adoptive parents

Smart Spending on Sitters

Story timeYou deserve a night out with your spouse every once and a while, but paying for a sitter on top of dinner and a show– you can rack up the bill to a few hundred dollars just for one evening out. Here’ are some tips you need to know to find a sitter you can trust at a price you can afford.


Don’t pay more than the going rate.

  • Average babysitting rates vary dramatically from one part of the country to another, so ask a few local parents what they usually pay. For example, the hourly rate for caring for one child in Philadelphia, PA, can run between $12 and $15, while the rate in Chesapeake, VA is upwards of $8 to $11. Remember, though, that you’ll pay more if your child has special dietary or other needs, or if you have three or more kids. Hourly rates bottom out if the sitter is under 18, while experienced nurses, teachers, and other professionals will require a bit more.

Paying more won’t guarantee a better babysitter.

  • Even if a sitter comes with experience and good credentials, you should always do a thorough interview, ask for several recent references, and then call them to ask about the sitter’s performance. In the interview, discuss the candidate’s childcare experience, and ask what she’d do in several hypothetical problem situations. Most importantly, listen to your gut.

Hire College Students

  • Some colleges have babysitting services offering experienced sitters at reasonable rates (plus transportation back to campus). In New York City, almost half of Barnard College’s 2,200 female students babysit, and other colleges have similar lists of available students (some schools even have training programs). Another resource: Try asking a friend’s daycare provider or baby “gym” teacher if she wants some extra cash for sitting. If your children are old enough you might even find a responsible local high school student–just ask around for someone reputable.

Get More For Your Money

  • If you develop a regular relationship with a sitter, consider sending her to a babysitting course. Many are run by hospitals and Red Cross centers and cost as little as $30. You’ll truly relax on your night out if you know that your babysitter can handle basic first aid, spot a safety hazard, and perform infant CPR.

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