Figuring out how much to pay your babysitter is always a tough job. You want to be competitive with other families and keep your amazing sitter happy, but you don’t want to break the bank just to get out of the house. Figuring out how much to pay a sitter for New Year’s Eve, which is the most popular day of the year for babysitters, can be even more confusing, and the rate you offer has a big impact on your success in landing a sitter. Because there are more parents looking for childcare for the holiday than there are quality sitters available, offering too little can bump you out of the competition.
So what can you expect to pay? Most sitters charge one and a half to two times their normal rate on New Year’s Eve. If you’re lucky enough to have your regular sitter care for your kids that night, it’s a good bet you can simply multiply her normal rate by 1.5 or 2 and get an acceptable rate. Of course, you want to check with your sitter and make sure that the rate works for her. She may have a different number in mind, or she may require a minimum guarantee.
If you’re booking a new sitter, or hiring someone you haven’t used in a while, start by asking her what her New Year’s Eve rate is. If she babysits on a regular basis she’ll have a good idea of what she expects to earn. If she’s new to sitting or not sure what’s appropriate for the holiday, she may throw the ball back in your court and ask what you’re paying. Although you might be tempted to throw out a low number to see if she’ll bite, you may very well scare her off. Caregivers often don’t feel comfortable negotiating wages with parents, so many of them simply give a yes or no answer based on your first offer. Because of this, when asked what you’re paying, you should offer a range based on your area’s average rate or what you pay your normal sitter. Make it clear that you’re open to discussing a higher rate if that will make the difference between booking her and losing her. Chances are she has several offers on the table, so she’ll take the one that offers her the best overall package.
What if you don’t normally use sitters and don’t know what the going rate for your area is? Your first step should be to check in with other parents and see what they’re paying. Location is the biggest factor in determining a sitter’s rate, so parents that live close to you will be able to give you an accurate range. You can also call your local temp nanny agency and see how much their sitters make per hour. Caregivers through temp agencies usually earn close to the area’s average rate. You can also check online sites and see what other parents are paying and what caregivers are asking for. You’ll get a huge range, but you should be able to come up with an average for your area from that range. Once you know your area’s average rate, you can adjust for the holiday from there.
Many sitters charge by the number of children they’ll be caring for. Generally the rate goes up $1 to $2 an hour for each child over 2 or 3 children. If you have a large family or will have extra kids for the holiday, this can make a big difference in how much it will cost you to go out. Talk with the sitter before booking her to make sure you understand how she will be calculating her hourly rate.
Some sitters will require a minimum number of hours, for instance 6 to 8, on New Year’s Eve to ensure that they’re making the most they can on a night where their services are in high demand. Because most parents make a full night of it, this normally isn’t an issue. However, if you’re planning on only being out for a few hours, make sure to check with your sitter before booking her for the night. Otherwise you might end up paying a lot more than you expected to.
Even though you’ll be paying a higher than normal hourly rate on New Year’s Eve, consider tipping your sitter for a job well done. It’s hard to find a reliable, quality sitter, and giving just a little bit extra along with a big thank you can go a long way in creating a long-term relationship.
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