Whether you’re working late, going out for a date night with your significant other, or just need a night off from your kids, there’ll come a time when you need someone to look after your kids. Enlisting the help of a babysitter is something plenty of parents do, with 58 percent of the parents surveyed in UrbanSitter’s 2019 Babysitting Rates & Childcare Costs Study saying that they hire a sitter at least once a month or more. And just because babysitting services might be a normal expense for many parents, it doesn’t mean that it comes cheap.
According to UrbanSitter, the average babysitting rate in 2019 in the U.S. is $16.75 for one child, and $19.26 for two. The two most common reasons why parents get a babysitter is to have some adult time away from their kids (40 percent of respondents) and to reconnect with their partner (also 40 percent of respondents). If we say that a typical date night goes for around four hours, that could cost a parent $65 for a single date night, and even more if you have more kids that need looking after.
And this $65 doesn’t even count any of the perks or additional money that a parent might throw in. Maybe you tip your babysitter an extra $10, or maybe you provide them with food delivery or on-demand movies which could set you back another $20 or so.
When you start to add on the money spent for the actual date, costs start to shoot up even higher. For example, let’s say you’re going out for dinner and movie with your partner. You’ll need to buy dinner for two which could cost around $50-$60 total, and then two movie tickets which would cost $9.11 each on average in 2018. If you add up the cost of babysitting services, dinner, and a movie, you might be looking a price tag of around $130 or more for a single night out. That may be steep enough to make you think twice before going on a well-earned date.
As we can see, babysitting services aren’t cheap and if you’re living on a tight budget, you might decide to completely skip date nights or forgo any time you’ve set aside to be alone. While it might feel like these are small and necessary things to skip to keep the family budget intact, they may be more important than you think.
A study done by the Marriage Foundation in 2016 found that married couples who went out every month were significantly less likely to split up. And aside from date nights, it’s good to get a little “me time” every now and then. But this might not be as easy as you’d think. According to a 2018 survey, parents will on average only be able to find 32 minutes of time to themselves every day.
So, whether you’re looking to get away for a cheap date night with your partner or just want a little more time to yourself every once and while, a sitter may be able to help open up your schedule.
You never want to put your kids in harm’s way, so paying for a babysitter you trust is worth the cost. Having said that, if you’re a parent who’s living paycheck to paycheck and money is tight, there are some ways that you might be able to save money on babysitting services without sacrificing the quality of care you’ll be providing for your children.
If you have family that lives in the area, asking them to help watch your kids is likely going to be the first thing you try when you’re looking for a sitter. This can be a great first option because:
Just remember that if you have family who’s willing to pitch in, don’t feel uncomfortable asking for help. After all, that’s what family is for, so there’s no need to feel guilty!
If you’re going on a double date with a couple you’re friends with, or even if you’re going on a separate date on the same night, you may be able to share the cost of a babysitter by getting one to watch all your kids at once. While it may cost you more to get someone to watch more kids, the added cost per child is relatively small ($16.75 for one child versus $19.26 for two according to UrbanSitter).
For example, if you and your friend hire separate babysitters for three hours and you each have one child, you’ll each pay around $50 at $16.75 an hour. But if you hire one sitter to watch both your kids for those three hours at a rate of $19.26 an hour, the total cost would be about $58 split between two people, costing you each $29. This would save each of you $21.
Speaking of friends, they can help you save money on babysitting in more ways than just splitting the cost of a sitter. If you have a friend that you trust and also has kids that are young enough to need a babysitter, offer to babysit for them one night while they do the same for you another night. This way, both couples get to have a well-earned date night without having to pay a babysitter at all! And if your kids are the same age, they get the benefit of having a play date.
If you don’t have the money to hire a babysitter, the easiest thing to do is to just not go out at all. But this doesn’t mean you have to cancel your date night. There are plenty of things you can do for a date night at home, and you just need to wait for the kids to go to bed before you start.
Keeping your date night to the confines of your own home can be a great way for parents to cut out the cost of babysitting services while still putting aside time to enjoy a special night with each other. This might be especially appealing if you’ve already had an exhausting day and don’t feel like you have the energy to leave the house.
Earlier we spoke about how you can swap babysitting services with friends you trust, but these aren’t the only services you can swap. If you have friends in the neighborhood, or someone on your block you trust and are friendly with, you can offer to do tasks for them like mow their lawn, shovel their driveway, or take out their garbage every week in exchange for the occasional babysitting duty. You may even be able to get your kids to do these tasks to help teach them the importance of responsibility.
Managing your schedule can be a tricky thing. Finding time for yourself and your relationship among all the hustle and bustle of your day can be even harder when you’re living on a tight budget. But making time to focus on your relationship can be hugely important for parents and being able to plan time together often starts with finding affordable babysitting services.
Look to the options at your disposal and consider some of the tips we’ve listed here. You may be able to find the right fit for your family and go out for a night of fun without worrying about your kids or your budget!
Do you have any tips for cutting back on the cost of babysitting services? Share below!