So you need a babysitter for the weekend. Should you pay them an hourly rate or a flat fee for the entire time? What is a reasonable rate?
How much should you pay a babysitter for a weekend? It's most common to pay a babysitter their regular hourly rate during the day, and a flat amount overnight while the kids are asleep. But ultimately it's up to you and your babysitter to come to an agreement of what makes sense for your specific situation.
In this article, I'll discuss some different options you have for paying your babysitter to stay over for the weekend.
Hiring A Babysitter For The Weekend
When I talk about hiring a babysitter for the weekend, perhaps it's best to clarify exactly what I mean.
By babysitting for the weekend, I'm imagining that your babysitter comes over Friday evening and watches the kids while you're gone until Saturday or Sunday night. Basically, they'll be in charge of your kids for at least 24 hours.
When it comes to babysitting sessions on the weekend during a regular 9 to 5 day or for one evening, I would treat it the same as any other time that you'd hire a babysitter. Pay them the same regular rate that they'd receive if they babysat during the week.
I don't give any premium for sitters just because they are working on a weekend.
For the most part, I only give special rates for holidays like New Year's Eve. See my article How To Hire A Babysitter For New Year's Eve (Cost & Requirements) for more details on that.
So the real question that you need to ask yourself is: Will your babysitter be staying overnight? That's a special situation where it gets a bit tricky deciding on how to pay them.
Paying Your Babysitter For The Weekend – Flat Rate or Hourly?
When it comes to paying your sitter for the weekend, there are a bunch of different ways that you could structure it. Most will take into account how many hours your kids are awake, and when they're asleep.
No matter how you decide to pay your babysitter, it's important that you talk to them in advance so they know exactly what the agreement is. You don't want to come home and find they expected to earn their regular rate for every hour you were gone, even when they were asleep!
Pay A Flat Fee For The Entire Time
Perhaps the easiest way to pay your sitter for the weekend is just to offer them one flat amount. Then there's no math involved, and both parties know exactly what they're getting up front.
All you have to agree on is a flat rate for the entire time or each day. For example, you may pay $150 per day, or $300 for the entire weekend.
Generally this is quite a simple and straightforward agreement. Although you could run into problems if your transportation gets delayed and you arrive home a few hours later than intended. In that case, you could always just pay the sitter for a few extra hours at their regular rate though.
Pay A Flat (or Reduced) Rate During Bedtime
This is probably the most common way to pay a weekend babysitter. They earn their regular hourly rate for the hours that they're awake and actively watching the kids. Then you pay them a reduced rate or flat rate for the time that kids are asleep.
Some people will pay their sitter a reduced overnight rate, usually about half their regular rate.
Personally I would go with a flat rate instead. That way you avoid either party being petty about exactly when the kids went to sleep at night and when they woke up in the morning. Plus any times the sitter had to wake up in the night to get them a glass of water or put them back to bed.
If you can agree with your babysitter to a flat nightly rate like $50 while the kids are asleep, that can cover everything. Then you know upfront what you're paying whether your kids sleep through the whole night or wake up multiple times.
Instead of leaving your kids with a sitter while you take a mini-vacation, have you considered taking the kids with you? My article Vacation Babysitters (12 Tips for Relaxing Family Holidays) will explain how it could be easier than you think!
Pay Based On What Makes Sense For The Work Required
If you're feeling really generous, you could always offer to pay your sitter their regular rate for the entire weekend. From the babysitter's perspective, this is a dream and basically their best-case scenario!
This could get prohibitively expensive though! For a 48 hour period from Friday evening to Sunday evening, you'd be looking at paying your sitter $720!
Don't feel bad if you can't offer your sitter this kind of rate. Not many parents would be able to.
However, there are a few situations where you may consider paying a sitter for their regular rate at all hours, or at least close to it.
It all depends on how much of a hassle your kids will be during the night.
If your children are little angels that consistently sleep from 9 pm to 9 am every night, then you shouldn't feel that you need to compensate your sitter that much for staying over.
However, if your kid has night terrors, wets the bed, or has other special needs that require extra work from the sitter, then it's only fair to pay them a bit extra for their work.
What should your regular babysitter pay rate be anyway? Read my article Babysitter Pay Rates (The Complete Guide for Parents) to find out!
Should You Provide Food If Your Babysitter Stays For The Weekend
Yes, if your sitter is staying for the weekend I feel that you should provide food for them.
For most other jobs you'd be expected to bring your own meals. But babysitting is a bit different, since they're also going to need to prepare meals for your kids anyway.
Usually, I just consider this as a perk to the job, and don't take it into account when deciding how much to pay a babysitter for the weekend.
The easiest option when it comes to feeding your kids and babysitter is to prepare premade meals in advance. You can fully cook them and pop them into the refrigerator or freezer. Then all your babysitter needs to do is warm it up again. Almost any babysitter should be able to do that, regardless of cooking skill.
If your babysitter knows their way around the kitchen, you may also give them the freedom to make their own meals. You can give them some options like hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, chicken fingers and fries, waffles, or any number of other simple recipes.
Try to pick recipes with only a few ingredients that are quick to make and easy to clean up after.
If your babysitter is staying for the full weekend, you may also want to leave them some money for takeout for at least one of the meals while you're gone. Letting your babysitter order in a pizza is a winning recipe that will garner a lot of favor with your sitter and kids alike. Think of it as a little bonus for your babysitter working overtime.
How Old Should An Overnight Babysitter Be? Be sure to read through my article on that topic to find out before putting a sitter in charge of your kids for the weekend!
There is some flexibility when it comes to how much to pay a babysitter for the weekend.
Generally babysitters expect to earn a lower rate or flat rate overnight. They know they'll mostly be sleeping during that time, and will usually only need to briefly wake up once or twice at most.
Personally I find it easiest to agree to a flat rate for the entire weekend with my babysitter upfront. Then both of us know exactly how much to expect to pay or receive at the end. But your personal situation may be different, so figure out an arrangement that makes sense for you and your sitter!
What Info do you Leave for a Babysitter?
(Plus Parent Checklist)
How Old Should An Overnight Babysitter Be?
(12 Tips for Relaxing Family Holidays)
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The Perfect Gift For Your Babysitter
My book, Babysitting Business Secrets, is out now as an inexpensive ebook or full-color paperback. If your babysitter is serious about becoming the best sitter they can be, then this book is perfect for them. I reveal all my tricks and tips for first-time babysitters or experienced sitters who just want to up their game. Get your copy today!
- Matthew Taylor, Kidsit Founder