Valentine's Day Babysitting
(9 Tips Sitters Need to Know)
Valentine's Day is one of the most in-demand times of the year for parents to hire babysitters. You want to get your plans all sorted out weeks in advance.
What do babysitters need to know about working on Valentine’s Day? Babysitters are in high demand on Valentine’s Day. You'll want to lock in a job early and consider a backup plan too. You can charge a higher rate on this day, but also expect parents to get home a bit late.
In this article, I'll share the do's and don'ts of babysitting on Valentine's Day. As well as how to make sure that you're getting paid what you're worth!
Valentine's Day Babysitting
After New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day is the second-most-popular day of the year for parents to hire a babysitter (source).
One of the families that you regularly babysit for will likely want to hire you for Valentine's Day.
But in the off-chance that they don't, there are plenty of families who will be looking for a new one-time sitter.
You might even use this as an opportunity to show how nice it is to have a night away to parents who don't regularly hire a babysitter. That way you might be able to set yourself up for some more recurring work. So try your best to make a good impression if you're working for a new family.
Whatever your strategy is, you'll want to get all of your ducks in a row, well before Valentine's Day rolls around.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Put the Word Out Early
You'll probably want to offer to babysit for your most frequent or favorite family on Valentine's Day.
Not everyone will go out on Valentine's Day though. Especially if it falls in the middle of the week.
In case you find yourself in that situation, you'll want to leave yourself lots of time to find another family to babysit for.
So offer it to your regular families first as a courtesy. But let them know that if they aren't sure or can't commit, then you'll need to start looking for another family who is interested that night.
Since Valentine's Day is such an in-demand date for babysitters, there's not really such a thing as asking too early. Trying to lock in your Valentine's Day gig a month in advance is perfectly acceptable.
If you're babysitting on New Year's Eve, you might even want to mention Valentine's Day when you go to leave. Parents might not have an answer for you right away, but it will start to get them thinking about it at least. There's a good chance that a parent who books a babysitter for New Year's Eve will also want a night out on Valentine's Day too.
Make sure to read my tips for babysitting on New Year’s Eve too.
Charge More on Valentine's Day
During peak times, ride services like Uber and Lyft charge higher "surge rates" when they are most in demand.
A good babysitter should do the same thing to maximize how much they're earning on busy dates like Valentine's Day.
As a general rule, I recommend that babysitters charge time and a half on holidays. You might be giving up a lot to babysit on Valentine's Day, including passing on a romantic evening with a loved one of your own.
So take your normal rate and multiply it by 1.5. If you normally charge $15 per hour, you would charge $22.50 instead. Obviously, be sure to communicate this higher rate to parents in advance.
Not sure what your normal rate should be? Check out my article Babysitting Pay Rates (How Much Should You Charge?) for the answer.
However, I recommend asking parents and letting them suggest a rate that they think would be fair first. Some parents are willing to pay their sitter double their regular rate on special occasions. They could always offer an amount higher than what you would suggest. So let them toss out a number first before you start negotiating.
You might even take offers from multiple different families and play them off each other, waiting to see who is willing to offer you the highest rate before accepting. But don't leave them hanging too long, or they'll find another babysitter if you don't give them an answer. So it's a fine balance.
Money isn't absolutely everything though. You'll also want to take other factors into consideration. Like how many children a family has, how well behaved (or not) they are, and how you get along with the parents. It might not be worth an extra $2 per hour if you feel like you'll need to be doing twice as much work.
Share the Love – Babysit for Multiple FamiliesHolidays like Valentine's Day present a unique opportunity where lots of parents are all looking for a babysitter at the same time. So you can give them an opportunity to share a babysitter.
It's a win-win situation for both parents and babysitters. Since you aren't offering one-on-one attention for their kids, you can offer to charge them less than the standard holiday rate of 1.5 times your regular rate. However, you can still usually justify charging a few dollars per hour more than normal. Having multiple families pay you for the same time slot will more than make up for it.
You can open up your home for the entire evening and make things flexible for parents. They can drop off their kids and pick them up whenever works best for them, depending on their plans for the night.
Make a fun night of it for the kids too. Have some Valentine's Day candy, like cinnamon hearts and Hershey's Kisses on hand. Make a special dinner for them all. And then spend the evening making Valentine's Day cards or other crafts.
If you're willing to babysit 4 or 5 kids at a time, you can easily make $300 in a single night!
As long as Valentine's Day doesn't fall on a school night, you could also offer to hold a sleepover. Parents can drop off their kids and don't have to pick them up until the next morning, allowing for some rare alone time.
Don't expect to get much sleep. But you can charge a flat rate of $100 per child or more for the night.
Don't forget to check my Babysitting From Home (Pros, Cons, Laws & Requirements) article if it's something you've never done before.
Offer Alternative Dates
For some people, Valentine's Day must be celebrated on February 14th.
Personally, I find cramming into a fully-booked restaurant on the actual day a bit overrated. Many other parents are likely to have the same opinion.
Even if you're booked on Valentine's Day itself by the time a parent asks, you can always offer to babysit the day before or the day after.
You might not be able to charge 1.5 times your normal rate when it's not on the actual holiday, but it's still an extra babysitting gig that you may not have otherwise had.
Lots of parents will appreciate not having to struggle to find a private table at their favorite restaurant, or being surrounded by other noisy couples on their special day.
You can get really creative with it. Why does it have to be a romantic dinner? Why not offer to come to babysit early in the morning so that parents can go out for a nice brunch together without the kids instead?
There are lots of less traditional Valentine's Day options that might lead to extra babysitting gigs for you if you suggest them.
Don't Cancel at the Last Minute
If it's not clear yet, Valentine's Day is kind of a big deal to lots of parents. It's a nice excuse once a year to spend an evening away from the kids where they can have a romantic dinner and talk about something other than the kids.
So if you cancel at the last minute and ruin something they've been looking forward to for months, parents are going to be very unhappy with you!
Sometimes you'll find yourself too sick to babysit or something outside of your control. But if at all possible, avoid canceling a Valentine's Day babysitting job if at all possible.
How sick is too sick to babysit? My article Should you Babysit when Sick? (How to Manage Parent Expectations) has the answer.
If you do have to cancel, try to give parents as much notice as possible. Trying to find a replacement babysitter at the last moment is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Do you have other friends who also babysit? You might try asking around if any of them are available, and suggesting them as a replacement when you cancel to help soften the blow.
Avoid Contacting Parents During the Job
Most of the time, parents are happy for you to call or text if you've got a question while you're babysitting. Especially in the beginning when you're just getting started, and aren't familiar with the specific rules and situation in their home.
However, on Valentine's Day, I recommend that you avoid contacting parents unless absolutely necessary.
It's one night of the year where parents just want to forget about their kids for a few hours and rekindle their relationship with their partner. Constantly getting contacted by their babysitter could really ruin the mood.
They might be in a fancy restaurant where it wouldn't be appropriate to have their phone ring or to answer their phone at the table. They might just be doing something that they don't want to be interrupted! Or they might have their phone set to silent and not be reachable at all.
So don't contact parents on the job unless absolutely necessary on Valentine's Day. That means you have more power to make whatever decisions you think are best, and you can always justify them later. You don't need to contact parents unless it's an emergency or something that involves their child's safety and wellbeing.
Parents Could Come Home Late
Service at restaurants can be slower on Valentine's Day since they are so busy. Parents might also just be enjoying themselves and lose track of time as well.
It doesn't necessarily matter who is at fault for them getting back late. Just realize that Valentine's Day is a special day, and parents want to make the most of it.
If you set the expectation of them getting back a couple of hours later than discussed, then you won't be disappointed or worried when they don't show up on time. As long as you get paid for the extra hours that you work, I wouldn't bring it up.
Since there's a good chance of parents getting home late, I would advise against making your own Valentine's Day plans with a loved one for after your babysitting job is done.
You don't want to be stressing and looking at the clock because you've got dinner plans of your own. You'll make it a lot easier on yourself if you schedule your own Valentine's Day plans the day before or after.
Be sure to read my article What To Do If Parents Are Late Home? (4 Tips For Babysitters) for some additional information.
Parents Could Come Home Drunk
Be prepared for parents to come home drunk as well. When you have kids, there's less opportunity to really let loose and drink for parents like when they were younger. So they might overindulge and have a bit too much wine. Or their tolerance might just be a bit lower than they remember if they haven't consumed alcohol in a while.
Don't be alarmed if parents seem a bit silly, loud, or generally acting a bit strange when they get home. They might just be a bit drunk.
It can be a bit scary to see a grown-up who is a bit tipsy for the first time, but they are generally harmless. As long as at least one of them still seems sober enough to look after their kids once you leave, it will be okay.
Consider a Backup or Cancellation Fee
Having a family cancel on you as the babysitter can be just as annoying as when it's the other way around.
Parents might decide that they're too sick to go out, or just not feel like going out and decide to stay at home with the family.
In the process, they might cancel one of your most profitable babysitting jobs of the year.
To help deal with this risk, you might make a special arrangement with parents when it comes to canceling on Valentine's Day. Asking to get paid 50% of what you would've been paid if you had worked is fair if they cancel within one week of the day.
Since babysitters are so in demand for Valentine's Day, you shouldn't have a hard time finding another job as long as you get notified that they're canceling a week or more in advance. If they cancel a couple of days before, you might be left without work for the night though.
Some parents will look for backup babysitters, just in case their main babysitter cancels on them. So you may want to offer to be a backup for multiple families, just in case you need a second job to fall back on.
If you do find that your babysitting plans have been canceled at the last moment, you can try to reach out to family and friends to see if they can put you in touch with anyone who needs a babysitter.
Posting on your social media is a great way to reach lots of people who might know someone who wants to hire you at the last minute. You can also try posting to local parent groups to see if anyone needs a last-minute sitter.
Valentine's Day isn't like a couple's anniversary, where they all fall on different days.
Since everyone is trying to get a babysitter for the same night, you're in-demand and there might not be enough babysitters to go around.
That means you should charge a higher rate than usual. I recommend time and a half, but you might even be able to get away with charging double your regular rate if you're a good negotiator.
You want to book your Valentine's Day client early, and then have a backup plan in case they cancel on you.
If you really want to make some good money on Valentine's Day, you may consider group childcare and watching children for multiple families at once. Make sure you're experienced enough to look after them all though.
Be prepared for parents to get home late, and maybe even a bit drunk. For many couples, Valentine's Day is one of the few times each year that they can get away from their kids for a few hours.
Aside from that, babysitting on Valentine's Day is much like any other job. You can really create a special day for kids with some Valentine's themed crafts and activities.
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