The year is almost over and you're ready to celebrate with your partner and friends. But ...what to do with the kids?
You've brought them to parties in the past, but then spent most of your time keeping an eye on them. You've stayed home with them for a quiet celebration -- which is fun -- but this year you want to do something a bit more exciting. And you deserve a night out. So pick up a noise maker and a champagne glass and get ready: this year you're hiring a babysitter!
Finding a sitter for New Year's Eve is not always a simple task. Check out the infographic below for tips and trends to help. Then head to the bottom of the page for answers to common questions about hiring a sitter on New Year's Eve.
When Should I Book a Sitter?
The short answer: now.
Whenever you're reading this article, that answer holds. You're not crazy if you start looking as early as September or October. The first job opening for a sitter for this New Year's Eve was listed on Care.com on August 19th! (A family in McKinney, Texas really wanted to make sure they got a sitter.)
Finding the right sitter for your children can be tough on a regular day, but New Year's Eve is the biggest party night of the year. If your regular sitter is old enough, she'll likely have plans well ahead of time, too. Start looking for sitters at least a few months ahead of time.
Most people wait until mid- to late-December, which can leave you scrambling. In fact, last year 55 percent of the New Year's Eve jobs on Care.com were posted less than a week before the holiday. Once you've decided to spend the night out, start looking for a reliable caregiver. You want to book someone as early as possible.
Where Should I Look for a Sitter?
Start with the people around you. If you have a regular nanny or babysitter, ask her if she'd be willing to give up her New Year's Eve. If she already has plans, ask a family member or friend. Spread the word through your and your partner's networks that you're looking for someone. Perhaps your sister, cousin or book club buddy is staying home with her own kids and can host a slumber party. Offer to reciprocate and take the entire crew next year as a thank you.
Or post a job on Care.com. Specify that you're looking for a New Year's Eve sitter in the job title. Mention what time you want a sitter to arrive and what time you should be home (most people hire a NYE sitter from 7pm to 1am). Think about hiring someone to stay overnight and watch the kids until morning.
Just like you do before hiring any sitter, check references and carefully interview candidates in person.
What Can I Expect from a Sitter? What Should My Sitter Expect from Me?
If you need a caregiver for the entire night, communicate this outright. If you're going out for dinner and dancing and don't expect to be back until the wee hours of the morning, be sure your sitter is comfortable in the house, with a space to sleep and adequate instructions about how to handle any situation. Ordering a special dinner for the kids and sitter is a nice treat.
How Much Should I Pay My Sitter?
Use Care.com's Babysitter Pay Calculator to get you started. New Year's Eve babysitters, as a general rule, get paid time and half or even double their normal rate. Expect to pay between $17 and $23 per hour.
The exact amount depends on where you live, how many kids she'll be caring for, what you're asking her to do and how long you'll be gone. If your sitter is staying the night, expect to pay one set fee instead of an hourly rate. Determine how much you can afford (take into account how expensive your night out will be, as well), and ask your sitter what she would accept for the night.
- Should I Have a Backup?
It's always good to have a backup for those just-in-case situations. If your sitter suddenly gets the flu (or gets invited to a last-minute, once-in-a-lifetime party), you can rely on someone else -- either family or another sitter. If you know someone who will be home that night, ask them if they'd be willing to take the kids if your original plans fall through.
Is it Too Late to Find a New Year's Eve Sitter?
If it's December 30th and you haven't been able to find a sitter, don't worry. Call your list of usual babysitters again or post a last minute job on Care.com to see if anyone is available. People's plans do change and you may luck out. (Just make sure you screen a new sitter carefully.) If that doesn't work, you just have to get creative.
Some people celebrate New Year's Eve the night before. You can get together with friends, go out for dinner and avoid the madness of the actual holiday. Many babysitters will probably be free that night, so finding someone to look after your kids shouldn't be a problem. Then spend the big night tucked away at home with your family.
Did your friends score a sitter? Ask them if they (and their sitter) would be willing to do a babysitter share. Bring all of the kids to one house, stock up on snacks and movies and split the cost of the caregiver's salary (since she'll be watching more kids, you'll need to increase her pay).
Or just make plans to have a fun night at home. Make it special by dressing up in fancy clothes or by having everyone wear their new holiday PJs. Read more great ideas for making the night extra special and for Getting a New Year's Eve Sitter
So start looking for a babysitter today and you'll be in good shape by the time New Year's Eve comes along. The advance planning will allow you to enjoy a much-deserved night out, knowing your children are happy and safe with your sitter.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter @tiffanyiswrite.