 87 percent give an annual raise, and one in 10 parents pay an extra $5 per hour for a babysitter booked at the last minute.
Of course, if you live in San Francisco, $13 and change might sound like a great deal, since the average cost there — the highest in the country — is a whopping $16.65 per hour. The other priciest cities are San Jose ($15.63), Boston ($15.37) and New York ($15.09). But parents in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Columbia, S.C., have a slightly lighter load. As the cities with the least-expensive babysitters, the average rates are only $11.31 and $11.72, respectively.
If you think these prices seem excessive, you’re not alone. According to Care.com, one in four parents think they pay too much for their child care — but, overall, the sitters set the rates.
So what are parents getting for these prices? The survey found that the ideal babysitter for most families is between 20 and 25, CPR or First Aid certified, and a non-smoker. “People are expecting more from their caregivers and they are willing to pay for it,” Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor for Care.com, tells Yahoo Parenting. “Parents want experience. They value that. It’s no longer the kid down the street who will just sit there and eat Doritos all night.”
While babysitting might have once been considered an easy gig, Bugbee says the increased cost reflects growing expectations from both sitters and parents. “The shift to helicopter moms and tiger parents means we are expecting more from our caregivers and that’s nice to see,” she says. “The sitters want to be great at their jobs. Millennials are graduating college and becoming nannies or babysitters and the interest is there to perfect the profession. We’re seeing the evolution of the field on both sides.”
But despite these growing expectations, Care.com’s survey found that 62 percent of parents have hired a babysitter without checking references and 64 percent have hired without running a background check. (Despite these skipped precautions, 41 percent of parents told Care.com that they completely trust their sitter.)
For those looking to cut costs, Care.com suggest putting your kids to bed before you head out the door. One in five parents pay a lower rate if their kids are asleep. Other cost-saving methods: hiring someone with less experience, or sharing a sitter with a friend.
Despite all these numbers, if there’s a grand takeaway from this survey it might not be the cost of your babysitter but just how valuable he or she really is. For half of all parents, the most important thing when hiring for childcare is that the kids love the sitter — and when the kids don’t love their babysitter, 20 percent of parents say they’d be willing to poach someone else’s. A great babysitter is so valuable that 16 percent of parents say they won’t even share their babysitter’s contact information with a friend.
Babysitters may be pricey, but if you find one you love, treat him or her well, Bugbee says. “The sitters are relying on the pay and the family is relying on the sitter,” she says. After all, the survey found that 31 percent of parents say they consider their sitter to be pare of the family. “Your caregiver should know how much you value her. Remember, you are all working together to raise this exceptional human being.”