How much to pay your babysitter

As a parent, you are bound to need a babysitter at some point in your child’s life. But how much are you going to have to pay for those few hours of childcare? Whether it’s a night out, a work function or an important appointment where the kids can’t come along, a babysitter makes it so much easier.

Of course, you want to know that whomever you are leaving your child with is capable and you want to pay good babysitting rates to ensure a good service.

We asked the question “what do babysitters charge these days?” and found as much information as we possibly could on the subject. Whether you’re looking for a once-off sitter for the night or a constant helper for those regular date nights, here are some guidelines on how to pay the babysitter.

Factors that determine babysitter rates

There are many factors that play a part in determining your babysitter’s pay. While most babysitters will have a fairly standard rate card, all families are unique, have individual needs and will, therefore, have different fees.

The best thing to do is determine your expectations and needs first, then find a sitter who fits the bill and discuss payment. Your peace of mind is important when leaving your child with another person, so doing your homework is important.

Experience

The more experienced and qualified your babysitter is, the higher her charge is likely to be. This makes sense as it works the same way in many professions. Your babysitter may only do this part-time, but it’s still a source of income for them.

If your babysitter has many years’ experience, works with children during the day and has qualifications like a first aid course, etc., they are likely to cost you more than the teen next door or someone just starting out.

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Hours

Most babysitters will have a higher fee after midnight. So, if date night goes on past midnight, you may have to pay a steeper hourly rate. Some will also charge a set fee for the first two or three hours and then a little bit less for anything after that. If it’s a weekday, you may get a lower fee than you would for a weekend or public holiday.

There are a few babysitters who also charge less for day sitting than they do for night sitting. All of this can be discussed with your babysitter beforehand.

Occasion

If you are hiring a sitter for a personal occasion, such as your wedding anniversary, chances are rates will be pretty standard. On the other hand, for universal occasions, such as New Years’ Eve and other holidays, expect to pay a bit more.

Babysitters during these times are high in demand, and are giving up their own nights to earn money and help you enjoy a night out, so most would agree that they are worth a bit more than usual.

Notice period

If you hire your babysitter at the last minute, they may need to rearrange their own plans in order to accommodate you. This may result in fees being a bit higher than the usual appointment. It’s best to try and plan things ahead of time.

If you have a regular sitter, though, she’ll most likely understand the occasional emergency or spontaneous dinner out – again that’s something to discuss with her.

Number of children

The number of children being taken care of, as well as their ages, could be a big deciding factor for your babysitter’s fees. The more children you have in the house, the harder it will be to make sure they are all safe and secure (and in bed on time).

It’s definitely not a good idea to plan a slumber party on the same night you need a sitter.

Some agencies will require you to hire more than one babysitter if there are more than three or so kids. If you have a private sitter and your kids are not all toddler age, they’ll be able to tell you if they can handle more than three or four kids at a time.

Agency vs private

When you hire an agency, you are paying for the admin that they do, the background checks, hiring of staff, etc. With a private babysitter, however, you are essentially cutting out the middleman, meaning the rates are going to be a bit lower. You can find average rate cards on agency websites.

If you have the time to do the checks and admin yourself, it is most likely cheaper to hire a private babysitter, especially if you have a babysitter that comes with references from friends and family. If you are short on time, or simply want to leave it to the professionals to ensure you have a trusted person looking after your little ones, an agency is definitely worth the price.

child-with-babysitter

Benefits of the job

There are certain benefits you can include in your babysitter payment to help make your sitter feel valued. If you are coming home late, make sure she has a safe way to get home, that won’t cost her most of her earnings. Leaving cash for the sitter to order a meal is also a great way to make things a bit easier and more pleasant for him/her.

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Average babysitter rates in South Africa 2020

Most babysitters set their own rates, but you will want to be sure that you are not overpaying for your service. According to Payscale.com, the average babysitter rates for 2020 is R66.13 to R80.65 per hour

Some babysitters can go up to R150 an hour, but that’s for world-class childcare from the professionals.

When and how to pay your babysitter

Babysitters are usually working ad hoc hours to fill gaps in their income. Whether they are students or teachers needing some extra cash, it’s usually much more beneficial to them to be paid cash on the night rather than waiting for you to transfer the money into their bank accounts, which can take time and involve bank charges.

This also avoids the chances of you forgetting to pay them and an awkward conversation about overdue payments.

“The best way to ensure a consistent and happy relationship with your babysitter is to pay them what they are worth, pay them on time and try not to call at the last minute too often.”

Babysitting rates per day

Babysitters who are hired for a full day, during weekends or holidays while schools are closed usually have different rates to those who hired for just a couple of hours.

At home babysitting during the day fees vary between R180 to over R400 for 6 to 8 hours.

Babysitting rates for two kids

When discussing your sitter’s typical babysitting rate, be sure to find out if this is for a certain number of children. Babysitting rates may differ if there are multiple children involved. Some sitters have a standard hourly rate, but levy additional charges per extra child.

How much to pay a teenage babysitter

A teen’s babysitting rates may be slightly lower due to a lack of experience and, in most cases, they are your family, friends or neighbours. However, you still want them to act professionally and take the best care of your child. For this reason, you should avoid underpaying your teenage babysitter.

As we mentioned, the average babysitter rates start at R66.13 p/h. If your teen sitter agrees to a lower fee to help you out on a budget etc., you could make it up by ensuring they have a lift home, a meal to eat and any other benefits you are able to give – perhaps the Wi-Fi password if they can be trusted to make sure that the children are in bed and sleeping before relaxing.

Mother’s helper rates (nannies)

A mother’s helper, unlike a babysitter, is someone who helps with the baby while one or both of the parents are around. They will help with taking care of the baby, cleaning, cooking and other household duties while the parent who is home is otherwise busy. They may also attend outings and events to help with the child while out.

Mother’s helpers can be useful when dealing with more than one child, especially when they are close in age. They are also hired when the parent at home also works from home, and so is around but unable to tend to the child’s needs throughout the day.

Mother’s helpers are known as nannies in South Africa.

Nanny vs babysitter pay

A nanny is more likely to work on a full-time basis or, at the very least consistent shifts. They may come in daily, three times a week or a certain number of days per month, but they are not likely to be hired once-off or only on occasion, much like a babysitter would be.

For this reason, paying your nanny would be a weekly or monthly amount, rather than an hourly or nightly amount. In South Africa, the minimum wage for a nanny is now R15 per hour, so a nanny that works a full 45-hour week will earn just under R675 minimally per week.

This is, of course, minimum pay according to the law. It is worth considering that nannies are often the breadwinners for their entire families and do exceptional work looking after children and deserve a living wage to keep them and their families financially stable.

A living wage is defined as an amount that can cover basic expenses so that a person can live a “frugal but dignified life” (Hopkins, 2016). This is calculated on an individual basis, taking into account their particular situation in life and the expenses that are necessary for survival. It is therefore dependant on the number of family members a person is supporting, how far they live from their employer and therefore transport costs, and a few other factors.

How do you figure out what is a living wage for your nanny, since each nanny’s situation is different? Start out by talking to her. Find out exactly what her expenses are and from there you can see what a reasonable wage would be. The non-profit organisation Code4SA has done all the hard work and research for us by creating an online living wage calculator to figure out what your household worker’s salary should be! Just punch the info you have gathered from your nanny into their calculator and it will give a suggested amount: www.living-wage.co.za (NB, you need to click on “calculate expenses” and then “show assumptions”; don’t just use the sliding scale that comes up at first.) It will allow you to specify your nanny’s details so that it is specific to her situation: household size, food cost, transportation cost, housing cost, healthcare cost, education cost, communication cost, recreation cost and other costs.

Don’t forget that any extra hours that the nanny works, over weekends or holidays, should be paid as overtime. It is important that your nanny knows that she is a valued employee and that her extra work is seen and accounted for.

Au pairing rates

Au pairs in South Africa have a different definition to those overseas. Internationally, au pairs are known as young foreign internationals who travel to a new country, live with a family and learn the culture while offering childcare services. In South Africa, an au pair is someone hired primarily to look after children.

Unlike a nanny, an au pair will not expect to do any housework or cooking. They will most likely have their own transport and will make sure that the children are able to attend after-school sports and extra-mural activities while the parents are unable to.

child-reading-book-with-babysitter

Homework would also be something an au pair takes care of, and general caretaking until the parents arrive home from work or other duties. Au pairs could also attend events and functions to handle the childcare, like nannies. Some families take their au pairs on vacation with them, which is both an experience for the au pair and a helping hand for the parents.

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Au pair payment

An au pair working full time for a family, at an average of 40 hours per week, with her own car would expect to earn anywhere from R7 000 to R11 000 per month. Of course, the salary would depend on how many children there are, as well as how often driving needs to be done and whether petrol is included or comes as a separate payment.

Anything over the usual hours, such as outings or vacations, should be discussed with the au pair. If the au pair doesn’t need to use their own car and has use of a family car, an average salary of R5 000 to R7 000 can be expected. Most au pairs are required to have at least a driver’s licence. From there, families can decide if there are any other qualifications needed, such as first aid, etc.

If children are in higher grades and need homework support, your au pair may also need a certain level of education behind them to be able to help with certain subjects.

Payment for anything over the usual hours, such as outings or vacations should be discussed with the au pair. If the vacation is fully paid for, the au pair may agree to work her hours during the time in exchange for her accommodation and food. Alternatively, a lower rate may be agreed upon.

So, how much should I pay my babysitter?

Hopefully, you now feel more confident in handling the payment for your next sitter. It’s important to remember that this person will be trusted with taking care of your child, and should be made to feel suitably valuable.

No one wants to pay more for a service than its worth, but no one likes to be underpaid for their job. The best way to ensure a consistent and happy relationship with your babysitter is to pay them what they are worth, pay them on time and try not to call at the last minute too often. These three things will help keep the lines of communication open. They’ll also be less likely to cancel on you, or worse, quit the job.

After reading this article, we are curious to hear how much you pay your sitter or how much you believe a babysitter should be paid. Answer the poll below to share your opinion.

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