You want to go away for the weekend. Or maybe you have to. But there’s one small dilemma: Your kids. Even for families who have help in the form of relatives close by, figuring out a schedule for weekend babysitting is a game of human tetris, with every piece needing to fit just so. And when you’re using a nanny or sitter, it can get even trickier since there’s the added task of figuring out a fair rate for a weekend nanny or weekend babysitter.
“When you are thinking about the rate for a weekend sitter, you must think about the amount of responsibility and your expectations,” says Sue Downey, a professional nanny of over 20 years and the founder of Nannypalooza. “Are your kids older and you just need someone to be there in case there is a need? Or do you have younger children who need to be constantly attended to?” This, among other factors according to Downey, will help you set a fair rate.
Not sure what to pay a babysitter or nanny for a weekend of child care (or what to expect)? Here’s what the experts have to say.
What’s expected from a weekend sitter?
Does your usual sitter pick up around the house and throw in the odd load of laundry here and there? Don’t expect that on the weekend. “On the weekends, a sitter is expected to generally give custodial care,” Downey says. “This means that the kids are kept safe and engaged and that the general schedule and rules of the home are followed.”
They’re there to meet the “immediate needs of the children during their window of responsibility,” adds Michelle LaRowe, lead educator at NannyTraining.com and author of “Nanny to the Rescue!” This generally includes the following:
- Feeding the kids.
- Engaging children through activities and play.
- Bathing children.
- Putting kids to bed.
“Care is focused on the here and now and ensuring the children are safe in the absence of their parents,” notes LaRowe.
That said, what you expect for a weekend is up to you and should be discussed with your sitter prior. “I’ve done weekend babysitting twice,” says Emily Marinucci, a veteran babysitter and college student from Cranford, New Jersey. “The first time I was taking kids to practices, games and playdates, as well as buying food and doing a few chores. The second time, there was no running around, just watching the kids.”
Is there a difference between hiring a weekend nanny vs. a weekend sitter?
Just as there are differences between babysitters and nannies during regular working hours, the same holds true for the weekends. “A babysitter has less responsibility, experience and expertise,” Downey explains. “During the course of a typical day, nannies approach things with more intention. In addition to doing the things a sitter does, they’re planning activities that encourage development and interacting in a deeper and more meaningful way. Nannies are also more responsible with certain agreed-upon jobs, such as laundry and cleaning up.”
So, are weekend nanny rates different from weekend babysitter rates?
Typically, yes. “Babysitter rates will be less generally than a nanny rate,” Downey says, adding that the exception might be if there is a supply and demand issue. “For instance, hard-to-get special dates like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day may mean that sitter rates are at a premium.”
That said, if you have a nanny, you should propose weekend work to them before anyone else — and you may be expected to pay a higher-than-normal rate. “Typically nannies ask to have the first right of refusal when it comes to working additional weekend hours,” LaRowe points out. “This is because if the nanny works more than 40 hours in a seven-day period, she is entitled to overtime. Each state has their own rules on when overtime kicks in and if it’s equally applicable for live-in and live-out nannies, so you will want to confirm what rules apply to you in your state.”
Are there tax implications if a full-time nanny works a weekend?
“If a nanny is already working full time for a family and picks up additional hours on the weekend with that family, those hours are included in her pay period,” LaRowe says. “While many assume babysitting on the weekend isn’t part of the nanny’s typical job so it can be paid separately, that simply isn’t the case.”
Not sure about nanny tax procedures? Check out our nanny tax guide.
How much do you pay a babysitter or nanny for a weekend?
Ultimately, what you pay your sitter or nanny for weekend work is something the two of you will agree on beforehand. Since it isn’t “standard,” each situation will look different; however, technically speaking, nannies should be paid by the hour. “By law, a nanny must be paid for every hour worked,” Downey says.
The weekend schedule may also influence how you decide to pay your sitter (and how they want to be paid). Both times Marinucci weekend sat, she was paid differently. “With one family, I was paid hourly for the entire weekend — even while I was sleeping, as the weekend was relatively busy,” she says. “Another family paid me a flat rate, which I agreed to, since the weekend mostly consisted of hanging out with the kids.”
Regardless of how you pay your sitter or nanny, make sure their hourly rate, at the very least, is minimum wage. “Household employees and other domestic workers, whether casual babysitters or full-time nannies, are entitled to be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked,” LaRowe says. “That said, just because minimum wage is the requirement, doesn’t mean you’ll find a sitter willing to accept it.”
If you don’t have a regular nanny or sitter, LaRowe recommends doing the following to get a better idea of rates:
- Check with other parents in your community.
- View job advertisements online.
- Ask caregivers their hourly rate upfront.
Interactive tool: Babysitting and nanny rates calculator
How should you calculate “sleeping hours”?
According to both Downey and LaRowe, a nanny or sitter’s “sleeping rate” should be their standard hourly rate. While the time may not be as labor-intensive necessarily, they’re still on the clock.
“If there’s an emergency in the home, it’s the caregiver’s responsibility to respond. For this reason, many sitters will not agree to being paid less for sleeping hours,” LaRowe explains. “However, if the nanny is working more than 24 hours and will get more than eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in an adequate sleep space [i.e., you have older kids who sleep through the night], you may not legally have to pay for those hours.”
However, she adds, most nannies and sitters won’t agree to spending time at your home while responsible for the children without being compensated.
What else should you consider when setting a weekend rate?
Just as many factors influence your nanny or sitter’s normal pay rate, the same goes for weekend work. The following may be cause for a higher weekend rate, according to both LaRowe and Downey:
- Number of children.
- Ages of children.
- Years of experience.
- The date (if it’s a popular weekend, the rate should be higher).
- Duties expected.
Not sure where to begin? Check out our babysitting rates calculator.
“We’ve used our sitter for the weekend a few times,” says mom of two Liz Branson of Great Neck, New York. “When we had one child [who was 2 1/2 at the time], we paid her $300 for the entire weekend. When she watched both of our kids, and there were games and shuffling around, we paid more.”
Whatever you decide for a rate, make sure your nanny or sitter is comfortable with it beforehand. Hiring someone for the weekend can get pricey, but it’s not an area in which you want to cut corners. “You’re entrusting someone with your children for the weekend,” Downey says. “That’s a big deal!”