If you’ve been babysitting for a family for a long time, there’s a good chance they’ve asked, or will ask, about watching the kids overnight. While the opportunity for movie marathons and bedtime snuggles may seem like a no-brainer for you, there is an accompanying elephant in the room: How much to charge for overnight babysitting?
Even though you’re likely to get some downtime after the kids go to bed — not to mention, time to sleep yourself — Michelle LaRowe, lead educator at NannyTraining.com and author of “Nanny to the Rescue!,” says you should still be paid every hour. “Babysitters should be paid the agreed-upon rate for any hours you are responsible for the children in their care,” she explains. “It’s important to remember that even when the children are sleeping, you are responsible for their safety and care.”
Wondering how to set an overnight babysitting rate? Experts and veteran sitters weigh in.
Should I charge hourly for overnight sitting?
When determining how much to charge for an overnight babysitting job, you should figure out an hourly pay rate, which yes, should include the time you spend sleeping. If you’re offered a lump sum, LaRowe recommends dusting off your grade school division skills to figure out what you’re getting paid per hour.
“Parents should pay a babysitter an agreed-upon hourly rate for every hour the sitter is responsible for the children,” LaRowe says. “If they have a set amount in mind, work backwards to calculate your hourly rate.”
And if getting paid while you’re technically asleep feels weird, think about it this way: Regardless of the hour, you’re still on the clock. “If a child wakes up in the middle of the night, you are the only one there and you’re responsible,” says Sam Zariwala, owner of Little Einsteins Babysitting and Nanny Services in Saskatchewan, Canada, who adds that, when watching babies who still wake up throughout the night, sitters should be paid a premium.
“When we left our daughter for the night with our sitter, we worked with her to determine a rate,” says mom of one Liz Harris of New Canaan, Connecticut. “When broken down, it was more than her normal hourly rate,” she explains, “but considering the added responsibilities of dinner, bathtime and bedtime, it seemed fair.”
What should I charge for a full weekend?
Zariwala notes that, when setting your rate for a full weekend, you should charge either your normal hourly rate or “$1 more per hour.” She also notes keeping the following in mind for reimbursements:
- Activities, like if you pay for admission to a museum or movie tickets.
- Mileage, to and from any activities, whether you’re driving kids to their Saturday morning soccer practice or their favorite park with the cool slide across town.
- Groceries, including any snacks or a frozen pizza.
If a family wants to set a flat rate for the whole weekend, again, LaRowe advises making sure it’s fair when broken down by the hour, especially if the kids are on the younger side. “Babysitters should be paid for every hour from the time they arrive until the time they leave, especially if the children are young and still wake up during the night,” she says. “For families with older kids who generally don’t wake up, sitters can agree to a flat overnight fee or a reduced rate for the hours the kids are sleeping.”
Krysten Barone, a veteran babysitter in Clinton, New Jersey, has always agreed on a flat rate before babysitting overnight or for the weekend. “I’ve always been paid a flat rate that wound up being lower than my normal hourly rate overall,” Barone says of the family she overnight sits for, who have a 2- and 6-year-old. “But when broken down, I’m paid more for the hours I work, without getting paid when the kids are sleeping.”
Regardless of how you determine a fair rate, LaRowe advises deciding on it prior to taking on the job to avoid a discrepancy. “I work with a number of families, and they all pay differently when it comes to overnight sitting rates,” says Kayla McAfee, a veteran babysitter in Middle Village, New York. “No matter what, though, I always make sure we agree on something fair beforehand, so there aren’t any surprises when I get paid.”
What factors to consider when setting your overnight babysitting rate
When figuring out what to charge for your overnight rate, consider these factors, which can affect your fee:
- Number of children. “Generally speaking, the more children a babysitter is responsible for, the higher the hourly rate will be,” says LaRowe. While a number of factors go into setting your typical babysitting rate, many sitters tack on an extra dollar per child.
Interactive tool: Babysitting rates calculator
- Experience. The more experience you have as a babysitter, the higher wage you can command, according to LaRowe.
- Ages of the children. According to Zariwala, the younger the kids are, the more you can request (as it’s more likely the kids will be up at night). “The newborns and infants our nannies and sitters watch generally wake up at least twice a night, with the preschoolers waking up about once,” Zariwala says, adding that, with the former, there are a number of duties involved, including diapering, feeding and rocking to sleep.
- Location. Where you live will also help you to determine what to pay. For an idea of what sitters in your area (or, if different, the area where the family lives) are charging, check out our babysitting rates calculator.