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How to Cut the Costs of a Babysitter or Nanny

Guest post by Elizabeth from Learning Life with Liz

If you have children, you will probably need a babysitter at some point. Most people hire a babysitter and pay them between $5-$12 an hour depending on the number of kids and the family’s budget.

If you need a full-time nanny, you’re likely going to pay between $8-$12 an hour. That adds up fast! If you use your nanny 40-45 hours per week, you will be spending between $320-$540 per week!

Here are some money saving tips to think about when you want to hire someone:

Trade services

If you have friend’s with kids, trade date nights and outings. This will save you 100%.

Be creative, there are plenty of ways to trade services. I know a massage therapist who trades massages for sitters. This works very well when you need a babysitter for a few hours.

Share a babysitter

Contact your friends and see if they would like to share a babysitter. Have a few friends agree to this so that there is a better chance of someone going out the same night. This also works great for double dates.

I wouldn’t suggest combining more than three or four children. If you do, ask the sitter if she can handle it. You might have to pay her a little more though. If you usually pay $10 an hour, pay her $12 an hour. You are still saving $4 per hour with sharing the cost. The babysitter will also like having more families in her network.

You can make a profile on or and this will help you find a babysitter fast. You will have access to their pictures, information, and best of all, background checks. There is a cost to signing up for these services, but you can share that cost, too!

Share a nanny

If you need a full-time nanny, but can’t afford one, consider sharing one with a friend or family member. If you and a nearby friend both need a nanny, you can cut your costs in half! Instead of paying $320-$540 per week, you will only be spending $160-$270!

Plan it with a friend and sign up for or, listing your plan in your family bio. You can also alternate houses and split the costs of food for the children each week. The kids will love having playmates!

Don’t forget the tax credit

Be sure to get your nanny or babysitter’s SS#. Track the hours and how much you are spending and report it on your taxes. You will get a percentage of that money refunded. This is a way to save money even without sharing a sitter. {Note from Crystal: Make sure to check with a local CPA regarding tax credits what you may or may not be eligible for in your situation.}

I hope this encourages you to be creative and save money when using a babysitter or a nanny. It may not work for everyone, but suggesting it to friends/family won’t hurt. I’m sure they would like the savings, too!

Elizabeth is a wife, and a mother to her son, Liam. She works part-time in childcare and also blogs at Learning Life with Liz. Besides doing research for her blog, she enjoys couponing and spending time with family!

(Note: The link in this post is my referral link. Read our disclosure policy here.)

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  • Jo says:

    You can only deduct the amount you are paying a sitter if you are paying them at least minimum wage (or more). Be sure to check what your state’s minimum wage requirements are.

  • Good Tips! Sharing/trading are great ways to cut costs.

    However, sometimes paying more for a nanny (15-25/hr) is worth it in the long run. Sometimes you do get what you pay for:)

    Also, a good idea for tipping an excellent sitter is to take advantage of those half off gift cards that pop up on the daily deal sites.

  • Allison says:

    You might want to mention to readers that the cost of childcare is only tax deductible if the childcare is during the time when both parents are at work, and if the babysitter reports the income on their taxes. The money you pay your babysitter for date night is not tax deductible. The money paid to a mother’s helper while dad is at work but mom is home is also not tax deductible. The value of services traded/received is not tax deductible.

  • Wendi S says:

    There are some great ideas here, several of which I plan to use, but the tax info is a little vague. I think you only get the tax credit if you are using the sitter while you work. The article also mentions sitters for date nights, but I don’t think you get any tax credit for that. I feel there should probably be a link to a reputable tax site when giving such vague info.

  • Siobhan @MoneyDearest says:

    Here are all the tax laws by state for nannies… I am one so I am always checking it out

  • Amanda Ungleich says:

    If you have a nanny please be aware that according to the IRS that nanny is a household employee and you MUST issue a W4 and do taxes accordingly. I worked as a professional nanny for years and it was difficult finding employers who were willing to do this. A nanny is not considered self employed or a contractor if you pay them more than $1700 a year (per the IRS). If you employee a nanny please do them the favor of making these legal (not to mention moral!) and doing things the proper way!

  • Amy says:

    Be careful about plugging the tax credit use without also mentioning that when you pay someone to watch a child in your own home, you are also going to need to pay employer (“nanny”) taxes for that person, providing you pay them over a certain amount each year (not sure on the specifics, but it’s quite low, like around $1700 annually). AND, if you have not already discussed tax payments with your nanny, you will probably need to end up paying for her and your share of the taxes, so that she still maintains the wage you had previously agreed upon. Take it from someone who has recently gone through the complete and total HEADACHE of even filing back taxes to correct not paying the nanny tax in a previous year, if you will be filing using the tax credit, you had also better file paying the nanny taxes (if applicable to your situation) or it will be a red flag for the IRS.

    • liz says:

      I actually had this happen when I was a nanny for a family that refused to pay taxes on it. She wanted my SS# to claim the credit but didn’t want to pay employer taxes. It was a big mess and I had to work it all out on my end. She ended up walking away with the credit though. :/

    • Emily says:

      Yes! It is very very important to keep this in mind. Even if you *think* you might cross the $1700 threshold in a year you need to file the initial paperwork for your federal tax ID number, also get set up with the state, and figure out what quarterly paperwork needs to be filed for the state and/or feds. Don’t forget workers compensation–make sure you don’t qualify. I honestly had *no* idea how many hours I would spend trying to make sense of all the tax forms all because I had a nanny 10 hours a week so I could work from home. In the end, I figured it out and it wasn’t bad, but you definitely need to keep this mind.

    • Emily Kay says:

      I’m pretty sure the limit here in Texas is much lower…like $600 or something. Anything above that and you have to pay taxes on what you pay them. Good reason to switch up your babysitters occasionally. 😛

      • Tara says:

        The federal law is that you have to issue any independent contractor a 1099 if you pay them $600 or more. If your nanny is an independent contractor, you are not responsible for their payroll taxes. I am a tax preparer and I usually see families treat their nannies or babysitters as independent contractors. This might not be the most technically correct way to do it, but it is correct enough that the IRS doesn’t often pursue it. They are tightening up the laws on 1099 issuance, so be aware that changes are on the horizon.

  • Meghan says:

    $5/hour?!? We pay $10/hour for 2 kids in Virginia. When I was a babysitter in suburban Boston *10 years ago*, I made $12/hour minimum—I think it’s about $20/hour there now!

    I started swapping babysitting with a friend last year, and it was awesome. She would come sit for our kids while we went out (her hubby was home with theirs), then I’d do the same thing for her. All kids went to bed at about the same time in their own house, so it kept things easy and consistent. Unfortunately she just moved…..I need to find someone to replace her for more babysitting swapping!

    • Lisa says:

      Yup – I live in the Boston suburbs and the going rate is between $15 – $20 per hour for a sitter for my two kids. Those with three or more pay even higher prices

      • Amy says:

        Yep, $15/hr here in LA, and I have a fabulous nanny at a great deal!

      • Danielle says:

        I live in Boston and yes, childcare is crazy expensive! I have a friend who is a nanny for 1 kid and makes $55,000/yr. That’s more than I made teaching elementary school full-time in the west.
        We are grad students with two kids and I work part-time from home. There is no way we coiled afford childcare. We have friends in the Same situation that we also swap with– ITS WONDERFUL! They live in our complex, so we take them to their house, they watch them, feed them dinner, then bring them home and put them to bed. We swap every weekend, which means we get two dates a month and so do they. My parents did the same thing when we were young with a family in our neighborhood. I can’t recommend it enough. Find someone you trust and go for it.
        I also have a friend that we swap watching each others kids once a week for two hours each, just for a few hours to go shopping or clean your house.

        • H says:

          I think swapping with a friend is the best idea ever!! Who better to watch my baby then a mom I trust? (Besides MY mom that is! ;)) I feel SOOO blessed to have grandma so close.

      • KATIE says:

        Wow that is crazy to me. I live in southern ohio and my babysitter only charges me $20 a day if she only watches one of my kids or if she watches both she charges $15 per kid per day and they are there for 7 1/2 hours a day.

    • I’ve heard of others doing this and I think it’s a great idea.

      If your kids go to bed early enough the parents put their own children to bed then the dad from the other family stays home (with his sleeping kids) and the mom comes to your house (with your sleeping kids). Then you’re able to go out on a later date, the other parents get a quite night in, and the kids all stay on schedule in their own homes.

      Once our kids are sleeping better at night (we have 4 under 5) we’ll definitely be on the lookout for a family to swap with.

    • Rebecca says:

      YIKES! I pay my AWESOME sitter $7.50 an hour for 3 kids under 6. That’s pretty average where I live. I would never pay $20 an hour….I might as well take my kids to the church daycare center and pay $35 for the WHOLE DAY. Funny how babysitting needs to be included in the “cost of living” 🙂

    • Shannon says:

      Weird Meghan — we are twins! I pay $10/hr for our two toddlers ($8/hr if they are already in bed when the sitter arrives) and I am also in Virginia. We pretty much never go out because we can’t afford a sitter AND the cost of the date. I also used to nanny and babysit in Boston a few years ago, I made $15/hr babysitting. I am also currently looking for a sitter swap — you’re not in Fredericksburg by any chance are you? 🙂

      • Meghan says:

        Ha! No, I’m in Norfolk. The babysitting swap is so great—free babysitting and my friend and I both said it was nice to have a quiet night at the other’s house (to watch a movie or read or something after the kids went to bed). Hope you find somebody to swap with soon!

    • liz says:

      I have a teenager babysit if we want to go out when my son is asleep. She only charges $5 an hour! She doesn’t mind getting paid $5 an hour to sit on the couch and watch tv while my son sleeps. 🙂 But most likely you’ll be paying more than that.

    • Emily says:

      About two years ago I paid my sitter $12.00/hour for two kids in Cincinnati. That was a moderate rate. $5 is ridiculous. We pay our teenage sitter a lot more than that.

      • liz says:

        It is pretty low but it depends on the location, the number of kids, and what the family can afford to pay. Some families can’t pay more than $5 an hour and they find sitters willing to do it (like responsible teenagers or family members). In our case, my sitter told us she only charges $5 an hour, and really that was all we could afford when my husband was in school. She lived right below us so she didn’t mind coming upstairs and watching tv while our son was asleep. (We only used her at night after he was already in bed).. She really didn’t have to do anything at all. Plus we would always feed her when she came over, and sometimes let her bring a friend. I think that’s a pretty good deal for a 14-15 yr old.
        Now, we are moving to a new house and we can afford to pay her more so we probably will if she comes to babysit. Like I said, it really just depends on the individual situations. 🙂

    • Emily Kay says:

      Going rate here is $8 to $12 an hour, I think. When I was growing up I made $5 an hour and was thrilled. 🙂 We pay our young (15) sitter about $8 an hour but she provides her own transportation.

  • Child care is one situation where it works out better for me to be home – by the time I add the cost of the lunches we would take, the cost of school, childcare after school, higher grocery cost since I wouldn’t be able to catch the sales on Monday morning, etc I would be losing about as much as I could make, unless I was able to find a really well paying job, or work at a school that included lunches and after school care (and that is with only one child.)
    My husband and I decided to live on his income alone so that I could be the one to raise our child during the day. I know there are some situations where its not possible, but for us, just from a practical view , it makes the most sense financially. And I love being there with my son, and being able to have a nice meal and (sometimes) clean house for my husband when he gets home from work.

  • Emily says:

    Yes, I think $5/hour is a little outdated too. I used to make that when I babysat in middle school, which was well over 20 years ago. We pay our babysitter $10/hour for 2 kids, and that’s a great deal. Normally in our area, the high school kids charge $12/hour or so.

    • Jessica says:

      I agree with the $5/hr thing, but ran into an issue with it when my husband and I moved states… I started asking around the going rates here in a more “small town” type environment, and many babysitters really do go more at the $6-7/hr (for 1-2 kids) and $10/hr if it’s 3-4 kids… I wanted to pay more (because those were the prices I made 15 years ago), but realized it would cause too much tension between all of the families if one of us was paying double. So if you are new to an area, or new to hiring a babysitter, ask other families what they’re paying, and ask the teens what they charge, so you’re not over-paying/under-paying.

    • Meissa says:

      I only charge $5 per hour here in PA but I have a 3 hr. min. so parents pay $15 even if they only need me for an hour. It really depends where you live but my neighbor only charges $20 per child PER DAY. I told her she needs to up her price! I only watch 2 kids for about 10 hrs. a week so taxes are not an issue.

  • Sandra says:

    I have been joining forces with a couple of my girlfriends for years at the holidays. There are 3 of us, and 4 children total. We each take a Saturday for the first 3 weekends in December. We drop our child/children off at our girlfriends at 8:00 and pick them up by 8:00. We feed the children breakfast at home but the mother caring for them provides lunch, dinner and snacks which is great for the last thing I want to do after a day of non-stop holiday shopping and errands is having to prepare a dinner for my family. 12 hours of child care in one day is alot but, I am so thankful for the 2 other Saturdays I have (for a total of 24 hours of free time) to prepare for the holidays. My husband and I join forces and take the kids out sledding, and snowman building and afterwards, it’s naptime. While everyone is sleeping, I prepare dinner and after we’ve all eaten it’s back out the door for a drive to see holiday lights. We are back home by 8:00 and when my girlfriends and their husbands arrive we all enjoy a cup of hot cocoa together before we depart from our day of festivitiesWe have a blast and so do the kids!

  • Anne C says:

    Remember that if you are going to try to get the deduction for childcare you are asking your caregiver to pay taxes on the income (and thus significantly lowering the amount of money they make). Additionally, as an employer you may have obligations to pay for your employee (FICA, etc.). Unless you are hiring someone to work regular and significant hours (and thus they are legally required to report the income) most caregivers will not (and probably should not) consent to this.

    • Emily says:

      This is a great point. When our regular nanny was sick we had to get friends to fill in. Although I didn’t have to pay FICA for them because they weren’t being paid more than $1700 by me in a year, I knew if I claimed them as an employee on my taxes to get the childcare deduction they would get audited to see if they claimed that income (which they were not–one of them was on unemployment at the time). This is one reason I would promote the use of a childcare contract if you have a regular caregiver. You need to make sure you are both on the same page regarding wage, taxes, form of payment (I had a nanny who requested cash only but I could not oblige because I wanted record of payment), how sick time would be handled, what sort of notice you are promising if you need to let her go, etc.

  • Mary S. says:

    I too think $5 an hour is incredibly low. I made $8 an hour when I was in high school 7 years ago (and then $10 an hour after I got my Red Cross First Aid certification).

    Sharing a nanny can work out really well though. Especially if your kids are all friends. I nannied a couple summers during college and my favorite days were the ones where we had a playdate. The kids are far less likely to get bored, its easier to play board games or make believe with more people and as long as they got along it wasn’t really much more work. Now, it would have been a different story if they were all in diapers or something but with toddlers and beyond it can work out really well.

  • SK says:

    First of all, I am not a mom but I did babysit for many years in junior high, high school, and college–and even some now that I’m in my 20s and in grad school. That being said… I really think you get what you pay for–not that it is right, but some sitters don’t “care” as much if they aren’t being paid as well, are given more kids to watch, or may flock to other regular, better paying jobs. I think it helps if you can explain to your potential sitter why you want to pay her x amount/hr, as well as be upfront about your scheduling expectations if it’s a job with any regularity. I had a family want to pay me less per hour while their child was asleep versus awake, but they didn’t tell me it was for financial reasons–rather, because I had less to do because their child was sleeping and could do my own thing. But isn’t their child still in my care during those times and being available in case of an emergency or bad dreams is still important. And they wanted a regular weekend babysitting commitment but didn’t want to plan their schedule in advance. So needless to say, I didn’t need the extra income enough to say yes to that arrangement (especially because their offered rate was $10 awake/$8 asleep…way less than average for the area).

    I know this can be a difficult topic for moms and families who do want to save money… but coming from a babysitter’s perspective, I urge you to consider the repercussions of the quality of care you may receive. Personally, I wouldn’t treat a child differently if I wasn’t being paid well–but some would. What I would do was find the better paying jobs because that benefits me… and a lot of quality caregivers do feel the same way. I do think though that honesty goes a long way with sitters so there is flexibility, but just don’t take advantage of sitters because it’s a flexible/somewhat unregulated industry. If you need a big break financially, then do look into trading/bartering/sharing…but only within reason. I know this article didn’t encourage people to pay their sitters less but just some things to think about!

    • Naomi says:

      This is very good advice! I am a mom now, but I did various kinds of childcare in college – was a nanny for a couple years and worked in a daycare for a year.

      As a mom who stays at home, even though its expensive for us to go out, we pay our sitters very well. I am very picky about who watches my children, and I am willing to pay for it – even though they are usually asleep most of the time when we are out. I would much rather spend the money knowing my children are with someone who loves them almost as much as me than just trying to save a few bucks!

      • dk says:

        When I had daycare for my children (I am a teacher), I always said the money I paid my child care provider was my MOST important budget item! I would forego vacations and eat beans in order to be financially generous to her. My motto for holidays, etc. was to show my appreciation with money! I would give her a generous amount on a gift card that she could use to soften her budget or buy something for herself!

  • Carrie says:

    Another idea, especially for moms who blog or are otherwise self-employed, is to look for low-cost drop-in situations. For example I was a little extra busy this week, so right now I am at my gym while my son plays in the childcare here. For $20 a month (in addition to my membership) he can stay in there 2 hours a day and we are lucky that our gym daycare is good quality.

    Another resource I have tapped for busy times is employing a “mother’s helper” who is a little young for regular babysitting but can keep the kids out of my hair while I am working at home. The 11-year-old on our block does a very nice job for $5 an hour. The only thing is, I prefer to have her come when the weather is nice because she is not as good as the adult sitter at making sure my kids don’t trash their room while playing!

  • Becky says:

    Also, check out local churches! My church here in Sherwood, AR does a free parents night out once a month! It’s not limited to members only either. I’m a regular attender, but not a member.


  • This may or may not save money, but I have found that a daycare center works best for us, financially and otherwise. I work a set part-time schedule, and have found that daycare centers in recent years are moving toward more flexibility with part-time options and drop-in options, and even hourly drop-in options.

    I first wanted to use only a babysitter / nanny, but after going through several babysitters and seeing the issues with scheduling, taxes, people moving, different personalities, etc., I found it to be more trouble than it was worth. Finally, a not-so-good babysitter pushed us over to daycare, probably permanently. I like the fact that the teachers have a certain level of training and oversight, that the facility undergoes a base level of regular screening by the state (and is screened by all us parents daily), and that the teachers are able to take a break when they need one.

    • Rachael says:

      One great thing about a center is that is almost always open. If the teacher is sick, the center takes care of finding a sub. This is a huge stress relief for working parents.

      • Guest says:

        That is true but the big difference for us is that our children were sick ALL the time and daycares have strict rules about when they can and cannot go. Having a nanny has alleviated that problem for us because they are rarely sick and when they are, she still keeps them regardless. She is also sick much less than she used to be now that she doesn’t work around sick kids all the time!

    • Christy says:

      When we had my first son, my husband’s work schedule was 12 noon – 10:00 p.m. OR 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. for most of the year (holidays got crazy). He would also be off one weekday a week (and one weekend day). It was random from week to week. No pattern to which days were 7-5, which days were 12-10, and off. I am a teacher, fairly set hours. The daycares around here charge you a set rate no matter how much or little you’re there. At first, we thought getting a sitter would be cheaper since on most weeks, we could get away with only 4 days of care and maybe 2-3 of those days, we would only need care 11:30 – 3 or 4. Then we realized how crazy it would be to get a sitter and constantly be changing her hours. This week, we need you 7-3 Monday, off Tues., 11:30 – 3 on Wed. and Thurs. and 7-3 on Friday, but next week we don’t need you on Monday, but need you 7-5 on Tues and Wed….. you get the idea. Then there was the constant changing of my husband’s schedule at the last minute and meetings he would have to go to on his day off. Paying the set daycare rate was worth it so that he always had the flexibility to go in to work when needed and the daycare is open 6 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. so we could drop off at 6:30 a.m. or at 11:00, as needed. We now have 2 children and DH has a different work schedule and we still love the same daycare!

  • Kelly says:

    I would warn babysitters or nannies against just giving their SS# out to any family they babysit for, that seems like just opening yourself up for Identity Theft.

  • Nanny says:

    Just on a side note, I was a full time nanny for 4 years and to be honest there was nothing I disliked and would deny service to those who tried to use me for more than just their family! So before getting excited about sharing your sitter or nanny you should first check with them AND offer to pay an additional 3-4 bucks per head.

  • There are always creative options, and there are some good tips here! My only word of advice would be to consult a professional about tax issues before filing. Not only can you not deduct “date nights”, you are also obligated to claim trades/barters of professional goods (trading massages for childcare, for example) as income. Not fully disclosing all these things can cause a real headache in the future.

    That said, I really like the tip about sharing a sitter, and also the reader’s tip about taking advantage of the gym daycare. There are a lot of ways to be creative with inexpensive daycare without the headache of tax laws.

  • Judy says:

    This post makes me sad. I work full-time as a nanny/babysitter to a great 18 month old toddler, and have since she was 3 months old. I work Monday through Friday, between 40-50 hours a week (8-10 hours a day) and get paid $200 a week. $800 a month. I think I need to find a better paying job because apparently people pay A LOT more for babysitters. 🙁

    Anybody want to hire a very experienced, responsible, mature 22 year old babysitter? LOL. You may find me reading MSM at nap time, though 😉

    • I am a nanny too sweetie. You should be making at least $10 an hour.. I know its hard to talk to the family about money. Trust me I know, I am a total push over about that stuff. I should be getting overtime/paid vacation according to state laws but I let it slide.

      They can’t honestly expect you to live on $800 a month.

    • Mary S. says:

      Even at just 40 hours a week that works out to $5 an hour which is below minimum wage. I know it isn’t easy to talk to people about this subject but for a full time job you should be making at least minimum wage. (The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour)

    • Guest says:

      You could do so much better. We live in Arkansas and the going-rate is a minimum of $10/hour for a nanny plus vacation.

    • Brandi says:

      We live in a big city. The going rate for a nanny here is $500 a week AND UP. My neighbor pays $625 a week for 1 kid 10 months old. You should ask the other nannies about their pay. $200 sounds way too low!

    • Emily Kay says:

      Are they providing you with living accomodations, Judy? That’s the only way I can see $800 being sufficient. Otherwise you definitely need to have a discussion with them…maybe just ask for a gradual pay raise over a length of time?

      • Judy says:

        No, they are not providing me with living accommodations.
        Man, now I feel like I’ve been being taken advantage of 🙁 I think I’ll have to have a talk with them or find a new job. I think their argument is that they could put their child in daycare for $800 a month, so why should they pay me more? But no, I obviously can’t live on $800 a month. I have a lot of things paid for by my parents, and I pay my car payment, student loans, credit card payments etc and have a (very!) small amount left over for myself.
        Thanks ladies for giving me something to think about….

        • Naomi says:

          Before you head out the door, consider the geographical area you live in. In many areas, costs vary for full time day care workers, even in-home. When I was in college just a few years ago, I had 2 different jobs that paid me almost on opposite ends of the spectrum. The lower paying job really was not viewed as being a low-wage. It was really pretty average for a full time care-giver.

        • liz says:

          They COULD probably get the child in a daycare for that price BUT it is much more convenient for them to have a nanny come to their home. With daycare you have to get the child up and ready, drop them off, pick them up and all of that. With the nanny coming over you really don’t have to do anything except leave for work. The child also gets to stay home in their own environment and get one-on-one attention that you can’t always get with daycare. People pay more for a nanny because of all of these reasons and more. I think $200 a week is extremely low for up to 50 hours of work. :/ Do you clean their house and stuff too? Sometimes nannies get paid extra when they’re doing cleaning too.

  • Heather says:

    Speaking up for the so-called cheap people: I often pay $5 an hour if I have to go pick up and return the sitter, and it’s in the evening when the kids are all in bed. $5 an hour to sit on the sofa and watch TV is decent pay for a 14 year old around here (VA), and hey, they can always turn down the job if they don’t think it’s enough. But they don’t.
    Now, if sitter drives herself over, and has to feed them dinner, put them to bed, etc. I will pay more.
    Just because the cost of living (including sitters) in certain urban areas is out of control, doesn’t mean the rest of us are cheap if we pay sitters in accordance with local salaries. Although I do know people around here that pay sitters a whole lot more – seems to be an ego thing. And I would love to be the rich generous parent who makes a teenagers draw drop with amazement as I hand them their pay, but I’m not.

  • Jenny says:

    My friend and I trade babysitting services every other week. We each get to enjoy a 2 hour date with our husband twice a month 🙂 I think its the best way to go if you can find someone willing to swap. At the end of the month we sit down with our calendars and plan the next month. We generally do Tuesdays but occassionally something comes up where we need to change it a bit. We’ve been doing this for several months now, it works out great!

  • Great ideas! We’ve tried trading with friends but for some reason no one ever wants to do this. I guess they just wanna stay at home all the time and not go out on dates 🙁

    We do have some friends however who are single and more than happy to watch our kids for us when we get antsy and wanna spend time alone together. This has worked wonders for us!

  • And this is why we don’t go out! A babysitter for 6 children for one evening would be incredibly expensive! (not to mention, difficult for most young sitters).

    I used to swap with a friend once a month, but when the baby cried the whole time once (nursing baby would refused to take a bottle of expressed milk) my friend decided it was too hard to trade anymore.

    My parents are willing to watch our children for a very short time 1-2 times a year, usually for our anniversary and once for our birthdays (combined). They usually say to be back within 1 1/2 hours (including driving time to go out). They give us a little for dinner, and that’s how we can go out.

    A night out more often would be nice, but for now, we just have date nights at home. A good game, a nice conversation, sometimes a little dessert, and an occasional free show online make for nice dates.

    • It’s just a season. Once they’re all up and grown, you’ll have way too many date nights, and wish for a little more noise in the house 🙂

    • Guest says:

      Are there other “large” families 🙂 in your area that you could do a trade with? I know that a few families from the local LDS church do trades and it seems to work very well for them.

    • Andrea says:

      Take the baby with you and nurse her to sleep. It’s easier to carry one around in a sling than it is to herd a group. Or, for a baby that’s a bit older, try milk from a cup instead of a bottle.

    • Karen says:

      This too shall pass, right? And then you’ll miss it (as I’m sure you already know). For me, 6 kids is no big deal. If I could manage 7 toddlers on my own (working child care), I can totally handle 6 of varying ages. I work as a nanny now and it’s interesting for me to hear the “wows” of people as I traipse around with the 3 boys I care for. They seem to think 3 is a lot…and then I mention that the parents are planning on a 4th! I say–the more, the merrier!

  • Ann says:

    I’ll testify to the shared babysitter! We have three children, two of whom are school age. We regularly share babysitters with a friend for evening work events and during the summer. It’s a win-win-win: we pay less, the kids have a better time because they have a friend to play with, and the babysitter makes a little more money AND doesn’t have to mediate as many sibling arguments!

    A note on taxes: if the babysitter is at your house, you’re responsible for household employee taxes IF you pay them more than $600/yr AND it’s their main occupation. Students, especially those under 18, are exempt since their primary occupation is being a student. So this summer we shared a rising high school senior babysitter with two other friends (four kids total) and it worked very, very well. It is important to sit down beforehand with EVERYONE involved (parents, babysitter, kids) and outline the house rules (for the hosting house) including food issues and conflict resolution plans.

  • We just recently started swapping childcare for our once a month date nights with some good friends. It’s working out really well and we’re both enjoying being able to get out on a date with our spouses without having to pay high prices for childcare!

  • queuepawn says:

    A friend and I swap babysitting once a week–it works out great!! I get a morning “off” while she watches my kids and then the next week we swap.

    A word on taxes–I’m no expert, but I did research a little because I watched a boy (45 hours a week) while his parents worked. I believe you can only claim babysitting on your taxes if it’s while you’re working or to look for work (not for a night out or for doctor’s appt. etc.). Also, I did not feel comfortable giving them my SSN # (even though I knew them well and trusted them). They completely understood; I did give them a receipt for the year with a note of explanation saying I was not a business, just a babysitter, and didn’t feel comfortable giving my SSN for tax purposes. I’m not sure if they claimed it or not, but my understanding was that they could and just leave the SSN number of the sitter blank. (I gave them the formal receipt with a note of explanation in case they ever got audited. Then they’d have proof of what was going on.) I’d double check with a tax expert before claiming anything like this on your taxes. Hope that helps.

  • I’m a college aged baby sitter, and I agree that $5/hour is too low where ever you live! I’ve been babysitting for many years and I’m offended when I get paid less than $10/hour (which is all too often). If I wanted to get paid less than $10/hour I’d go be a cashier at the local store, because as you all know, taking care of children is a lot of work! It deserves “good” pay and parents shouldn’t take advantage of it.

    I don’t tell the parents what I charge per hour, because it’s different for each family and their circumstances. But on the other hand, they are leaving their children’s life in my hands and you cannot put a price tag on that. If you have multiple children or kids of younger age, expect to pay at LEAST $10+/hour for a babysitter.

    Babysitting is one of the things to NOT be a cheapo on! Please!

    • Naomi says:

      Agreed! I was a childcare provider when I was in college, and now as a mom, I insist that we pay our sitters well. Besides, I am very picky about who watches my children so I am very willing to pay them what I feel they are worth – and a great sitter is PRICELESS!

  • Caroline says:

    A friend and I shared a nanny when our boys were 3 months-1 year. We each paid her $140/week. She was taking classes at the time and was able to get all her schoolwork done during the day since they were both taking two naps (or more at the beginning) a day.
    One thing I haven’t seen anyone mention if you’re paying for full-time babysitting is a dependent care flexible spending account. The most you can do is $5000, which I hit easily with two kids in daycare/preschool. You keep track of it for the month, give them the paper to sign with their tax ID # if they have one or their social security number. You get a check back each month, either for the amount you submitted or at the highest, $416.67. That’s how much comes out of your check each month if you claim the whole $5000. The best part is in the summer (I’m a teacher) I’m not paying childcare but I still get that check because I’ve already spent $5000 and submitted it. You also still get a tax credit.

    • a mom says:

      We do that too. We had one for #1 through my job. You can only get $5,000 no matter how many kids you have and it doesn’t even pay for 1 in daycare all year. So when we had #2, we signed up for one through my husband’s job. He gets paid weekly and was a little upset that we would be deducting $96/week from his check. But, the deduction is taken out before taxes. When the deduction went through, it actually only affected his take-home pay by a few dollars a week. Totally worth it. When I get reimbursed from my flexible spending account, I just pay it right back to the daycare (it covers 3 weeks – $4). I then pay the other week out of pocket. When my husband gets his reimbursement, he pays our car payment with it–it is bigger than the car payment so we are paying it off early (we pay #2’s daycare costs out of our tax return–just left it in savings and transfer it once a month, was almost the same amount of money). Waiting until next year when #1 starts kindergarten and we will have minimal childcare costs for him (I am a teacher–he can go to extended day at my school for free on Early Release Days and faculty meeting days. I will have to pay $5/hour on other afternoons I need him there (parent conferences/grade level meetings, etc.).

  • Floppy Elephant says:

    My babysitter is 15 years old (she just turned 15 last month) and her parents won’t pay for any make-up, “girlie stuff”, and hair accessories—she has to buy all that herself. We made out a deal where she babysits “free” of charge, and I provide her with make-up, girlie body wash (vs.their bar soap), nail polish, hair accessories, etc. from all of my couponing. I love it because I get most of that free or very cheap, and she loves it because she gets far more from me than she could ever afford if she had to pay full price; especially the make-up. It’s a win-win situation for both of us and since several of her friends have asked me if we could have the same deal, I always have a back-up if my regular babysitter can’t work that night.

  • Sarah N says:

    I have just started working for EurAupair, an exchange program with a childcare component. It’s like having a foreign exchange nanny & it is around $7 an hour. From what im reading in tge comments that seems inexpensive. All the girls are screened first. If you’d like to take a look their website is

  • melissa says:

    This is too ironic. I’ve been praying to be able to find a good, reliable babysitter for a year or more now. About a month ago, my husband suggested trading babysitting with another couple we know. But they live 30 minutes away from us and have 3 kids of their own (we also have 3) and I didn’t know that they’d be interested. Well, just this week we got chatting on fb and SHE ended up asking if WE’D be interested in trading babysitting. I guess I should have listened to my husband! Our first night out is this Saturday! I’m SO excited! We plan to each have one date night a month. This is a major answer to prayer!

  • Jessica Claire says:

    I actually quit my job last month and got my license to do child care in my home. I am home with my kiddos now (which is great in itself) I am not paying child care for my 2 kiddos (It actually cost me more for day care than I was bringing home) and I am charging $2.50 an hour to watch my girl friends children!! I love it!! The kids and I already know each other, I am getting paid to watch kids I love, the parents know their kids are in great hands, and it’s a CHEAP licensed child care option for them. Not that this is an option for everyone but it is something to consider if you want to be a stay at home mom and your friends need day care 🙂 As far as giving away my SS#, I filed for a tax ID number. I don’t know if baby sitters or nannies can do this but it would be worth looking into. I have also filled all empty spots (I am doing 24/7 day care) simply by posting on craigs list. I got Many Many phone calls and e-mails! Now I am completely full 🙂 Hope this helps some one out.

  • K says:

    You may wish to remind your readers that cost is not–NOT BY A LONG SHOT–the most important factor when considering a child care arrangement.

    The nanny WHO WAS MY KID’S FULL-TIME SITTER FOR OVER A YEAR now sits in prison convicted of shaking a baby and causing him permanent physical harm. Before employing her to watch our then-1-year-old child, my husband and I of course checked out all her references and over the course of our relationship quickly grew to trust her implicitly. However, if my husband had not been Providentially laid off just as I was about to return to work from maternity leave with baby #2 (resulting in our decision for him to stay at home with the kids rather than continue to pay for child care), that could have been our baby.

    No one but she and God know what happened that day–for all I know, she could be completely innocent of wrongdoing and a victim of tragic circumstances–but this incident has served as a powerful reminder to our family that even those you know and trust with your children may not be who or what they seem. My heart breaks for all involved in this situation.

    • KATIE says:

      Wow. It gave me chills just reading that. I agree money should not at all be the top proirity when choosing a babysitter. I have to leave my girls at a babysitters house four days a week and I truly feel like I can trust but then again you never really know how someone is with your children when you aren’t around.

  • Analise says:

    These are great tips. I’d be cautious on the tax tip…won’t go on about it because other commenters have left more info.

    The one word of caution I’d provide on a nanny share is that it takes a really special situation, in my opinion, for it to work. We originally wanted to do a nanny share. After talking with a number of different people, there were always issues that would have driven one of us (or the nanny) crazy. You want to make sure you are paired with another family who shares similar discipline philosophies, have similar work hours, have similar ages, etc. You’ll also have to work through vacations, holidays, etc., etc.

    For us, it was worth it to pay for our own full-time nanny.

  • Rebecca says:

    Writing off babysitting expenses on your taxes definitely needs to be discussed with the sitter first! In college I babysat for a friends son and they mentioned that they were going to use the amount they paid me on their taxes. I didn’t think anything of it….until I went to file MY taxes! I had to file as a “small business owner” because I was receiving an income and ended up having to pay over $200 for the filing fee. My friends ended up only getting back about $80 of the money they paid to me. I would have rather just given them the $80 back :/

  • MK says:

    Something my husband and I did a few years ago was to form a babysitting co-op with several other families in our church. When we need a sitter, we can call anyone on that list to see if they’re available to watch our children. (The kids always go to that person’s house, and we emphasize that you should feel free to say no if you’re asked to babysit and can’t.) If they aren’t available, we just go down the list until we find someone who can. For payment, we use a token system. You pay 1 token per hour (no matter the number of kids) for another family to watch your kids, and you can earn 1 token per hour when you watch someone else’s. Each family started out in the co-op with 15 tokens total.

    It’s been a wonderful way for my husband and I to have an affordable date night. And I’ve also been able to implement it for doctor’s appointments, special lunches with friends, etc., when I’m not able to take the kids with me. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know some families and their kids better, and to have the opportunity for their kids to play with mine.

    We still occasionally hire a sitter if we want to stay out later and have the kids go to bed, but using the co-op has allowed us to afford that every now and then.

  • Megan says:

    I just want to echo so many other comments that you should tread carefully with tax issues — whether you take the deduction or you decide you just don’t want to deal with it and ignore the whole thing. Consult a professional knowledgeable in this area or be VERY diligent about doing your own research. A number from a comment on a website may not apply in your situation! Also, the IRS is really the “easy” one to figure out — your state’s taxes may be much, much more difficult. We live in California and had a nanny for almost a year, and the IRS/Social Security/W4 requirements were a breeze compared to the CA EDD requirements — nightmare!

    Never assume anything when it comes to taxes and don’t bury your head in the sand that they don’t apply to you. As another commenter said — you are even supposed to pay taxes on the value of services/goods exchanged — as if that doesn’t defy common sense!

    • Tara says:

      I am a tax preparer and I have seen alot of incorrect or partially correct comments on here. I would advise everyone to consult a tax professional regarding employment taxes and childcare tax credits, just like Crystal commented in the post.

    • Tara says:

      The incorrect and partially correct comments were elsewhere, Megan. Yours is common sense.

  • Lela says:

    Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is asking a babysitter if you had her on a regular”off” day/time for a discount. We have a 5,3 and 9 month old and our sitter who’s 16 is booked solid on Friday and Saturday! Mostly because she’s very good and knows how to take care of infants. We live on a modest income and can’t afford “date” night very often. Shes almost always free to babysit on Sundays however so every other Sunday afternoon she is willing to babysit at a much cheaper rate and all we really want is a few hours by ourselves. Sunday afternoon for 4 hours $26 Friday or Saturday night for 4 hours $80.

  • Lynn says:

    Wow! Lots of Virginians today, ha! I, too, am in VA. I think one thing to note about paying a sitter is frequency, age, qualifications, etc. I must admit I pay $12/hour for a sitter here and I usually add a decent tip. That being said, the sitter we use actually worked at the child development center where my first child went 6 years ago – she has since gotten her master’s in education and works as a teacher’s assistant. She is licensed and insured, she has all of her first aid and CPR creds current and is obviously a bit older and not a teenage. I mention it because there is a huge spread in what you pay, and yes if you are getting the kids to bed and paying a teenager to just basically sit and make sure all is quiet then you may not pay as much. On the other hand, if you are utilizing someone like we do – she engages the children, often does projects with them, feeds them, reads, etc AND she is fully prepared to handle a real emergency situation should one occur, then paying a bit more may be worth it. I just wanted to second K’s comments above that you really need to think about what you are paying for – nothing is more precious to us than our children and it might be worth it. I have left my children with my niece (who is a teenager) and even then only when my sister in law is home with them. I look back at my babysitting days as a teenage and often wonder if I could really have handled an emergency – yes, I could have dialed 911, but in the first stages of an emergency calmly administering CPR or whatever first aid can be rendered can actually make a huge difference.

    We don’t go out as much as we used to now that we have multiple children, but we find we would rather just save and have fewer splurge date nights and then try to also utilize the Parent’s Night Out at our local YMCA since our children have been going there for years now as well.

  • Vanessa says:

    I was a nanny five years ago before kids, and I would say that some of this information is a little inaccurate in some areas. I made $15 an hour for four kids. Plus it is so important to do the taxes correctly. No one wants taxes and penalties at a later time because someone was trying to save a little money on the front end.

    • liz says:

      yes it’s important to do the taxes correctly. Definitely. Also the $5-$12 an hour was just an average. It could definitely be higher and it depends on the area you live and the number of kids. 🙂

  • Janelle says:

    I’ve been babysitting in southern California since I was fourteen years old, and started out making a dollar an hour per child.

    Fifteen years on, I get paid about $10 an hour, and honestly, I would be so happy to take less. Why? I’m just an occasional babysitter for my friends. This is not my main source of income, it’s a chance for me to bless my friends and spend time with some really fun children. While the kids sleep, I work on lesson plans for my next day’s class or enjoy their cable tv– which I don’t have at home.

    Not every single twenty-something likes babysitting, but I can think of MANY who do. For us, it’s a blessing to be part of a family for a few hours. And unlike teenage sitters, we’re not dependent on the money, so will happily work for less, if not free.

    • lauren says:

      I have a precious christan 20 something sitter who my husband and my children adore! She is such a blessing and has even watched my babies over night. She too is a teacher. She always tells me to pay her whatever and money is tight for us but I feel bad if I don’t pay her at least 30. We usually go out from 6-9 or 930 and I pay about 30. I wish I could pay more but just can’t.. You made me feel better and that when she tells me she dosen’t care about the money just loves my babies that she means it. 🙂

  • a mom says:

    A good friend’s mom/friend of the family (her youngest is 34 now–my age), always told me about how she and a friend did substitute teaching when their kids were small. The had a rotation schedule. Mom A kept both family’s kids one day and Mom B subbed. Mom A subbed the next day and Mom B kept the kids. They were both good subs so called almost all the time (and you just say no to the days you don’t want to do). This gave them both a little bit of pocket money and my friend’s mom, who was an English teacher before having kids was able to keep her foot in the door with the local school district should she have ever needed to return to work.

    • Kabe says:

      I only thing I would caution here – because it IS a great idea – is that in many places, you can’t just “say no if you don’t want to work.” I mean, you CAN … but in a lot of districts, particularly in the northeast/NYC Metro area, there are so many subs rostered in a district that if you say no once or twice, the sub coordinator simply won’t bother to call you anymore. I subbed in a district with 200 subs once, as did my fiance … he said no twice in a row and was never called again. Get to know the district you sub in before you make this choice!

      • a mom says:

        That’s a bummer. Where I teach in SC, you could get away with this. We have our favorite subs that we call over and over again. Our faves can sub everyday if they wanted to but they can certainly say no and we call them again. We have one great sub that only subs on Fridays and she gets called almost every Friday. We can take a risk and put a sub request in the district’s on-line automated system or we can call our own favorite sub(s) and ask if they are available. If yes, we get our secretary to enter that name into the system for that day and then the person’s name is taken out of the pool of available subs for that day in the system. Our secretary is so awesome that she will even call through a list of school faves for you on last minute’s notice when you are sick instead of just opening it up to the system.

        When I lived in Jacksonville, FL I subbed. There were 500 elementary schools in the school district. I often said no to schools that were too far away or to one school in particular that I subbed at a few times and didn’t care for. I would get called back again the same night for another school the next day. I subbed every day that I wanted to (which was every day —we were flat broke, unless I absolutely couldn’t–doctor’s appt or something–had no kids yet). Then I landed a long-term-sub job at a private school. They had a different spring break than the public schools so I was able to sub for a week in the public schools while on break from my long term sub job even though I hadn’t subbed in the public schools in 6 weeks.

        I guess it all depends on where you live!

  • Emily Kay says:

    I’m not sure sharing a babysitter would work for those of us with several small children. We went on a double-date recently and our friends left their only son with our three and our sitter had her hands FULL! I’m not sure she’d be willing to do it again (even though we both paid her…I think she made $50 for 3 hours) because four children three and under were a bit of a challenge. 🙂

    • Emily Kay says:

      But it all works out. We budget for childcare every month and go on dates about every other week. On months money is tighter we either skip a date or suck up to my parents until they agree to watch our terrors. 😉

  • Sometimes we just sneak free time when our kids have after school activities. There’s nothing like a good babysit swap with people you trust.

  • Nicole says:

    I want to hug my babysitter after reading these replies! She comes and watches my son for a good chunk of the day while I go do a week’s worth of homework (I’m a grad student) and my husband works. I can’t pay her what I think she’s worth, even in our super-low cost of living area.
    She’s a college kid going in to elementary education, though, so she sees it as real world experience that really will help her practice her craft. She loves my kid, I am really flexible with our schedule and I write amazing letters of recommendation–it’s a trade-off.
    But, she is getting an awesome Christmas present to make up for some of the difference!

  • WOW! I got paid $12-15/ hour for 3 kids, and I think that was low. Rates are MUCH higher here in Dallas! Where do you live? $5/hour is a steal!

    • liz says:

      We live in kansas…$5 an hour is pretty low anywhere but teenagers are probably the main ones who will go that low. Our babysitter is 15 and she said she only charged $5 an hour. She was too young to get an actual job but she’s also responsible and mature for her age. Since our son was asleep whenever she babysat, it was a pretty good deal for her. She could watch tv or do homework while getting paid to do it. If she was watching him during the day we would obviously pay her more for that. She also lived right below us so there wasn’t any transportation to factor into it. 🙂 It REALLY depends on the location and the individual situation.

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