Everyone needs a night out, parents especially. Time away from little ones can give you space to think your own thoughts, nurture your romantic relationship, or just pamper yourself. Even a simple dinner out once in a while with your partner or a friend can leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your responsibilities as a parent.
"Almost everything will work again," says novelist Anne Lamott, "if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
The trouble with unplugging when you have kids is finding, and paying, someone to monitor them while you're getting that much-needed recharge. Many parents find suitable babysitters through recommendations by friends and family members, or on trusted sites like www.care.com or www.sittercity.com. Once you've found a sitter that works for your family, though, how do you know what to pay him or her?
Here are six tips for determining how much you should pay your sitter:
How often will your sitter work for you?
Is this a full-time nanny position or a part-time job watching the kids after school every day? Or is it a once-a-month gig while you enjoy a night on the town?
Nannies typically work for $15 to $17 an hour plus employer taxes, while an occasional sitter may charge $12 to $14. Of course, some families can afford pricier care. As a baseline, Prince William and Kate Middleton pay $55,000 a year for their live-in nanny, so you can scale from there based on your situation.
You also want to think about how much it costs your sitter to get from his or her home to yours when deciding on compensation. If your nanny has to buy a bus ticket or subway pass, consider reimbursing the cost. Sitters who have to drive to another town or far into the country may also expect to be compensated for their extra gas expenses and travel time.
What about tips? Different families adopt different policies. Some parents only tip for special occasions such as when a sitter comes out on New Year's Eve. Others tip regularly for great service. And some don't tip at all. Most sitters expect a fair wage and nothing more, but of course, a tip wouldn't go unappreciated, either. You may want to tip a teen you know is saving money for college but not tip a regular, after-school sitter who considers this his or her occupation.
Decide in advance what other perks your sitter can take advantage of. Will the refrigerator's contents be fair game? Will you cover the cost of pizza delivery or Chinese take-out for your sitter? Can he or she have access to the TV, Nextflix, or your internet? If the sitter is taking the kids to a movie or museum, you'll need to decide if you're footing the bill for his or her ticket.
6. Moms and Dads of Multiples
If you expect the sitter to watch multiple children, you may wish to pay a flat hourly fee plus $1 extra per hour for each additional child. By the same token, you may want to kick the pay up if your sitter has the needed qualifications to care for a child with special needs.
When you need to unplug without worrying about what's going on at home, you need a top-quality sitter. It's worth paying a generous salary to a qualified, competent person in order to help you relax and enjoy your night out.
You may not realize it, but your local, independent insurance agent has always been concerned with making sure your kids are taken care of. A life insurance policy can give you the security of knowing that if something were to happen to you, that your kids and your spouse will be financially secure. Talk to your local Give Your Kid a Million agency partner today about the different life insurance options available. Your agent will help you find a policy that fits your goals, lifestyle and your budget.