Now that the giving season is almost here, it's time to start thinking not only about our closest family and friends, but also about the people who provide valuable services to us throughout the year. For example, it's customary to give a token of appreciation to hair stylists, dog walkers, and newspaper carriers, but you might be wondering what to tip a daycare worker for the holidays.
Etiquette experts agree that while it's up to the parents how much to give, a range of $25 to $70 is about right. Some people might think it odd to give extra money to someone who already gets paid for their services. But for someone like a daycare worker, it's not just about the cash. It's a way of acknowledging your gratitude. "When you use these people to make your life easier all year round and you don't tip them, what you're saying is that you don't appreciate them," etiquette expert Jodi R.R. Smith told Forbes.
Think about it: Daycare workers spend their days guiding the minds and guarding the safety of children who aren't even theirs. They fix meals, play games, supervise play yard activities, and read stories. They change diapers, clean up potty-training accidents, and sanitize every surface of their space. They dry tears, break up fights, and cope with meltdowns. They sing endless verses of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "Baby Shark" — that alone deserves a hefty chunk of change.
It's like that hilarious viral video from last year where the mom piles her shopping cart with school supplies and more for the teachers, out of sheer gratitude that she doesn't have to deal with her kids for six hours a day.
Daycare workers aren't in it for the humongous paycheck, either. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average childcare worker earns $23,760 annually. That's barely more than the average fast-food cook, and about $4,000 less than a telemarketer. That's right: The person who interrupts your dinner to invite you to a timeshare presentation is earning more money than the person whose shirt just got barfed on by your toddler.
Point made? Good. So the question remains of what to give, and how much. According to etiquette guru Emily Post, there's a big distinction between when to give a cash tip and when to give a gift. For instance, money would be an inappropriate thank-you for a teacher, since they're considered "salaried professionals." In this case, you'd want to go with something like a gift card or a small personal item, such as a scarf.
A daycare worker, on the other hand, is considered a service provider, and so a cash tip is perfectly acceptable. The Nest suggests a tip in the $25 to $70 range for each care provider who works with your child, along with a little something from your child, such as a drawing or a thank-you note. (Your care provider will cherish even a scrawled crayon doodle from a toddler.) Another guideline you could follow, added CNN Money, is to give the equivalent of one week's pay.
Another good way to gauge what people in your city typically give is to put a shout out on a parent group's message board. You'll likely get fellow moms and dads to weigh in.
Before you go to the bank, check with your daycare facility to find out their guidelines about holiday tipping. VeryWellFamily pointed out that some facilities pool all the cash tips they receive and distribute them among the employees. If that isn't what you had in mind, then you might want to opt for giving a gift card to your child's individual caregiver.
Experts all agree that while you should tip as generously as you can, you don't have to give more than you can comfortably afford. And you don't have to give both a tip and a gift, although a thank-you note is a must in either case, affirmed Emily Post. However you choose to show your gratitude, do it with a smile and a genuine appreciation for what your child's caregiver does every day. (Remember: Diapers. Tantrums. "Baby Shark.")
Season 2 of Doula Diaries shares the stories of fearless doulas helping their clients take control of their births and make tough choices that feel right to them. Watch the first episode of the new season Monday, November 26th.