Valentine's Day might be one of the few "date nights" each year where you get a chance to leave the kids at home for a romantic evening with your partner.
You'll want to work out babysitting arrangements well in advance to avoid having to cancel.
What should parents know about hiring a babysitter for Valentine's Day? You should book your babysitter early to secure them before someone else does, and have a backup sitter if necessary. Expect to pay 1.5 times the standard rate as Valentine's Day is one of the busiest days of the year for babysitters, they are in high demand.
In this article, I'll explain how early to book your babysitter. As well as what costs to expect, what to do if you can't find a sitter, and more.
Valentine's Day Babysitter Factors to Keep in Mind
You'll make a dinner reservation at your favorite restaurant for Valentine's Day and order your flowers weeks in advance.
All of your plans will fall through if you haven't got a babysitter to watch your kids though!
Statistics of when the average parent has been on a romantic date range from about 2 months all the way up to three years depending on who you ask!
That's why it's important to get your babysitting arrangements sorted out well in advance. You want to make sure everything is perfect if it's the first special evening if you've had in a while. And it might be the last one for some time to come!
Getting a sitter on Valentine's Day can be extra tricky. It's the second-busiest day of the year for hiring a babysitter after New Year's Eve. Lots of other parents have the exact same great idea to make Valentine's Day into a date night, and you'll be competing with them for babysitters.
You shouldn't worry though. It mostly comes down to planning. So if you can book your babysitter well in advance, everything should go smoothly for you.
Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Book Your Babysitter Early
Book early! If there's one thing that you need to take away, it's this!
It's totally normal to book your Valentine's Day babysitter weeks or even a month in advance.
If you don't, someone else probably will!
Do you already have a regular babysitter? Then asking them if they're available on Valentine's Day is the easiest way to go.
But if they aren't available or already have plans of their own, then you'll need to start looking elsewhere. So give yourself ample time to look for alternatives.
Maybe it's been a while since you've had to hire a babysitter, or maybe it's your first time. Then you should definitely check out my article How to Find a Reliable Babysitter You Can Trust!
You can look on a babysitting website, ask family and friends for recommendations, or check with a local parent group.
Set Your Cost Expectations
Hiring a babysitter for Valentine's Day or other holidays can be expensive.
After all, there are a bunch of other parents who all want a night out on the same evening. So there is lots of competition when it comes to finding someone to watch your kids.
Many babysitters will get multiple inquiries from parents who want to hire them for Valentine's Day. For this reason, they tend to charge a higher rate for such a special occasion.
Babysitter costs vary from city to city. Start off by getting a base rate from my article Babysitter Pay Rates (The Complete Guide for Parents)
Once you've got a base rate for your city, I recommend multiplying that amount by 1.5.
So if a babysitter typically charges $16 per hour in your city, I would expect to pay $24 per hour on Valentine's Day.
In other words, expect to pay at least $100 for an evening of babysitting on Valentine's Day
Rates can vary from as little as 10% higher than regular prices, all the way up to double the standard costs. I think 1.5 times is a good competitive rate to ensure that you have a babysitter for the night.
Of course you might get lucky and find a babysitter who is only charging their regular rate for Valentine's Day. But what happens if someone else comes along and offers them more money than you?
I certainly wouldn't blame them for canceling on their original offer for a chance to earn an extra $8 per hour or more! So it's best to play it safe and offer your sitter a competitive rate up front. That way you minimize the chances of them getting poached from you.
Plan Some Activities for Your Kids
Valentine's Day is just as exciting for kids as it is for adults. Probably even more so!
Do you remember Valentine's Day as a kid?
Maybe your entire class made little mailboxes to put on your desk, and then everyone gave Valentine's Day cards to each other.
You got to eat candies with things like "Be mine" or "True love" written on them.
For kids that are a bit older, there might start to be rumors about who has a crush on who!
Chances are your kids will have their own Valentine's Day activities at school. There's no reason that you can't continue that fun into the evening too. Even if you're heading out for the night and leaving them with a babysitter.
Find some fun Valentine's Day crafts they can work on, and provide them with all of the materials that they need. It might be cutting out paper hearts, making a card to share how much they love their mom and dad, or baking some heart-shaped cookies.
Avoid Coming Home Late or Drunk
If you don't get a chance to get out for a romantic evening with your partner very often, it can be tempting to overindulge or make the moment last for as long as possible.
Try to be courteous and respect your babysitter though.
If you're going to be late, it's best practice to at least call them or send a text to let them know. That way they won't worry that something is wrong if you're an hour or two late. Always pay them for any additional time that they work. You may also want to tip them a bit extra for the inconvenience too.
Likewise, dealing with an intoxicated grown-up can be awkward and uncomfortable for younger babysitters. So try to avoid putting them in a situation where they have to see you like that!
You can always have a glass or two of wine with dinner, and then break out the bottles again once you get home and the kids are in bed.
7 Valentine's Day Date Night Ideas for Parents
Not feeling like the traditional romantic dinner and roses for Valentine's Day?
If you have kids, you might be a bit out of practice when it comes to picking date night ideas. So I've put together a little list to help inspire you!
You don't have to pick the cliché romantic evening. As long as it's something that both you and your partner will enjoy and you're spending some time together, that's all that matters. In fact, picking something that appeals to your specific personalities is encouraged!
Having a night of painting and wine is a fun activity for women to do with their girlfriends. But it also makes a great couples activity too! You can both laugh at how atrocious your artistic skills are. Or perhaps one of you will secretly turn out to be the next Bob Ross.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to hit up the nearest frozen lake to use as your own private ice rink in the middle of February. In warmer locations, you may need to use an ice rink in an arena.
Some rinks may have an open skate for couples on Valentine's Day where you can just show up. Other times you may need to book private ice time. So be sure to check in advance.
A Comedy Show
"Laughter is the language of the soul," according to poet and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Pablo Neruda.
Going to a comedy show is a great option for a fun and light-hearted evening with your sweetheart.
The couple that laughs together, stays together!
Many comedy clubs have special Valentine's Day events on offer.
A Ghost Tour
If you don't feel like laughing on Valentine's Day, what about getting scared? A ghost tour is guaranteed to have your partner clinging tightly to your arm!
Many old cities offer ghost tours on nearly every day of the year. Some places even offer a combined ghost tour and brewery tour. So you can sample beer and wine while also learning about some spooky history.
Visit A Museum
Museums and art galleries often hold after-hours events on special occasions like Valentine's Day, complete with champagne and chocolates.
It can make for a sophisticated evening with no chance of kids running around.
However, make sure that your partner appreciates the arts or it may be a bit of a bore for them.
A Sports Game
Some couples are avid sports fans. So your idea of the ideal night together might be going to a soccer, basketball, or hockey game together.
Just like a museum isn't a great date for people who don't like history and art, going to a game obviously isn't a fun time for those with no interest in sports. So don't use this as an excuse for you to go see a match under the guise of love if your partner is going to hate it!
An Escape Room
If you're looking to really test the communication skills in your relationship, what could be better than getting locked in a room alone together for an hour or two?
Okay, this might sound like a nightmare for some couples. But if your partner prides themselves on their intelligence and puzzle-solving analytical skills, this might be just what you're looking for.
What if You Can't Find a Valentine's Day Babysitter?
You might've left things too late. Now you're reading this advice about booking early and feeling like finding a babysitter will be hopeless.
Or maybe your babysitter canceled on you at the last minute because they were sick.
Don't give up! You can still make a last-ditch effort by calling around to all of your family and friends to see if they know someone. Or you could post on social media to try and find someone.
Maybe you could convince a niece or nephew or the teenager next door to babysit, even if it's not something they normally do.
For a few more options, check out my article Can't Find A Babysitter? (Try Our 13 Sitter Alternatives.)
If you are well and truly out of options, then it's time to accept that you'll be spending Valentine's Day at home and cancel any other reservations you've made.
That doesn't mean that you can't still have a special night at home with your family though!
Valentine's Day Ideas if You're Stuck at Home
You've still got plenty of creative options for celebrating Valentine's Day at home if you can't find a babysitter.
Just because you can't take your screaming toddler to a fancy restaurant, that doesn't mean that you can't prepare a romantic meal.
Lots of higher-end restaurants are doing takeout nowadays. So you could always pick up your meal of choice and bring it home. You can always grab your little one a Happy Meal on the way home for their dinner, since they probably aren't a fan of oysters or rare steak!
Making your own Valentine's Day dinner is always an option too. Splurge on some fancy pasta and luxurious ingredients that you wouldn't normally buy. Even with expensive ingredients, a fancy meal that you prepare yourself will likely still end up being cheaper than a meal out.
Valentine's Day can be a nice excuse for everyone to get off their phones and tablets and spend some quality time together too. Why not try out a family board game night? It might turn into a weekly tradition! Or you can grab some snacks and wine and have a movie night with Netflix or Amazon Prime.
It Doesn't Have to Be Dinner
No babysitter? No problem!
Why not spend Valentine's Day together while the kids are at school or daycare?
It is called Valentine's Day, not Valentine's Night after all!
If you work from home and set your own hours it's easy enough. If not, you can try to take the day off or get out of the office for an extended lunch break.
You can go for a couple's brunch or breakfast after you drop them off at school. There's no reason why romantic Valentine's Day meals have to be restricted to supper! Maybe you can follow it up with a couple's massage or some other Valentine's Day activity.
A Valentine's Day lunch is an option that even two working parents can usually make work. Pick a restaurant that's midway between both of your jobs to maximize the time that you can spend with each other.
It can even be a Chinese food buffet if that's all you've got available. It doesn't have to be a five-star French or Italian restaurant. What's important is getting some time to spend as a couple and enjoy a conversation away from your kids from time to time.
The obvious other option: You don't necessarily have to celebrate Valentine's Day on February 14th. You might want to make things easier on everyone and plan your romantic evening for a couple of days earlier or later. This makes every part of the process less stressful, from booking babysitters to tables at restaurants.
Getting a babysitter for Valentine's Day can be challenging if you leave it until the last minute.
Book your sitter at least a couple of weeks early to guarantee that you'll have someone to watch your kids while you head out for a romantic evening. I recommend booking your babysitter before making dinner reservations or any other plan!
Expect to pay your babysitter more than their usual rate on Valentine's Day. It's one of the days of the year where babysitters are in highest demand. Offering them 1.5 times their regular rate is a good way to ensure they don't flake on you or cancel for a better offer.
Even if you can't find a babysitter for Valentine's Day, that's no reason to panic.
There are lots of great activities that you can do at home as a family, or after you put your child to bed.
If dinner isn't an option, you might also consider alternatives like a Valentine's Day breakfast or lunch while your child is in school or daycare.
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