Tell me about this BABYSITTING thing.
March 7, 2012 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I have some questions about babysitting.

I am a 27-year old woman with a little experience babysitting as a youngster (post college age). I am, however, the older of three children and an aunt to three wonderful kiddies that I see fairly frequently. I love kids and would be willing to watch kids any age. I have loads of job experience and non-babysitting references to offer. I have a car. I could do at least one night per weekend (Friday-Saturday), but weeknights are hard since I don't get out of work until 6 or 7pm.
  • What are the odds of me getting a steady babysitting gig?
  • What is the general range for pay? Is there a different rate for weekend nights versus weeknights?
  • What's the legality of getting paid for babysitting? I realize that getting paid "under the table" is not generally legal, but if I get a regular Friday and/or Saturday night gig, could I get in big trouble for not reporting that income?
  • What's the best website to advertise my services or look for work?
  • And what kind of information should I send? Is this a resume/cover letter type of deal? Do I need to reveal details like the fact that I have tattoos? If were a parent looking for a sitter, what would you want to know, and what are you looking for?
Any other general info about babysitting would be helpful (i.e. what to do if people refuse to pay or are otherwise dangerous/sketchy, etc) would be great. Thanks in advance!
posted by your mom's a sock puppet to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The answers to many of these questions depend very much where you live.
posted by alms at 2:48 PM on March 7, 2012

Response by poster: I live in a major metropolitan area on the east coast. Sorry!
posted by your mom's a sock puppet at 2:55 PM on March 7, 2012

Unless that regular job is bringing in some serious cash, the IRS would never notice the difference and it wont be an issue. IF you were making some serious cash from it and IF you were audited it would be a problem, but other than that it really isn't necessary.

I've always babysat through friends of friends. There's no issues with people not paying up and they're as happy to have a good sitter as you are to find a job. Most likely you could find a couple looking for someone for a weekend nigh once every two weeks so they can get out of the house.

You don't need to tell them if you have tattoos, mentioning any jobs where you've worked with kids would be good as well as CPR/ First aid certification.

If you're in a big city on the east coast I would expect at least 10 an hour probably closer to 12 and even closer to 15/20 if you're in NYC. A little more for weekends, or multiple kids.

Why do you want to babysit? Extra cash in your pocket? You really love kids? Be able to articulate your answer to any parents looking for a sitter.
posted by raccoon409 at 3:05 PM on March 7, 2012

In DC I hear of babysitters getting around 12-18 an hour.

Can you tap into a local parents' network and then ask your first clients to spread the word that you are available and reliable?
posted by semacd at 4:38 PM on March 7, 2012

I think there's an amount under which you do not have to claim income to the IRS. You should be able to find out on their website. Unless you are under the regular employment of a family with a contract, I don't think it's "under the table." Nobody is going to issue their occasional sitter a 1099 form.

$10/hour seems to be the going rate around here with higher rates for people with lots of experience/certifications. Child first aid/CPR training is a bonus.
posted by amanda at 4:41 PM on March 7, 2012

I just found out that a friend of mine (about your age) is actually my dentist's nanny -- and she got the job while still living 1000 miles away, in New York City. When I asked how she made that happen, she said she used Sitter City. Must be pretty good! Both she and my dentist are quality folks, so you'd probably be looking at a pretty good pool.
posted by Madamina at 5:59 PM on March 7, 2012

In my neighborhood in DC, you'd probably get closer to $20/hour to babysit.

If I were in your shoes, I'd see if any friends are on their neighborhood listserv and to post about you there.

If you live in DC, I'll post to my large listserv.

There are also services like and and people certainly use those because they do background checks. But generally most people that I know tend to hire through word-of-mouth for "date night" sitters.

I think that it is probably fairly normal for people to have a standing setup - like every 3rd Saturday night. But people often need spur-of-the-moment sitters.

As far as the payment, if you make under 13k, you don't have to worry about being under the table.

When I babysat as a young teenager, I never encountered parents not paying. And nowadays people might just like... PayPal you the money or something if they forgot cash or ran out of checks.
posted by k8t at 6:33 PM on March 7, 2012

I found some of my babysitting jobs through the listserv offered by my college's career center for temp work. I ended up babysitting for a lot of young families/recent grads. Does your alma mater offer something like this?
posted by kettleoffish at 8:19 PM on March 7, 2012

I'm confused by people saying she doesn't have to report this income if she makes under 13k. She stated that she has a regular job, so isn't it the combined income that counts? Otherwise people could just have a bunch of part-time jobs and never pay any income tax.
posted by parrot_person at 3:49 AM on March 8, 2012

Best answer: I'm a mom and a former nanny. So, I can confidently answer ALL of the questions! Hoorah!

- The odds of you getting a steady babysitting gig are really pretty ok. Not great, because you don't have formal experience working with kids - but you've been around kids and are just looking for one night per week or so, not a full-time nannying job. Finding a family who wants to hire you shouldn't be a problem.

- General range for pay depends on location. I've worked in New England and generally, the more rural you, the less you get paid. In Boston, $12/hr was *nothing* for an evening babysitter. In Providence, it was about average. Here, I pay our babysitter $10/hr and it's *more* than what most similar jobs pay. This also depends on experience.

- One thing you need to do right now before you try to get a job is to become certified in Infant/Child First Aid & CPR. This isn't a big deal. Contact your local Red Cross, usually they hold certification classes at hospitals once a month or so. It's usually a two or three hour class on a Saturday afternoon and then the certification is good for two years. You really absolutely need this. I wouldn't hire anyone without it and I've always kept my certification current when I've been working.

- The legality of getting paid for very occasional babysitting is generally you get paid under the table in such small amounts that you don't need to worry about it. Even my husband, who is the most above-board person on the face of the earth when it comes to taxes, is fine with this arrangement for our babysitter. If you were working full-time, or really just enough to be drawing a significant salary from this, you'd need to file taxes. This would be a much, much longer question to answer, but I've done it and you can find out how very easily by googling "nanny taxes." In short, it's much harder on your *employer* and they need to pay quite a bit to do it, so a lot of people hire on the condition that you're ok being paid under the table.

- and are the most popular websites in my rural area, but when I lived in cities, I got all of my jobs via Craigslist. Sittercity and offer background checks, which makes them more popular, but families have to pay to use them. They're free for the sitter though, so as long as you can pass a criminal background check and a credit check, go ahead and sign up.

- Oh yeah, in order to be hired, you need to be able to pass a criminal background check, a credit check, and a driving background check. If you've ever had so much as a speeding ticket, your chances of being hired by anyone outside of your own family/friends drop to near zero.

- The details that I asked my sitters to send when I was hiring for a one-night-per-week job: experience, Infant CPR certification, and two references. For a one night deal, I absolutely didn't need a resume or a cover letter. The sitter I hired sent a brief professional email telling me why she wanted the job (she really likes kids and wants to make a little extra money on the side), a brief run down of experience (nannied in the past, currently works at an organization involved in childhood safety), run-down of background checks she's had (this wasn't as important to me, and working where she does she very obviously passed a number of checks already), and her references. I interviewed her, she seemed friendly and responsible - checked with her references and hired her in the same day.

I got a TON of responses to my posting and most of them probably would have been great sitters. I chose to hire the one who had the best response to *my* ad and gave me the information that I specifically asked for rather than a cut-and-paste "I love kids, I would love to babysit for your son/daughter!" response.

Good luck!
posted by sonika at 5:48 AM on March 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

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