Royal Genes

Safe For Kids

How much to pay Babysitter for three kids

16 Dec 2006 13:42:07 -0800

We have just recently moved to a new area and I am having a tough time
finding babysitters... so I am wondering if I am not offering enough
money. We have three kids, (8, 7 & 5)... I normally pay $6 an hour
with a minimum of $20... meaning if we only go out for two hours, we
pay $20 instead of only $12... just wondering what other parents are
paying for sitters?

Merle Finch...
I paid $5/hr for one child fifteen years ago. Around here, it's
incredibly difficult for parents to find babysitters, because the
teens can work for local retailers/coffee shops/bookstores, etc. and
make $7-8/hr. So that's what they do.

When my daughter was a teen, she was very picky about babysitting
jobs, becaus she could pick-and-choose. She only sat for difficult
children once and refused all subsequent requests. Even then, the
parents paid her at least $6/hr and they did things like gave her
movie tickets they weren't going to use or small gifts or something to
entice her to come back. She had a steady stream of calls from the
parents of the children she liked to care for, so it was easy for her
to refuse the others.

We even had one set of parents who begged us to have our daughter sit
for their three girls because their regular sitter was "unavailable."
We put pressure on our daughter and she took the job. She said it was
a nightmare. The two older girls were all over the place doing things
they knew they weren't supposed to do while my daughter was busy with
the baby. The parents paid her an okay rate but that evening after
she had bailed them out of their dilemma, the father called to
complain that the house was a mess, the girls had broken all kinds of
house rules (that neither parent had mentioned to my daughter) and the
girls hadn't been fed (which was a lie). Seems they wanted her to do
housework, too, which is not an uncommon expectation in the
babysitting world. I still spit nails whenever I see those people
around town. A**holes.

I'm not unsympathetic to your dilemma, but three
elementary-school-aged children are more than a handful for one
teenager so I find it surprising that you can get anyone to come in
for $6/hr. It's just not worth it to them. Not like they have bills to
pay or anything. And they have more palatable options elsewhere.

$5.00 per child, minimum. Kids are your most precious things in your
life - don't be stingy! Here babysitters get a minimum of $10/hour for
one child.

I had no idea the rates were so high. We don't go anywhere and I guess we
won't be making any plans :lol:

Dh and I need to go into babysitting I think. Dh for sure. He'd make way

I usually pay $10/hour for 2 children. The going rate is different in
different areas, though. I don't understand the money angle, though -
I don't offer money to babysitters; babysitters tell me what they charge.

We have 2 kids, $15/hour, 1 hour minimum (e.g., if I only need someone
for 30 minutes, I still pay $15). No tip, though, as $15 -- seemingly
the going rate around here (MA) -- strikes me as steep.

Yikes. Sure is. Just south of the border here in CT (greater Hartford) the
average is about $10/hour. I do round up though, mostly for my own
convenience so in the end it probably ends up being around $12/hour. I am in
a babysitting coop though so I don't pay for babysitting all that often.
Therefore, I don't mind when I do have to.

Ericka Kammerer...
Around here, you wouldn't get a sitter for that
rate. It's pretty much a minimum of $10/hour to get
anyone interested, unless the babysitter is very new
and young. I'd expect to pay more than $10/hour for
three kids.

Best wishes,

We paid $10 per hour for two kids last year. We often rounded up. If it
was 1 1/2 hours, we paid for two hours.

I pay $5 an hr for 2 kids ... most of the time I give her an extra $5.
Lately my sitter hasn't been calling me back ... I'm wondering if she
isn't happy w/ the $$. I wish she would just say something ... but I
don't think I could have at her age either (16 yo)
She is great w/ the kids but she is pretty shy.

Every time this question comes up, I'm shocked at how much people pay
sitters! When I was a kid, I think I made about $2/hour. Of course
it would be more now, but as a comparison, minimum wage was about
$3/hour back then. Now it's, what? $5.15/hour? We didn't
particularly expect to be paid minimum wage because 1) we were
generally younger than working age, and 2) since no taxes, etc. were
taken out, you were actually making out better than you would at
minimum wage anyway. Besides, for nighttime sitting, so much of it

Cathy Kearns...
When my daughter was 11 the local barn paid her $6 an hour to help out with
the summer camps, escorting little kids around the barn. It was tax free,
went into her account which her lessons came out of. She makes $10 a day

Our local YMCA does this every few months. Its more like $25 per kid, but
still a pretty good deal for those that have a hard time finding a
babysitter. I believe they are doing it again on New YEars Eve, with a
sleepover (for more expense, but still...)

pet sitting, which is about one hour a day or less to feed cats.

Also the high school kids around here are extremely busy. Many, many people
ask my daughter to babysit, she turns down all but one family, which she'll
only babysit very infrequently. Her friends all are in situations where
they are not looking for more babysitting jobs. All of them charge $10 an
hour for two kids, $20 minimum. This is in the San Francisco bay area.
Minimum wage in California is $6.75 an hour. Minimum wage in San Francisco
is $8.50.

really *is* sitting! How many times did I put the kids to bed at 7:30
and then sit there and watch TV until 11:00?

So to me, $5/hour with a $10 minimum and a round up to the next hour
seems plenty generous. I don't know what the norm around here is,
because we hardly ever go out without the kids. It's true though that
the sitters never seem to want to tell you what they charge. They
just say, "Whatever you think is fine." I'm trying to find a sitter
now so that we can start to have a regular night out, and if it's
going to be $30 or more for the night, I don't think we'll be able to
afford it!

It's not a question of being generous or not - it's a matter of what the
going rate in your area is. A 14-year-old would probably babysit for

OMG -- 76 channels, and they can't find anything to watch unless their

It also depends on how you are defining the figures. When we go to the
movies (which we do very rarely) we DO usually buy snacks. But that
generally involves buying ONE tub of popcorn for the three of us. (And
usually Shaina will get a drink and her parents will sneak sips from
time to time.) So does that mean 100% of us have bought snacks, or 33
1/3% of us have bought snacks?


favorite shows have been TIVO'd?!! Wah, wah, wah.

i have satellite, it has more than 76 channels, but i never
watch because there's nothing worth wasting my time with.
nothing even worth background noise for knitting or beading

Why do you have it then?

besides, you're blowing right by the point about not being
able to do homework while sitting & focussing on the 'fun

I responded to the part about the TV because it flabbergasted me.
It's shocking to me that adults, or at least *an* adult, has bought
into the entitlement of teens to the point that she would feel it's
understandable that a teen might not want to get paid to sit there and
watch one of the 76 shows available -- no, it has to be one of their
*favorite* shows! Forget that they all have cell phones and will
probably sit there text messaging all night anyway.

Entitlement? Well, yes - teens, like everyone else, are entitled to
take jobs that offer what they want, and decline jobs that don't offer
what they want. You're entitled to hire them, or decline to hire them.
You're not entitled to their labor at whatever you happen to want to pay.


You're still not getting it. Why would anyone (teen or adult) choose
a babysitting job at say, your home, for $5.15 an hour especially if
there wasn't something like Tivo or another entertainment avenue to
entice them, when they can work for the couple down the road for more

Everyone (adults included) choose jobs at least partly based on
"perks" or "benefits". Why should a teen be any different?

Because, babysitting isn't, uh, a REAL job? (ducking and going back to

Yeah, taking care that my children are safe isn't a real job. Pfft.


Hey, come back and play :-)

See this is the sort of thing that gets you in trouble. The individual teen you
would hire may be one of the many not into text messaging every other minute.
You have these kids so pigeonholed as to what you think they're about - that I
think is one reason why you find it hard to accept that they'd trade their time
and effort only for something approaching what they'd make elsewhere. You think
about how movie and popcorn money only what's needed, they just sit there and
text anyway...

I didn't respond to the part about the homework, because if a teen has
homework that has to be done and can't be done at someone else's
house, then obviously they would not be able to accept the job.


But the POINT is, that it's not like it's the same *time* they'd be spending at
home. It's a job like any other, where time, energy, and attention is being
traded on the labor market for $$$.

less than $10 an hour in my area, but the babysitters I hire are at

For one kid, I made $1 an hr. while he was awake, .75 an hour after
he went to bed. *I* was fine with it, but I'll happily pay a sitter a
decent wage. They're there, protecting my children, not just sitting
around eating and watching television.


I dont' get this attitude that, because they're watching television, it's not
really a job somehow. It's not their own time, they're not in their own homes

Yeah, well, if it was just like their time at home, it would be worth
nothing at all.

You've got to be kidding. They're taking care of your children! No
wonder you think the fees are outrageous. You're convinced they're
doing next to nothing and getting paid for it.

You guys have me so frustrated that I'm about to start mooing at
everyone! You have all just gotten through telling me that we can't
expect anyone to come watch our kids unless they are paid double the
minimum wage or more (and rounded up to boot), *and* provided them

No, you're not getting it. This is a rant. I can't force parents all
across the country to pay what I want, nor can I set the baby-sitting
fees in my area. Obviously I can't get away with paying $5 if
everyone else is paying $10. But I can still believe that it's
outrageous. I can choose not to get sitters if I believe that the
fees are out of line. And yes, I can even put on my surly curmudgeon
hat and complain about kids these days and their sense of entitlement.

What really gets me is the extent to which adults have bought into
that sense of entitlement.

Personally, I don't think that it's the potential babysitter-hiring
adults you have a beef with, or even the teens themselves. If anyone,
it's the parents of the teens. If they provided their teens with fewer
material advantages, the teens would have a significant incentive to go
find a job, even one that wasn't perfect. As long as teens pretty much
have everything they want without working, it's going to take a very
attractive offer to get them to go work - that's human nature. The
parents who want babysitters are aware of that and are reacting to it.

money for takeout *and* internet access *and* TIVO'd their favorite
shows because it's too much of a burden for them to come over to your
house and put your kids to bed at 8:30 and then be stuck watching
cable or satellite TV for a couple of hours because it's not what they
would be doing at home!

Ruth Baltopoulos...
Personally, I wasn't saying that we can't expect anything
other than the above, but that this seemed to be the trend
these days around my area. With exception to the TIVO, of
course, which is ludicrous IMO (I can't even remember to
record the things I like, much less anyone else!)

We're arguing against your notion that a teen should be happy with $5
an hour and having to sit on the couch and watch only cable because
that's all you're willing to offer.

Just pointing out that you're not likely to get many bites on your

What *I* would have expected is that they are on a job, and heck, if
they're being paid more than some college graduates make, then you'd
think that they might arrange their schedule so that they could devote
the hours they were watching your kids to actually watching your kids,
and not needing to be entertained all the time. Or that if there is
"downtime" because the kids are asleep, that they can provide their
own non-distracting entertainment, or put up with what is available.

Ruth Baltopoulos...
I don't find a problem with any of that. I also think it
isn't the kids expectations so much as parents catering to
what they think will make them happy, and thus keep them
interested in the job.

Sheesh! I'd like to see how these kids transition to life after
school. "Okay, I'll take this job, but I can't come in until 10 on
MWF because I have a spin class I take, and on Thursdays I leave early
because I'm in a drama club, and oh, BTW my drama partner and I do
lunch on Tuesdays to get ready for rehearsal, and so I'll be a couple
hours so we can go over our lines. And BTW, I noticed that your break
room only has coffee -- I'll be needing you to add diet sodas and a
selection of healthy snacks for most days and some candy for when I
get the urge...."

If that's ridiculous, why does my job offer free sodas, flexible hours,
and a number of other desirable perks? It's because I get to choose
what job to take, and if I'm offered more than one, I'm likely to
choose the one that offers the most goodies. Why wouldn't I? As long
as there are enough employers in a given market that there's a bit of
competition for desireable employees, the employers who offer the best
deals are going to find it easier to get good people to come to work
for them. If they figure out that all the best potential hires are
turning them down because they don't offer the flexibility to go to
drama club, they'd start offering that.

It sounds as though you think employers have an obligation to offer
only the basics because otherwise it's somehow unfair (and possibly
kind of anti-work-ethic as well). I don't get it.

Well, you said it better than I could.

Ruth Baltopoulos...
I don't see this as a naturally occurring phenomenon of the
current babysitting trends

Do you guys not see that you are part of the problem? With your never

I do think lots of parents take their kids around because they want them
around. We have full-time daycare. I use it part-time but pay for the
flexibility. I could use it full-time, but I prefer to be with my kids.

As far as higher pay for better talent, I do believe a sitter who is doing
an outstanding job will have lots of job offers. S/he may choose to sit for
someone for less pay because she likes the family, but all things being
equal, s/he would likely choose the family that she both likes and offers
higher wages. Isn't that the same for adults? I prefer to work for someone
I enjoy who give great benefits for less money, but if I can find someone
who I like equally well who offers the same benefits but higher pay, I would
rather take that job, and competition for that job would be stiff. Who
wouldn't want to work for a company that pays well and has excellent
benefits and a wonderful boss? That company could afford to choose from the

Except that a company is driven by the bottom line. They do studies
to find out whether the extra expense actually translates into value
for them. They will even cut back on perks if it makes sense to do

But a company that offers great benefits and good management and high pay
will get a better talent pool to choose from.

Yes, added value. Sometimes the perks are worth it, sometimes not.
Companies, esp. large ones often have more resources to find this
stuff out than individual parents do.

so. For example, where I worked, they have cut way back on travel
expenses. No first class, business class only for flights > 5 hours,

Most companies offer perks. However in most cases you aren't allowed
to pick and choose what those perks are. For example, a lot of
companies won't budge on vacation time no matter how badly they want

no company travel agent, and so on. They've actually cut back on a
lot of other perks too.

Sure. But if they can keep their employees nonetheless. They only cut back as
far as they assess they can do that, without losing people. Maybe they can't.
And that's different in DesMoines IA than it is in Sunnyvale CA.

Your complaint is about not finding labor - no?

cream of the crop.

ending excuses for everything the teens "need"? With your attitude

Cathy Kearns...
Actually that is exactly the point. The teens don't "need" to babysit. The
teens don't want to babysit. They have other ways to make money/spend their
time. As a parent of a teen I don't buy into the sense of entitlement that
parents of younger kids might have thinking they get should get cheap

In many areas the babysitter market is a sellers market. If you see that as
unfair, if the teens are making more than you make for much more flexible
hours and better working conditions go right ahead and jump in. I'm sure
someone would prefer an adult babysitter, and pay you even more.

I don't think anyone is arguing that that's what teenagers "need". Just that
that's the going rate for pay and perks. (Although in my area, at least when my
son was younger, I didn't give nearly all those perks..)

People aren't paid according to what they "need". Let alone what an employer
assess as their "needs"! Good gosh.

There's a lot of common but wrong ideas about how things are priced, including
labor. General contractors should not make enough to sent their kids to
college. Houses are worth their buying price + cost of improvements + whatever.
Used goods are priced according to their last price bought used, minus some for
further use.

Wrong wrong wrong. All of these are set by the market.

Banty (and I don't mind a bit if my GC's musically talented daughters go to

that "if I'm going to get the best sitters, I have to offer more than
the Joneses?" Do you honestly think that parents these days trot
around everywhere with kids in tow because they just can't stand to
part with their dear little darlings even for a second? This is

Ruth Baltopoulos...
I think that most parents are offering what seems to be the
norm in their area, without thinking a whole lot deeper than
that, and I really don't see this as such a huge problem. I
do think it is hard for some of us, who worked really hard
and didn't feel like everything was handed to us, to grapple
with how easy it *appears* some kids have it...

Ericka Kammerer...
I think some people have outdated notions of what's
"easy" for kids. While there are obviously some spoiled and
lazy teens out there, in general teens are not facing the
same environment most of us did years ago. College is increasingly
expensive (even accounting for inflation). School work loads
are greater in many cases, and there is more competition for
many. While I may not know a representative national sample
of teens, the ones I know are fairly representative of *this*
area, and they're working their little backsides off, for the
most part. Now, this area is relatively affluent, so some
of these kids' parents can afford to send them to college
but they're working hard to be competitive so that they can
get into the colleges they want to get into. Others are
working hard to be competitive for scholarships. Some do
need to save a substantial amount of money and are working
significant hours at better paying jobs to achieve that.
So, I don't think these kids are being handed anything on
a silver platter. They're working hard to get where they
want to get in life. It's just that spending their time
babysitting for $5-6/hour isn't part of that plan. The
opportunity cost is too high for them to take those jobs.

Best wishes,

....10 miles to school ... through 6 feet of snow ... summer and winter
.... uphill both ways ...

Ruth Baltopoulos...
Hahahhahaaa!! Exactly I have to bite my tongue when I
start on that particular line of rant with my girls!

It's not nuts to me. Other than a few hours in which my adult ds
watched them, we haven't felt it necessary to hire a sitter. YES,
there are people out there that don't socialize without their kids!
We're a living, breathing example.

Do you really mean that? They're still at YOUR house, committed to YOUR time,
with YOUR rules, watching YOUR kids. Even if you happen to have all the shows
Tivo'ed, and that's what they'd be doing anyway, and the evening goes smoothly.

If you discovered that a night watchman on a quite night, reading a magazine,
would have been reading the same magazine at home anyway, would you pay him

or out doing something else they might like better. They're bring stuff along
like homework to do on their down time just as for many other jobs (tell a toll
booth attendant not to bring a magazine for 3 am?!).

Sure, but then people couldn't start going on with the "When *I* was a kid,
we got paid in DIRT! And we LIKED IT!" comments. ;-)

Yep - but I hate to think of the minimum wages in the late '60's!

We don't have any particular problems getting teen babysitters around here,
but I do wish they'd be more assertive about pay, instead of the typical
wishy-washy "Oh, maybe about $5.00 an hour..." They need to build up those
"give me a raise or I'm walking" skills before they enter the adult work force. ;-)

And I *really* don't get this artificial distinction between "professional"
and teen sitters. I expect the same thing from both of them; Show up on
time, keep the kids safe and the house in one piece, and then entertain yourself
when the tots go to bed. I frankly don't see how a "professional" is going
to do any better job in getting the kids into their jammies than the
15 year old down the street. Either they'll do it, or they won't, and paying
them unequally for doing exactly the same job is insane.

- Rich

The only distinction I make is that teenagers can't drive legally after
midnight, so in the rare once-a-year event that my DH and I go out, I'm
inclined to hire an older adult. That's about it.

I agree as far as the job that's being done for the most part. Indeed, a
younger babysitter may be more in tune with the kids. (My favorite as a kid was
a teen aged boy that built elaborate tinkertoys while we watched.)

I *do* draw a distinction as far as pay. People hire college kids and other
adult babysitters for their greater maturity and experience. Whether or not
that's all that necessary most of the time is another question.) In the job
world, experience and seniority relates to higher pay. I think it's perfectly
fair to expect to pay a college student more than a 14 year old.

But that does not mean that 14 year old babysitting fees aren't a market item
like any other. And it's pretty churlish IMO to count pay according to
perceived use. This idea that a parent is going to decide for him or herself
that a babysitter sits for movie-and-burger money, therefore only owes
movie-and-burger wages. Phooey. Shades of how women were supposed to be only
working for "pin money". I saved my babysitting money for college.

Donna Metler...
The big difference when you go through a sitting agency is that you can find
someone with one call, no hassle, with a minimum amount of notice-the
professional one here can manage an emergency with 2 hours notice in most
cases, and if you're a member family, guarantees to have someone with 24
hours notice (however, they limit the number of member families allowed at a
given time). But you pay for the privilege, to the tune of $75 intial

Thank you! This is what I've been trying to say. Baby-sitting is a
win-win because it offers teens easy convenient money, and parents and
affordable way to go out. When the rates rise to the extent that most
parents can't afford them, or are unwilling to pay them on a regular
basis, then everyone loses. The parents lose because they don't get

Ericka Kammerer...
You're assuming that $10+/hour means that business
drops off. That's not necessarily a correct assumption.
Around here, every teen I know who wants to babysit is
booked to the max at those rates. In fact, parents
jealously hoard babysitters trying to keep them available
for when they want to go out ;-) So, while it may not be
all that equitable a solution for all families, it's
certainly not the case that an unwillingness to pay by
the parents is resulting in a lack of babysitting jobs.

I'm tired of the conversation. All I know is that my parents could
afford to go out on a regular basis, and to non-special events such as
their monthly card game. The people we know now do not socialize
without their kids. They use their very few nights away from the kids
as "date time" to spend together. Something is wrong with a system
where adults cannot afford to get together sans kids.

It sounds like you need to get to know new people, who like to get together
without kids.

Is it that the adults can't afford to get together without the kids or the
adults choose not to get together without the kids? I would argue that the
adults choose to spend money on other things.

If it were a priority for the adults you get together with to do so
without kids, it would be happening.

Personally, I don't see anything wrong. Apparently the people you go out
with want their kids around. That is wonderful. You also want other things.
That's fine, too. Let your friends get together with all their families, and
every now and then, do something else with other people.

I know it is not as easy as I make it sound, but, I bet you can find these
other people. Perhaps they don't even have kids.

Or maybe they are single parents.

I've found good friends. But there are a LOT of people who will pretty much only
socialize in couples.


Ericka Kammerer...
Things may be different in your neck of the
woods, but here, the folks who are not going out are
choosing that because they don't trust anyone else to
watch their kids or they prefer not to go out without
their kids--and there are a *lot* of those folks.

When I was young (I'm 43) my parents went out quite a bit. My mom was
heavily involved in her Sorority and as PTA President so there were
always social functions. Then there were the get-togethers with other
couples in the neighborhood, although we were generally allowed to be
in the house alone since mom and dad were just across the street or
alley at the neighbor's house. So we had babysitters pretty

I'm finding that lots of parents just don't want to socialize sans
kids. When we socialize, the kids go with us. I think it's more that
society has changed in this manner, than it being because people can't
afford a sitter.

Ericka Kammerer...
It sure seems that way to me. I know an awful lot
of people who pride themselves on their kids never having
had a sitter. Personally, I like doing things with my
kids, but I also like doing things without them.

What? An adult wanting to do adult things with other adults?
Shocking! Why do you hate your kids so much? ;-)

I'm with you. I cannot fathom why so many modern
parents seem incapable of doing anything without their
children in tow. Don't these people want to be able to engage
in uninterrupted adult conversation and activities now and then?
Or even just have a nice evening out with just the spouse?

- Rich

See, I'm one of those modern parents -- or rather, I have a modern
spouse. Given DH's hours (even my Dad, when balancing 2 menial jobs,
seemingly had more *time* at home), he'd rather spend the weekend just
hanging out with the kids. I get enough interpersonal interaction with
other parents and friends during the week, and frankly, can completely
understand it from my days of travelling.

Given the big old time crunch, also, if presented with the opportunity
for an evening out I'd far rather go out with DH than socialize with
other couples. When I was a kid there was 'bowling night' and 'card
club night' -- (reminds me of 'bowling alone'), yet during the day
there was less interpersonal stuff. If you wanted to talk with someone
far away, you waited until after 11:00 p.m. -- now, I feel like we're
all interconnected, all the time, and I appreciate the opportunity to
disconnect. Again, my parents' friends lived in the same city as they
did, and given that most folks at that time had 1 car, there wasn't a
whole lot of socializing during the day -- in that context, I can see
why someone would want to get out.

Best wishes,

Those for whom babysitting rates are too expensive
find other ways to go out, like forming babysitting
co-ops or trading with friends. The only times we've
had trouble are those few nights that a whole lot of
people are going out sans kids (e.g., New Year's Eve).
Valentine's Day might be an issue too, but our church
youth group does a babysitting fundraiser the Saturday
nearest Valentine's Day (but even there we pay something
like $35 for the three kids for 6-10pm, though that's
less than we'd likely owe if we used a babysitter).
Personally, I prefer the babysitting co-op anyway.

I'm in complete agreement that the minimum wage is very very far from a
'living wage these days.

That's a completely different issue. The teens that we're talking
about don't have to live on their wages. If they were to sit for
$5/hour and make $20 one night, they'd have plenty of money the next
to go out to a movie, buy popcorn and a drink, and even stop by
McDonald's on the way home.

Perhaps allowances and standards for parental generosity have changed,
so it takes more money to significantly tempt a teen?

We mostly use babysitters who are teachers from my son's day care, so
we pay $10 an hour and provide dinner. They're pros so that seems
reasonable to me (in fact, I need to ask our regular sitter if that's
still enough). I've never had a teenage babysitter because I don't
know any teenagers, so I don't know what we'd pay them.

Sorry to follow up to myself, but I got to thinking about it, and I'm
pretty sure I was making something like $4-5 an hour back in the
eighties, so I'm actually kind of surprised the standard isn't more
than it is.

I babysat during the mid-to-late 70's. (Starting when I was 12 and
continuing until I graduated high school.) For the first few years I
made $1/hr. Later it increased to $2/hr. I never made more than that.

I couldn't imagine paying a teenage sitter $10 today! When I worked at
a preschool, I made $7.50/hr., and taxes came out of that. Most local
jobs that teens would be qualified for pay minimum wage, or slightly
over. I have a master's degree and dont' make more than $10 an hour
now! Fortunately we have an intown Grandma, so we never had to pay a

Ericka Kammerer...
Really?! Not here!

Movies, $7.50.
Popcorn and drink, $6.00
Money left for McDonalds, $6.50

Night out with your friends, priceless.

What are the prices like in your area?

Last time dh took dd1 to a matinee it cost almost $30 for the both of
them and they shared the popcorn!

Ericka Kammerer...
Movie tickets are $9.50-$12. Not sure on popcorn
and drink, but more than $6.

OMG -- no wonder people think kids need so much to baby-sit!

Then Jeff says NYC movie tickets are $10.50 -- I'm wondering where in
the heck you are that they are $12?

Best wishes,

Don't forget transportation

The last time I went to see a movie (Boston) it was $10.00/ticket. I
know here in the hinterlands it's $9.50. No idea on popcorn and drink.

Ruth Baltopoulos...
I live in the same area, and movies are still around $10.
Popcorn, candy and a soda will require a second mortgage on
your home. Seriously

While many teens will spend their money that way, some are also saving for
college. And you're getting a night out, why shouldn't they?

NYC prices: Movies: $10.50, popcorn and drink $8:00. Money left over for gum
on the way home: $1.50.

At our local theater, a teeny popcorn (4 1/2 mouthfuls) is
around $4.50, a small soda (3 sips) or bottled water is
$3.50ish, and the little bags of candy are also $3.00 or so.

While the prices in NYC are not that different, the sizes are reasonable
sizes for kids. The popcorn is maybe 1/2 a bag of microwave popcorn, the
soda is l2 oz and the bag of candy is maybe 3 oz. It is still very expensive
compared to getting the food in a regular store. In fact, the bag of candy
is really much more than a kid should get. For about $1 more, you can get a
combo with a 32 oz or bigger soda and large popcorn. So if an adults really
wants to eat and drink, he or she can. The cost of popcorn and soda is cheap
enough that the amount of profit of a small (soda | popcorn) and large soda
(soda | popcorn) is about the same.

Usually when I take my mentee to the movies, he gets a candy or popcorn, a
small soda and I get a small or medium soda. (The large soda comes with free
refills - but unless they give me a catheter, I will wet my pants on the
way home.)

Ruth Baltopoulos...
Hehehee. I am with you there! They do only charge a small
amount more incrementally as you move up in soda size, but
the large *is* quite awe inspiring.

I have heard that most of the profit that movie theaters make comes from
food sold, not the sales of the tickets.

Ruth Baltopoulos...
I don't find that the least bit hard to believe. My two
girls are 19 & 20, and when they go to the movies, they
carry large handbags and bring water bottles from home, as
well as packing a snack. When I mentioned the signs
indicating that this was verboten, they replied that certain
rules are only driven by profit and they felt quite
comfortable disdaining them.

I have to disagree here. It is their movie theater and their rules. If I
don't like the rules, I can get a DVD and play it for him on this computer.
I don't have much of a problem with tap water in bottles as I do with
snacks. I would also argue that snacks in theaters should be healthier, like
fruits and granola bars. I noticed that at sports stands at recreation
soccer leagues, too.

But it is the movie theater's rules. If they don't want you to drink
outside foods and drink (except maybe for tap water from home), you
shouldn't drink it in their theater. I almost always bring outside soda, but
if I want to drink in the theater, I drink their soda. (The other exception
is for people who need to eat particular foods for religious purposes, if no
appropriate food is available in the theater, or medical purposes, like
people who need a little bit of candy for hypoglycemia.)

But a move is, at the very very most!, about three and a half hours. Very few
people need to eat in that time. (And, yes, I have had problems with
hypoglycemia.) When you consider that generally even a 2 1/2 hour movie is
considered "long", then the whole "relgious" thing goes out the door.

I agree about the rules. To pay for the movie house goodies may be exhorbitant,
but it's not like it's an injustice that calls for civil disobedience. Good
grief. I just don't buy stuff at movies, even water. If I think thirst is an
issue, then I buy just the water.

Our movie theaters had water fountains. I admit I don't go to movies
much anymore at all, but don't they still have such things?

Yes (in Illinois, at least), but you have to actually leave the movie
in order to drink that water. ;)

Who hasn't been to a movie in over a year, and mainly goes to matinees
during work hours with dh to avoid paying for babysitters over and
above our normal daycare! And who very, very rarely buys anything to
eat or drink at the theater.

One reason why the rules are there is that people will bring in KFC and chomp on
smelly fried chicken if they *didn't* have the rule. Yes, there's the profit
motive too. But it's their business to have a business. But it's also for some
order and comfort in the theater.

Other rules that are only driven by profit in movie theaters:

1) You have to buy a ticket before going into the theater.
2) You can only see one movie.

What injustices ;-)

I don't have a problem with movie theaters making a profit. That is why
they are in business.


The other cost is the amount of calories taken in. If the kid eats 3 oz of
candy, that is like 300 cals. And a large popcorn is maybe 1000 cal.
Without oil (or butter).

Ruth Baltopoulos...
Good thing we all prefer candy...

This is a good point. There's this American idea that we have to have food
anytime we're sitting still in one place more than an hour. The consequences of
this is pretty evident.


Last movie we said, heck, let's get the big popcorn, large
soda and a candy -- I think it was $13 or $14.....

Best wishes,

I don't understand why teens, who are younger and less experienced,
and not all of whom are "Babysitter's Club" caliber, are making more
than most day care center workers.

So, because one set of workers (day care center workers) are taken advantage
of, it is ok to take advantage of other workers.

BTW, don't forget that teens have to pay for gas, insurance, etc., just to
get to your house.

I'm not trying to argue with you, because what you have to pay to get
a sitter in your area is what you have to pay. I'm just flabbergasted
that it's so much!

The minimum wage is $5.15, or more.


Best wishes,

I my babysitting co-op.

Best wishes,

as much quality time with their spouse to keep their marriage happy,
the teens lose because the babysitting jobs aren't there anymore, and
even the parents willing to pay lose, because with less sitters out
there, the chances of finding an experienced, available sitter when
you want one decreases.

membership fee, $12 each time you call a sitter to the agency, plus $8/hr
for the sitter and any tips. The agency keeps a record of who has worked
however many hours and reports it to the IRS, but the sitter is still
responsible for paying taxes and social security, so that $8/hr plus tips is
really quite a bit less.

The college placement service also requests $8/hr, but there are no other
fees-they provide a list of students willing to babysit, you contact the
students, interview, etc and then when you need someone, you're in the same
situation you are in with neighborhood teenagers.

IF there's a question of affording it, go less frequently, or form a coop with
other parents to trade babysitting nights. But other than that, if the
babysitting market is 10 an hour, that's what it is.

Exactly. If I need a plumber, I might call a few places and get a feel
for the going rate, and then I pay it. I don't complain, "Gosh, I think

Yes, I understand that complaining about the market rate doesn't
change it. But what you've said above is part of my point. The fact
that sitters are so expensive is part of the reason why we and other
parents we know don't use them. And the fact that so many parents
today don't use sitters may be part of the reason why so few teens
baby-sit anymore. (and yes I know that's a regional thing)


This wouldn't be so evident if the movie theater had bananas and apples,
granola bars and other healthy snacks.

Another reason not to buy movie theater food (but not another reason to eat
outside food in the theater).
But it's not a union job either! If a neighborhood teen wants to work for you
for less, then that's his or her going rate. No-one is going to picket their
house with signs saying "scab".

I think the reasons why kids aren't babysitting so much has more to do with them
having more extracurriculars, more academic demands, and more access to other
jobs. Girls, especially, now have more access to other jobs. (It always kinda
burned me that I babysat in the late '60s and early '70s while my male
classmates would be doing all kinds of stuff like working on road crews or
go-fer jobs with building crews, even travelling though western states
harvesting wheat, for much, much more. Even the lawn-mowing gigs brought in
more. I couldn't even dream of presenting myself for one of these jobs!)
Girls' sports is also a bigger thing. At 16, especially, they get mobile and
don't even need work permits anymore. Those are the big changes - I dont' think
they priced themsevles out of the market.

$30 an hour would be GENEROUS". I'm not the lady of the manor here,
bestowing jobs like I'm doing somebody a favor.

That may be true, but we haven't been talking about what it takes to
get "top baby-sitting talent." People have been talking about the
going rate for anyone. And as I said in an earlier post, not all
teens are "Babysitter Club" quality.

So it's more analogous to saying that all companies should offer all
these benefits to all their employees because no one should be
expected to have to work without them.

The situation I see described in this thread is almost like a prima
donna. "She won't work unless she has lilac blossoms in her suite,
and a supply of fresh fruit at all times, and the masseuse should be
there at promptly 11am." I think that very few of these teens will
find employers scrambling to meet their every desire. For those that
do, well, more power to them.

Well, I'm lucky enough to be married to a man handy enough that we've
never had to hire a plumber or an appliance repairman or a painter or
such, but if I did call to have someone fix the washing machine and
they said, "It'll be $75 to come out, then $40/hour plus parts with a
$150 minimum" (all prices made up), then heck, yeah I'd complain about
it! Maybe not to *them,* but I'd definitely complain.

Good thing your husband is handy, then - those prices don't sound out of
line to me.



Personally, if people around me were crunching on apples and granola
bars while I was trying to watch a movie, I doubt any jury would disagree
with me that the results were justifiable homicide. ;-)

- Rich

You'd have an accomplice in me :)

I even hate those crackly wrappers.
There's quite an interesting set of attitudes out there about that sort of
thing. I had remodelling done recently, and one of my aquaintances told me I
was "putting my contractor's kids though college" and he meant it like it was a
bad thing.

Heck, even without the cost of labor, DH will complain about the cost
of the parts. "Can you belive that just to replace the whatzit, I had
to get a whole new doohickey? And can you believe how much a piece of
plastic cost?!"


And that whole
Well, that's called a "vent". But does he then refuse to buy?

Before my niece went off to college, she was an in-high-demand
baybsitter. For 3 children, she'd charge $12 an hour, and she had more
offers of work than she could handle. She had absolutely zero

He would if he had a choice. And there is almost always a choice when
it comes to whether or not to get a sitter.

incentive to work for $5 an hour. If people didn't want to pay her
rate, they could look for somebody else (good luck!) or they could stay
home. It's called the market.

It's my opinion, right or wrong, that the market prices have been
driven up less by the needs or demands of the teens, and more by yuppy
parents who mistakenly think in their own minds that the quality of
service they get corresponds to the amount they pay, and therefore by
paying more, they increase the quality of service.

Ericka Kammerer...
I don't think that's at all the case around here.
Teens won't work for dirt cheap wages because they have
expenses to deal with (like saving for college), very little
free time (so the opportunity cost of sitting his high), and
they have other options that pay more. So, if you want a
sitter, you'll have to pay what it takes to entice them to
work for you because they have other options.

BUT, if they are over-scheduled already, how could they take one of
these other higher-paying jobs? (And what are they? I'd like to

I didn't say they shouldn't. But if they want that night out and to
save for college, then perhaps they need to work more than 4

I don't see paying sitters minimum wage as taking advantage of them.
The whole point of teen sitting is to create a win-win situation.
Kids who are too young, or who don't have the time to hold a regular
job can make a bit of money on the side to pay for the "extras" their
parents won't pay for. Adults who want to be able to get away from
time to time can do it without breaking the bank.

Oh, you forgot something. Teens might also learn some responsibility,
budgetting and other skills and values doing this. They might even get to

I'm not sure what your point with this statement is. I agree that if
teen sitting goes by the wayside, a valuable opportunity for those
teens is lost. That was the point of my newspaper route story
actually. But I think that these sky high rates contribute to the
decline of baby-sitting opportunities for teens. Where does Yuck!
come in?

Here, even at $15/hour I'm competing against (a) boys (dang it!), (b)
AP classes, and (c) generic school obligations meet unruly small
children gestalt.

I know that the good ones here are usually too busy to babysit between
sports and other school activities. Once they get a license, forget it.

like kids. Yuck!

The Yuck! was sarcasm. I think it is great that teens learn to like kids
(assuming they don't have younger siblings, or maybe if they do).

The rest was self-explanatory, I think.


If the sitting prices go sky high, then two things happen -- first is
that the adults go out less often, meaning that there are less sitting
jobs to go around. This isn't good for anyone. Second, professional
sitting services end up taking over. After all, if I'm going to pay
adult wages, I expect....well, an adult.

I have to say I resent the suggestion that teens' work is less valuable that
adult work. I don't mean that this is not the case most of the time. You can
have a teen who is much better with kids than adults are. So their skills
and talent is more valuable than some adults.

A better statement would be, "After all, if I'm going to pay *professional*
wages, I expect...well, a professional." In most cases, that would be an
adult. But in many cases, that would be a mature teen. Just because one is a
teen, that doesn't mean his work is less valuable.

Kids can often do things better than adults, particularly when it comes to
computers and other technology. Plus, they help marketers sell stuff to
teens and kids better than some expert marketers.

Yes, some teens will be better at some things than some adults. On
the whole though, people gain maturity, confidence, and skills as they
age. Very few "peak" in their teen years and then go downhill from

I realize this is totally OT, but it does seem to be the case with
mathematicians. Interesting, isn''t it?

I once hired a girl to pet-sit. I asked her price and she said,
"Whatever." I offered $5 per day -- she lives just a few houses down,
and this would take less than 15 minutes of her day, so I thought that
more than reasonable. I called her back a few days before we were to
leave to arrange to get her the key, and she arranged to come get it
the day before we were to leave. When she showed up that day, her mom
came with her, and her mom said that she'd called around to find out
what pet-sitters charge, and that if we wanted her daughter to do it,
we'd have to pay her $10/day. I replied that she's a kid, not a
professional, and if I'd wanted to pay a professional rate, I would
have hired a professional to do it. Her mom responded, "She's very
responsible and will do as good a job as a professional." But when I
pointed out how unprofessional it was to accept the job weeks in
advance, and then wait until the day before we were leaving to try to
double the rate, her mom said, "Well, what do you expect? She's a

Donna Metler...
FWIW, a professional petsitting service here charges $30/visit (which is an
hour of time) to care for pets, water plants, bring in mail, etc. I WISH I
could find someone to do it for $10/day!

I'm in the wrong field ....

If you find a sitter that is exceptional, by all means, pay them what
they're worth. But I still think that such high "base rates" for

lol -- I don't know any mathematicians, so I don't know!

baby-sitting is bad for all concerned.

Weeell, I do believe that such high base rates reflect the location of
the sitter....Here, I can't imagine a professional pet sitter being
less than $20/day (we have >2 pets, probably 250lbs. of pets). The high
base rates correspond to what the market would pay, imo.

The increase in babysitting rates hasn't caused dimunition in sitter
demand (at least here), and frankly, I think there's nothing wrong with
such high rates given that the cheesy $3/hour job I had during HS is no

Most pet sitters here charge by the visit, so for a dog, where you'd
have 2 visits/day, it would be $20. Pet-sitters are also going to
drive to your house from what might be 20 minutes or more each way,
significantly adding to the time it takes them to care for your pet
(at least here -- we're kind of in the boonies).

But the actual prices involved weren't the point of that story. The
point was that the mom was trying to pass her daughter off as a
professional for purposes of pay, and a kid for purposes of

Speaking of responsibility, I had a sitter lined up for one week in
the summer. It was about 30 hours spread over the week. I told her
that I could work around her schedule if need be, she was *thrilled*
with the job, and *thrilled* with the prospect of so much money. I
had talked to her a couple of times to arrange things. Sunday night I
called to arrange to pick her up in the morning. She wasn't home, so
I left a message. When I got the call back, it was from her younger
sister. I said, "I arranged for your *sister* to come." She said,
"Well, she's not home, I'll have her call you later." When I finally
got the call that night, she said, "I thought you said it was next
week. I can't do it this week because my boyfriend is having oral
surgery." !!! I said, "I have to work in the morning! You can't
just bail on me like this!!!" She said, "Sorry."

I think perhaps you can begin to see why I don't consider teens to be

Granted that this may happen more often with teens (and I do agree that an adult
can understandably have a higher wage), when my son was a baby I had to be away
nights on two occasions. I hired adult babysitters from any agency. I wasn't
happy with either. One most definately broke my rules - I specified no other
people to visit, she agree. When I came home a bit early, her parents were
there! She said she couldn't possibly imagine I had meant her own family.
(Well, yes, I *do* - her family hasn't been screened by the agency; her family
is a distraction from the job.)

With teens, at the least it can be a learning experience.

longer available, and that the cost of many private colleges is far,
far beyond the (at that time outrageous) 18k/year I initially paid.

At the same time I'm thinking, "paying to ride the *school bus*?" and
believing that I've landed on an alternate planet -- so whereas the
rates have increased, strange (unforseeable?) costs have also increased
for today's teens, at least here/


When I was a kid, I had a paper route. I think back on the fact that
I made about $60/month and can't believe how many hours and how much
effort I put into making it. But I don't regret the job at all, as it
taught me a lot, and that $60 seemed like a lot of money at the time.
Nowadays most papers won't hire kids at all, and the papers are all
delivered by adults in cars. So, great -- the carriers are all being
paid a decent wage (or not), but it's yet another job that kids are
shut out of.

I've always picked them up and taken them back home again.

apply for one myself! Seriously!) And in most suburban or rural
areas, other jobs are far enough away that you have to drive, which
means you have to be at least 16 or 16.5 to take them.

I still think the exorbitant prices are driven by adults, not the
teens themselves.

Let's make a deal -- if you can get the parents to start paying the
plumber less, I'll work on getting parents to start offering less to

I'm not buying it -- here, where sometimes I feel like I'm living in
Frugality Central, I don't believe that people are connecting the cost
of a service with the quality. Truly. I think this is what the market
will bear, given a reluctance on the part of several teens to enter the
market, and although I think the cost is steep, there aren't World of
Alternatives (or at least, not on a school night).

Best wishes,

Oh phooey. If they found what they wanted for a lower price, they'd pay it.

least college-age. For $5 an hour, I'd be lucky if a homeless wino off
the street would take the job.

Anne Rogers...
I think it's also what you would expect them to do in an emergency, with an
adult/professional, you'd expect them to deal with most things and only
contact you if it really was dire, with a teenager, you'd probably have to
be prepared for them to contact you if one child came down with a new
sickness, I know as an adult babysitting an under 1, I was on the verge of

You would think.

contacting the parents when the baby became sick and started running a
fever, and that was not much more than a year before I had my own kid, I was
pretty darn sure it wasn't meningitis, but had I been any younger would I
even have been sure of that? worse, would I have thought to check?

That sort of thing is a reason why I was more comfortable hiring adult
babysitters though an agency when I needed to be away overnight.

I liked to have neighborhood sitters for evenings, though.