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Adventures in Babysitting: How much to pay for childcare?

Most of you have probably heard of Sittercity.com, which is an online service most known for its network of babysitters and nannies. I’ve never used it, but friends have spoken highly of it and especially like that you can browse profiles to learn about sitters’ backgrounds and experiences and that many of them come with completed background checks.

Sittercity recently put out a list called the “Top 10 Cities to Find a Babysitter." Now this list is in no ways scientific, since it's based on factors on Sittercity's own website, including the number of babysitters available in the market and the average hourly rates they are paid. But I thought it raised some interesting questions, especially because No. 3 on the list was our very own Naperville, where sitters are paid an average of $11.29 an hour, according to job descriptions parents posted on the site.

Sittercity didn’t specify how many kids those sitters were watching, or how much experience they have. But the website does have a kind of cool babysitter rates calculator. For instance, it tells me that if I were to hire an 18- to 21-year-old sitter, with two to four years experience, to watch two children in Geneva I should expect to pay $10.75 an hour.

So what do you think of those rates? Is that similar to what you pay a babysitter? Are your sitters usually high school students, or are they older? How do you find sitters? Through an online service like Sittercity, or networking with friends or neighbors? Or do you mostly rely on family members for those times when you just have to get away?

Reader Comments (7)

I like to pay 10-12$ an hour.....so they keep coming back and say "yes" to me over another offer :) I have 3 kids, but they are usually in bed within 30 mins of an evening sitter arriving - so an easy gig!

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

I usually pay $10/hour. I have 3 kids and they're all in bed usually about 1 hour after she arrives, but I would like her to keep babysitting, that's why $10 and I think 3 kids is a lot of work (they're all 5 and under). What is most important is that my kids like her.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I pay one of my sitters, who is a sophomore in high school, $6 an hour for 2 kids. She has only babysat for me a few times, though, so once I feel confident in her abilities and know that I'll keep her on as a regular sitter, I'll probably go up a bit. My other babysit is 19 and is out of high school, but hasn't gone to college yet. She is available during days and nights which is very convenient. I pay her $8 an hour, but I often think maybe this isn't enough. She is awesome and I have been using her for over 3 years. She never even asked for more, from when I first started using her and paid her $6 an hour, which is what she told me. I figured, though, that once my second son was born, I should pay her more. Maybe I should ask her if I'm paying her enough?

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGinger

We rely on family to watch our daughter, though occasionally I have asked friends to watch her during the day for those appointments that you just cant take your kid to.

10 years ago I was paid $6-9 an hour depending on ages and # of kids. I think even now $7-10 is plenty. Its more than min wage and they dont pay taxes! Besides cost of living hasnt gone up for teens, they dont exactly pay rent or buy grocerys!

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJodi

How do you find a good nanny/sitter? My husband has to go to Philly for 11 weeks and I will need help during the week for my 2 yr old and newborn when I go back to work. I have no idea how to go about finding someone to watch them.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Hi Lisa,
I can certainly understand why that's an overwhelming task when you have a newborn, a toddler and a husband who is going to be out of state for an extended period of time. So you would prefer someone who would come to your home to watch your children? Would it be a 40-hour a week job, or more part-time, and would it end once your husband returns home or continue? Perhaps other readers have tips for finding a good sitter or nanny. Of if you can let us know in general where you live and someone has a specific recommendation for a good sitter or nanny, I'd be glad to forward that to Lisa's email. -Tara

September 2, 2010 | Registered CommenterTara Burghart

I live in Geneva. I am looking for 2-3 days a week, 8-9hrs (so I can work a full day). There is definitely a chance that it will continue after he is back because I will continue to work. I prefer that they be cared for in my home.

September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

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