When I was a kid, I remember my parents getting dressed up and going out with their friends every New Year's Eve, while us kids stayed home with a babysitter. I wanted to continue that tradition, but when I researched New Year's Eve child care options the tradition died. I, sadly, discovered that while my partner and I make a decent living, we can't afford to pay the going rate. I asked other moms how much they're spending on a New Year's Eve babysitter and learned that I was totally not alone in this experience. In fact, most of the moms I asked plan to stay home, unless they can get grandma to watch their kids for free, because rates are too expensive.
According to Urban Sitter, families generally expect to pay about 20 percent more for a New Year's Eve babysitter than they do for date nights other times of year. Average rates vary in different parts of the country, with the national average being $17.88 per hour for one child and $19.78 per hour for more than one child. Parents in New York City expect higher than average rates at $18.81 - $24.06 per hour, as do families in San Francisco at $18.91 - $22.36 per hour. Parents in Denver, however, expect to pay $14.14 - $17.00 per hour, which is much lower than the national average. In addition to the cost of a babysitting alone, 80 percent of parents report that they offer perks like cab rides or dinner to their New Year's Eve sitters, and 46 percent tip them generously to sweeten the deal.
If these rates seem high, it's because they totally are, especially when you consider that according to SmartAssets the average millennial only makes $17.10 per hour themselves. So what's a mom to do if they can't afford to pay for a sitter? According to the ones I consulted, they stay home, bring their kids along to child-friendly gatherings, host parties, or rely on family to help. Others have decided to capitalize on others' generosity by babysitting themselves. I totally wish I had thought of that, because damn, extra money would be nice this time of year. It seems that what was once commonplace — a child-free New Year's — is now a privilege few families can afford.
If you are wondering how much to pay your holiday sitter, or curious about what other moms are paying, get ready to endure a serious case of sticker shock:
"We pay $17 per hour for two kids for a teacher from our kids' daycare."
"We have five kids at home, and I’m working that night, but based on what we have paid babysitters in the past, it would cost us $125."
"We go to a friend's house and send all the kids to my house with my dad. If there are a lot of little ones we will get a preteen-aged helper and pay about $10 per hour."
"Our babysitter is 15, so New Year's Eve is a pretty normal night for her, in that she would not be going out to party and we aren’t really keeping her from anything. I have two kids, ages 2 and 5 months. We will pick her up at 7:00 p.m., and our son goes to bed at about 8:00 p.m. He will have already had dinner. We will pay her $10 an hour, and provide dinner from a restaurant of her choice. We also have a tradition of getting her a Starbucks when she babysits. We will be home by 1:00 a.m."
"Nothing. I'm staying home, drinking, and watching the ball drop on TV, while the kids attempt to stay awake."
"We're spending $0 by going to an early event in downtown Raleigh, NC, and taking the babies with me, and then home to relax. I have two under 2."
"I’m not going out, but my close friend is a preschool teacher. She babysits frequently on the weekends. She charges $15 per hour for two children, and $20 for 3-4. We are in central MA. Rates in Boston are double or triple in central or western MA. I can’t afford my friend's rates, and I honestly don’t feel comfortable letting my children stay with a babysitter just yet. They can’t talk yet and if someone hurts them I need them to be able to tell me."
"In the past, my husband and I have done Bourbon Street at midnight on New Year's Eve, so we used to go all out, but these days are a little different. Hubs and I had the opportunity to utilize our daycare's 'Parents' Night Out' event this past Saturday. Grand plans included going to a fancy dinner, or maybe heading out to see the new Star Wars movie. Instead, he played poker on his computer and I took a two-hour bath, so we're being frugal and saving our wild and crazy ways for a cheaper evening."
"We’ve invited a few friends to our house. Plenty of time for adult fun after the kids go to bed. We’re all about having a good time as cheaply as possible."
"Our sitter is amazing. We would offer $80 and the guest room. A regular night out we pay $60."
"Either she goes to grandma's or grandma is busy, and we don't go out. But, even if we did go out, I go home early because sleep is better."
"I can't afford a babysitter, but I was the babysitter up until a few months ago and I got paid $8 - $12 an hour to babysit two kids, with no special rate for holidays. One family I babysit for pays me between $20 - $40 to watch their two kids. I think they just hand me a bunch of cash, because the hourly rate isn't consistent but it's never below $20, so I'm OK with it."
"$100 straight up for one kid. My babysitter wears wings and a halo."
"We can't afford the rates for New Year's, I've seen it up to $30 an hour here in central Indiana, but it seems to average $20. If we go somewhere, we make sure that we trust the person, and that they have a spare room we can put kiddo in when she taps out. We never go 'out' out."
"I’m staying in and going to bed as early as possible."
"It would cost us over $500 for the night starting at 6:00 p.m. to the next morning by 8:30 a.m."
"$50 for three hours to hire a non-professional young adult. We're about 45 min south of Seattle. In a city area like ours, I shudder to think what a professional would cost. We wouldn't even do it if it wasn't my birthday."
"We have some decent parents' night out programs near us, through the YMCA and military base that would let us at least have New Year's Eve dinner out, but they don't take kids with special needs (officially everyone does, but once you get into the nitty gritty details of it, no one does)."
"I pay for daycare during the week, which essentially means I'm way too broke to pay for someone to watch my kid during non-work hours. Unlike while I'm at work, that's money out and no money in. I'll be staying home and watching TV in bed, with my kiddos, while we eat a cheese plate."
"I'm not paying for a sitter, but will be babysitting for $12 an hour for three kids."
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