Need a Babysitter for the Holidays? Expect to Pay More Than Usual

Need a sitter for New Year’s Eve? Looking for an experienced professional to watch the kids so you and your spouse can attend a party on Christmas Eve? Want an extra pair of hands to help out on Christmas Day, or during this year’s long holiday weekend?

You’re not alone. But be warned – you should expect to pay more.

Babysitters and nannies, like many other service professionals, expect to be paid a little more when they work during the holidays. Chances are, they have to give up plans with family or friends to provide your family with childcare. Even if they’re not celebrating with family or friends, providing childcare means sacrificing what would otherwise be “down time” for themselves.

So after you line up sitters to provide childcare during the holidays, how do you determine what to pay them? Some say 1.5 times your sitter’s normal rate, while others say 2 times their normal rate. And others decide to simply pay a flat bonus on top of the sitter’s regular rate. As you determine what to pay your sitter this holiday season, here are a few factors to consider.

1. Time. You should consider not only the length of time, but also the time of the day you’re asking your sitter to provide childcare. It’s one thing to ask your sitter to come over for a few hours on the afternoon of Christmas Eve so you can finish some last-minute shopping. It’s an entirely different thing to ask her to come over for six or seven hours on the evening of Christmas Eve, when she could otherwise be with family or friends. You should also consider how much of the time she’s at your house will be essentially inactive, after the kids are in bed.

2. Age. Let’s face it: sitters in junior high don’t seem to have as busy of a social calendar as sitters in high school or college. However, they also don’t have as much experience. So depending on several factors, including the age of your kids, you might prefer someone a little older. If that’s the case, you should plan to pay a little more, mostly because older sitters will likely bring more experience to the job.

3. When you requested the care. It’s a good idea to request sitters for the holidays yesterday (or at least a month or two in advance). If such advance notice isn’t possible, and you find yourself frantically calling every sitter on your contact list the weekend before the sitting event, plan to pay a little more. This will show your sitter appreciation for helping out during the time of year that is busy for everyone.

4. Number of children. The more children you have to care for, the more work it is for the sitter. You should also consider the age of your children. A sitter who is asked to care for three children who need help eating, getting dressed and brushing their teeth should be paid more than a sitter who is essentially keeping a 10-year-old company. During the holidays, many of us have extra kids, such as family, friends or cousins, at our house. Most experts agree that an extra $1 to $2 per hour should be added to your sitter’s regular rate for each extra child.

Besides cash, parents can make lots of other gestures to show appreciation for their sitter or nanny for working during the holidays. If she’ll be in charge during the dinnertime hour, offer to pick up her favorite take-out. Or if she’s staying extra late, offer to let her sleep on your couch, and get paid an overnight fee. That way she won’t have to drive home in the wee hours of the morning, and you and your spouse won’t have to worry about getting home at a specific time.

Whatever your plans may be, we at SeekingSitters wish you the happiest, healthiest and safest season and New Year! Happy Holidays!

This blog was originally published Dec. 21 on, the Omaha World-Herald’s online community for moms, dads and families.

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