I was never a very good babysitter.
At least, I never had the bustling trade that so many of my friends in high school seemed to have. (One girlfriend had such a network of families that she was hard-pressed to find a night when she wasn't watching somebody's kids.)
I didn't mind so much; at the most, I made $30 for the evening. But kids these days? They're doing a lot better than that.
For more than a decade, child-care service UrbanSitter has tracked average babysitting rates across the nation. Within the past year, there was a 9.7 percent increase in babysitting rates, outpacing the inflation rate of 7 percent. The national average hourly rate for babysitting one child is $22.68 and rises to $25.37 an hour for two children.
Phoenix parents get the best deal, at an average rate of $17.61 for one child (and $20.01 for two children). San Francisco ($25.24 for one child and $28.31 for two) and Los Angeles ($22.74 for one child and $25.61 for two) families, not so much.
Any guesses on where our own bustling city ranked? Not surprisingly, Seattle ranks No. 2 at $24.60 for one child and $26.28 for two per hour. Only San Francisco is more expensive. Yikes!
How do you know how much you should be paying your babysitter? According to UrbanSitter, in addition to the average rate in your area, there are several factors to consider:
- Location. Are you conveniently located? Near a university or bus stop or other public transportation hub? If not, your rate might be higher if getting to your home requires a long commute for your sitter.
- Job responsibilities. Will your babysitter be caring for more than two children? Do you need them to help with homework, meal prep, laundry, transportation or walking the family dog? These additions could bump up that hourly rate.
- Skills and experience. Babysitters with extensive experience or training will likely charge more than the teenager down the street.
- Transportation. Some babysitters want to be reimbursed for their travel, or be supplied with a bus card. If you need your babysitter to drive your child to school or other activities, consider the cost of gas for those trips as well.
- Additional expenses. If you want your babysitter to take your children to the zoo or a movie or on other outings, consider those expenses when planning your child-care budget.
- Special needs. Babysitters with training, skills and experience caring for children with special needs might charge a higher hourly rate.
The UrbanSitter analysis for 2023 also reveals rates for other aspects of caregiving, reporting national average rates for pet sitting ($21.45 per hour), housekeeping ($27.76) and senior companionship ($22.03).
Price that all out and what do you learn? We spend a lot of money on household management.
Which has me rethinking my own career goals ... Anybody hiring a babysitter?
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in May 2018, and has been updated with information for 2023.