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Look at you! You’re ready to go with your cheap date ideas when suddenly a voice from the other room cries out, “I need to go potty!”
Ah-ha! You just remembered you’re a parent—which means you have children. You’ll need someone to watch those children when you and your spouse head out for your awesome (but totally budget-friendly) date night.
How much is the going rate for a babysitter?
UrbanSitter surveyed more than 20,000 families around the country for its annual survey, which found that the average cost of babysitting as of 2018 was $16.43 per hour for one child. The most common reason parents cited for hiring a babysitter was for date night coverage. Assuming the average date night runs about four hours, hiring a babysitter could set a parent back $65 for one night out.
That $65, however, doesn’t include the extras many parents throw in; 55% of parents surveyed tip their babysitter, and 83% offer perks like on-demand movies, food delivery, and even museum and amusement park passes.
Costs also rise with the number of children. Rates go up to $18.86 per hour for two kids ($75 for one date night) and $20.56 per hour for three ($82 for one date night).
Nor does this amount count the cost of an actual date itself. The survey found that the top three most common date night activities were going to dinner, taking in a concert or show, and seeing a movie. Assuming a date night includes both dinner ($50) and a movie ($25), it could easily end up costing parents $140. That’s enough to make most parents want to stay home.
Date night isn’t the only reason parents hire sitters, though. Parents also hire extra help for reasons such as running errands or going to appointments, covering before- and after-school care, and even just to have a few moments of hard-won “me time.”
And sometimes the reasons themselves can alter the cost. Parents often pay more for sitters who come before or after school – as much as $2 per hour extra. And many parents would pay more for a babysitter who had safety training, an early education degree, or a child care certification.
The cost of babysitting can also vary by location per Care, with San Francisco coming in as the most expensive city to hire a babysitter at $17.43 per hour for one child and Phoenix the cheapest at $11.83 per hour.
Budget-conscious date night ideas:
Use a baby monitor.
Yes, it’s a beautiful thing. Put the kids to sleep, grab the baby monitor, and enjoy your date at home! If your kids are older, you won’t need the monitor. Just make sure you don’t leave the house while they’re asleep. That’s a free parenting tip for you right there.
This is a nice way to enjoy dates, even when you can’t get out of the house. The baby monitor method is especially great if you don’t have any family who lives close by, can’t find a sitter, or just don’t want to pay for one.
Share babysitting duties with other parents:
Consider forming a babysitting co-op with friends or neighbors. You can take turns watching each other’s children, eliminating the need to hire a babysitter and saving money in the process.
Family and friends:.
If you live near your family, the babysitting rays of sunshine have beamed upon you. Don’t abuse it, but definitely use it! Call Grandpa and Grandma and ask them if they can watch the kids this weekend while the two of you try out some cheap date ideas.
If you don’t live close to family, consider asking for help when they come to town for a visit. Sure, you want to spend time with them. But you know who they really came to see—their grandbabies. So let them play with the kids while you two step out for some bonding time. All you need is a few hours to test out your new and creative date ideas.
If you have friends or neighbors who also need babysitting services, you can explore the option of hiring a babysitter together and splitting the cost. This way, you can still get reliable care for your child while sharing the financial burden.
Hire a Pre-Teen
t’s difficult to pinpoint a universal age when a child is old enough to babysit younger children. Many states have no specific age requirements for babysitting, but many specify how old a child must be to be left home alone – often 12 to 13. Make sure to check with your own state for applicable laws.
The American Red Cross babysitting course requires a minimum age of 11, and I remember taking on babysitting as a first job at that age. Yet many parents are reluctant to hire a sitter so young, and probably for good reason. Maturity levels can vary widely, and many 11-year-olds aren’t likely ready for that kind of responsibility.
So, if there’s no real “correct” age, it really comes down to the individual. If you’re contemplating hiring a younger babysitter – aged 11 to 14 – take some time to consider the babysitter’s maturity level and whether or not they’ve taken any babysitting or safety courses, and then compare that against the ages of your own children and the level of care required.
You might also want to look into hiring a pre-teen you already know through your friend circle, church, work, or other organization. Having some familiarity with the pre-teen can help you better determine if they’d be a good fit.
If, after you’ve thought about all the factors, you’ve decided you feel comfortable hiring a pre-teen to babysit your kids, it could save you some money. Many pre-teens offer to work for a lower hourly rate than older sitters to land that first job and gain some experience.
When hiring a babysitter, discuss the rates upfront and negotiate if possible. Some babysitters may be willing to offer a discount, especially if you’re a regular client or have multiple children.
Opt for shorter durations:
If you only need a babysitter for a few hours, consider hiring someone for a shorter duration rather than a full evening. This can help reduce the overall cost.
Seek out local resources:
Check if there are any local organizations or programs that provide low-cost or subsidized babysitting services. Non-profit organizations or community centers might have resources or recommendations for affordable childcare options.
Use babysitting apps:
Explore babysitting apps and websites that connect parents with local babysitters. Some of these platforms offer discounted rates or promotional deals that can help you save money.
Utilize school resources:
If your child is school-age, inquire with the school about after-school programs or clubs that offer supervision. These options are often more affordable than hiring a babysitter.
Plan outings during off-peak hours:
If you need a babysitter for special occasions or events, consider scheduling them during off-peak hours. Babysitters may charge less for daytime or weekday babysitting compared to evenings or weekends.
It’s Time to Budget for Your Cheap Date Ideas
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a memorable date. So take a moment and talk to a friend or family member and learn how to fall in love with the beauty of saving money while still being able to bond with your significant other.
Remember, while it’s important to save on babysitting costs, prioritize the safety and well-being of your child. Ensure that any babysitter you hire is reliable, trustworthy, and capable of providing adequate care.