Last night I was talking to a friend while having dinner, and we were talking about babysitting and how the cost of living has gone up so much in Denver the last year. We were laughing about our dinner bill because my friend had thought the total price was the price per person after we split it. Yes, prices have gone up but not THAT much! After we quit laughing we talked about my business and how going to dinner people will pay a large amount for a good meal and a good glass or bottle of wine but they will complain about the cost of paying a babysitter. Weird right? That a dinner could have more value then a person who is watching your kids.
Yes, childcare has gone up, and yes, there is a thin line between under paying and over paying for childcare. There are so many factors to paying a babysitter, how many children, what’s the average rate for your area, should you pay extra for advanced degrees in childhood education? And, is babysitting that difficult to constitute paying above minimum wage, plus paying for when the kids are in bed and the babysitter is simply watching TV, sleeping, on their phone, etc. What about tipping? I personally believe in only tipping when a person is being paid minimum wage or less so tipping a babysitter isn’t necessary, and I say that to my families when they ask what my agency’s policy is on that.
The answer to these questions is subjective, and it is up to each family to decide what is important to them. The main thing you’re paying for is safety. Do you feel confident that the babysitters in your home are going to keep your kids safe, are they responsible and able to think for themselves, do they take babysitting seriously, and do they go the extra mile if the kids are asleep or playing independently? If you have a babysitter that you trust emphatically that you trust, your kids trust, and the safety of the kids is never worried about then you should pay that babysitter more but only once they’ve proven themselves.
If you go through an agency then you can plan on paying more because you’re paying a third party to manage babysitters, pay babysitters, schedule babysitters, and go through all of the recruiting headaches to find babysitters for you and your family; not-to-mention being a conflict manager when necessary. You don’t have to handle any unpleasantness when you aren’t happy including letting babysitters go. Usually you’ll pay a yearly fee plus an administrative fee/agency fee that can be from $15+ per day when you use an agency.
One thing you MUST remember is just because you pay more than the going rate doesn’t ALWAYS equate getting a better babysitter. Your kids are important but you shouldn’t over value or under value the job of babysitter.