Yes, parenting is beautiful and growth-inspiring and all those lovely things, but it’s also exhausting. So if you can get a night or two away to recharge and remember who you once were, do it. Of course, for many, in order to get a 24-hour-plus break, you need to hire an overnight sitter — and you need to figure out what’s fair in terms of overnight babysitting rates.
While it may be tempting to consider your sitter “off the clock” when they’re sleeping, don’t. They’re still working, even if they’re not playing tag or warming up chicken nuggets.
“Whether it’s day or nighttime, babysitters still have responsibilities when they’re with the children,” says Sam Zariwala, owner of Little Einsteins Babysitting and Nanny Services in Saskatchewan, Canada. “A sitter who’s working with a family overnight still needs to be attentive and responsible when the kids are sleeping, and especially if they wake up at night.”
Wondering how much to pay an overnight babysitter? Here, experts and parents break it down.
Should you pay an overnight sitter hourly?
Technically speaking, a babysitter should be paid for every hour they’re working — which includes sleeping hours. (Will the “sleeping hours” be as hands-on as midday? No, but if a child wakes up or a situation arises, the sitter is responsible.)
- Pay the typical hourly rate.
- Determine a flat rate that’s fair when broken down by the hour.
“Parents should pay their babysitter for every hour that they’ve worked,” explains LaRowe. “And if the parents have a set amount for the engagement in mind, they can work backwards to calculate what that hourly rate would be and determine if it is a fair rate.”
That’s the experience Krysten Barone, a veteran babysitter in Clinton, New Jersey, typically has had when working with families overnight. “One of my regular families pays $20 an hour for watching their 2- and 6-year-olds during the day,” she explains. “But when I sit for them overnight, they bump it up to $25 an hour, without paying for sleeping time. In the end, it comes out to about the same.”
If you’re not sure what’s going to fly with your sitter, just ask!
“Before leaving our daughter with our sitter for the night, we asked her what she thought was fair,” says Kim Goodall, a mom of two in South Orange, New Jersey. “It ended up being a few hundred dollars for the night, which wound up being higher than her usual hourly rate. Since our daughter was still waking up for feedings at the time, it seemed right.”
What should you pay a babysitter for a full weekend?
According to Zariwala, families should consider paying sitters anywhere from their typical rate to “$1 more per hour” for a full weekend. Also, she says to keep the following extra expenses in mind:
- Activities, like admission to the zoo or movie theater.
- Mileage, to and from any activities, including soccer practice as well as just-for-fun outings.
- Groceries, including any snacks or fixings for meals.
For families with older (read: easier in many cases) kids, LaRowe notes that a flat rate for a weekend may be acceptable — but it’s important to hash the details out beforehand.
“If a babysitter is responsible for the children during a weekend, and the children still wake during the night, the babysitter should be paid for every hour, from the time they arrive until they depart,” LaRowe says. “If the children are older and do not typically wake up, some babysitters will agree to a flat fee or a reduced fee that starts from the time the children fall asleep until the time they wake up. Either way, it is important to agree to all hourly rates prior to hiring the babysitter.”
What factors can affect an overnight babysitting rate?
When determining a fair hourly fee for overnight babysitting, consider the following, which may affect the rate:
The age of the children. “With very young children, such as newborns, overnight work can sometimes cost more,” says Zariwala. “In addition to being the only adult in the home, a sitter will be changing diapers, feeding and rocking the baby to sleep.”
The number of children. According to both Zariwala and LaRowe, the more kids a sitter is responsible for, the higher their rate should be. Ultimately, an hourly rate is something that’s decided between you and the sitter, but when trying to calculate a babysitter rate, many parents tack on an additional dollar per hour per child.
The sitter’s experience. “Generally speaking, the more experience a babysitter has, the higher wage rate they may request,” LaRowe says.
Your location. Where you live will also help you to determine what to pay. For an idea of what a sitter in your area may cost, check out our babysitting rates calculator.