With Babysitter Costs on the Rise, Here Are Tips for Sneaking in Affordable Date Nights

How much are you paying for a sitter?

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: ONOKY - Eric Audras

ONOKY - Eric Audras

We’ve seen price hikes in just about every place we shop–from food and clothes to big-ticket items like cars and houses. However, parents are also noticing that the price of a babysitter has increased as well. Whether you’re hiring a sitter during the day or planning a date night with your partner, be prepared to spend more for childcare.

According to a new survey from UrbanSitter, parents saw an 11% rate hike in 2021 for babysitting prices. This is in contrast to the rates rising just 3.9% from 2019 to 2020. To put those percentages into dollars, the national average rate for child care is $20.57 an hour for one child, $23.25 an hour for two, and $24.35 an hour for three kids. Of course this varies by city–New York City has the highest average rates of $23.45 an hour for one child, and is closely followed by the San Francisco area where the going rate for a sitter is $23.32. In third place is Seattle with $21.23 an hour for one child.

There are a number of factors to why we’re paying top dollar for sitters, from inflation to an increased need for sitters, but experts say it could also be that families are able to hire sitters with more experience and skills.

"Over the past two years (we’ve seen) a big increase in nurses, teachers (and) early childhood education specialists leaving those roles," Lynn Perkins, chief executive officer of UrbanSitter told NBC news. "As they’re coming into the child care field and working for families one on one, they’re able to charge a much higher rate because they’re bringing this set of skills with them."

While we agree that childcare workers should be paid what they deserve, it can put a strain on the family budget to add additional hours of care — especially for date nights. If the price of a babysitter doesn’t fit into your budget, here are a few creative ways to steal a few child-free hours with your partner.

  • Planning date night at home may not be ideal, but with a little creativity, you can get some quality time with your partner and that doesn't include cutting up your kids' chicken nuggets. Need some inspiration for at-home date ideas? Here are six of our favorite date night details.
  • If you and your partner have the same work schedule during the day, try scheduling a lunch date. If your children are already being cared for by a sitter or are at school or daycare, use your lunch break as a day date.
  • Swap kids with a friend or relative. Offer to keep their kids while they go out and then let them return the favor. This way everyone gets a night out and your kids get two playdates.
  • Check your area for kids' nights. Often businesses like gyms or kids programs will offer a kids night where they entertain and feed the kids and you get the chance to sneak in a date night. While you’ll have to pay for your kids to attend, the cost may be less than paying for a sitter.
  • Ask family if they are willing to hang out with your kids. You may need to be flexible with the times you’re able to leave your kids, but if you find a free sitter in a family member — go for it!
  • Ask neighbors for teenagers who babysit. It’s a great way for them to make money and gain experience and if you have older kids, it’s a great way for you to be able to get a date night in.

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