Babysitting is a fee many parents will be faced with, but how high is too high? Are nannies, childcare facilities, and babysitters charging too much these days? To answer that question, I looked into my own personal experience, not only as a mother, but as an experienced nanny. Here are the conclusions I came to and why. Some may agree and some may not.
Children are a parent's responsibility - However, sometimes parents have other responsibilities that must be taken care of, such as employment, that do not allow for our children to be in our presence. Sometimes parents just want to have fun without the kids. Whatever the case may be, responsibility of the children needs to be delegated to someone else (the nanny, babysitter, or childcare or daycare facility) for a period of time that a parent will not be present.
You get what you pay for - A parent knows how hard it is to care for children, so why should we expect someone to want to care for our children in the proper manner, without compensating that person to do so? Good childcare often comes with a price. Ever heard the old saying "You get what you pay for"? It applies very well to the service you should expect from your babysitter or nanny. babysitting fees might be high, compared to what you’d like to pay. But there’s generally a reason for that.
But that nanny is cheaper! - If you hire two nannies to watch four kids on two separate days for the same number of hours and pay one of them two dollars per hour and the other eleven dollars per hour, which one do you think is going to work the hardest and want to come back? Of course, it would most likely be the one who got paid eleven dollars per hour. This is not always going to be the case, as some people will be a good nurturer and hard worker regardless. But it is definitely something to consider. Someone who is only being paid two dollars per hour to watch four children might watch the children well, but do you think that person will want to go the extra mile? Probably not. They might even just plop the children in front of Disney Channel the entire time because the money is not worth the effort of organizing activities, cleaning up messes, and doing other things.
You asked for this, the care provider is doing a difficult job - Aside from that, remember that caring for children is hard work. Any parent knows that. We may act like it's easy in front of family and friends, but in all reality, it is the hardest job in the world. You have to constantly make sure everything is clean and neat, while at the same time making sure that everyone is fed, changed (or uses the potty), and happy. You have to find time to play with, and possibly teach, the children while still keeping things in order and tending to the occasional bump, fall, pants wetting, tantrum, or more. While it is fun and rewarding, it is still hard. This aspect should not be forgotten, in regards to paying your sitter.
Your children deserve quality over risky business - Furthermore, these are your children. They deserve quality care, which is sometimes not given when the pay is too low. Children are not capable of caring for themselves, thus the reason for the nanny. Most parents care deeply for their children, so why would a parent put their child's life at risk just to save a buck? Yes, I said their life, because if a sitter is charging a lower rate, that sitter may not have any first aid training, which is vital when caring for children.
Rates will vary depending on the area you live in, so use your best judgment to decide what's fair. Just remember not to short your nanny because she might just fall short on caring for your children properly.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network