No One Can Agree On How Much A Babysitter Is Worth

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

One mom complains about the cost of babysitting, but what’s a fair wage?

Confession time: my husband and I never go out alone. Not because we don’t want to, believe me. We just simply can’t afford to tack $80 for a babysitter on to the price tag of a night out right now. We have two children, and $20 is the going rate.

Do I wish it was cheaper? Hell yes! Do I understand why it’s not? Unfortunately, yes. It’s so hard to determine what a fair price for this is. And honestly, I can’t decide whether I think it’s absurd to demand that much money, or absurd to think it’s not okay. This babysitter thing is so confusing.

There’s a post on SheKnows this week causing quite a stir. It’s about, you guessed it, babysitting. The author says “there’s no way I’m paying a babysitter $20 an hour to watch TV with my kids.” So what then, is a fair price to pay someone to be somewhere where they have to keep other humans alive and can’t leave? I’m not being a jerk, it’s an honest question.

“If I am going to pay $20 an hour for someone to watch my children, I am expecting some Mary Poppins type of shit. I want my kids to be entertained, to get some exercise, and I definitely don’t want to have to pick up after my sitter when they leave,” writes Mary Sauer. “Instead, I suspect the people I have hired are flipping on the TV and pulling out their smartphone the second I walk out the door. My home is messier than when I left, and my kids excitedly tell me they got to watch Daniel Tiger, and My Little Pony, and Little Einsteins… and Princess Sofia while I was gone.”

It’s easy to see why a parent would think $20 bucks to hang out and play with my kid? That’s highway robbery! But being somewhere you’re being paid to be is the definition of a job. Babysitting is a job, it’s not parenting or hanging out. These people aren’t in your house for fun — they are there to make money — whether you think they deserve it or not. It’s funny how motherhood is a “job” until someone else has to do it — then all of a sudden we’re wondering why people want money to “hang out” with our kids.

On the flip side, daycare workers don’t even make $20 an hour. Or most teachers, for that matter. If babysitting at that wage were a full time job, that person would be making almost $42,000 a year. It’s easy to see why some people have an issue with that. It’s a lot of money to hand a teenager to watch your child for a few hours.

Here are some comments on the article itself:

You’re paying someone to be RESPONSIBLE for your child’s LIFE! The best way to get a terrible babysitter is to underpay & treat them poorly. I would never work for someone that had your attitude, sounds like a nightmare. Why would I want to work HARD for you if you don’t think I’m worth a decent wage.

Do you even realize how much being a babysitter even costs these days? CPR certification, background checks, transportation, subscriptions to care finder websites, etc. You’re not paying for some pimple neighborhood brat to watch your kids anymore. Babysitting without care qualifications is too risky. You’re paying for experience and expertise.

$20 is absolutely ridiculous. IF I didn’t have my mother to watch my daughter for free on occasion then I would ask another “mom girlfriend” that knows my daughter and I well. Not someone I don’t know, not some ignorant teen, but a responsible mom that I have a relationship with.

Who is going to stay at your house for a couple of hours for just $10/hr? No one. Its not worth anyone’s time for that little money. You are paying someone for the convenience of calling on them a few times a month. They do not have a contract with you and therefore no stable income from watching your kids. If you aren’t willing to pay someone $20/hr to care for the well being of your children then you need a serious reality check.

The national average for babysitter prices rose 28% in five years according to In 2010, the average was 10.50/hour. In 2014, it was up to $13.44. The average in my area is $15/hour, but I’ve still never been able to find someone for less than $20 for two kids. also has a going rate calculator where you can find the average for your area.

Bottom line is — are babysitters expensive? Yes. Are they worth it? Yes. Will we eternally be bitching about it? Of course.

Fair’s fair.

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