General Question

momster's avatar

Would you charge more or less to babysit overnight?

Asked by momster (303points) August 15th, 2012

I babysit a friend’s two young children a few afternoons a week. She normally pays me $12 an hour. This weekend she has to travel to a funeral and has asked if I can keep the kids overnight and what I would charge. Should I tell her the usual rate, or more since it’s overnight? Less because they’re sleeping? But here’s the thing, the kids sleep with their mom at home and the little one still wakes up for cups of milk several times a night and cries and cries if she doesn’t get it. Then I feel like a jerk for even charging her when she’s off to a funeral. What would you do?

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27 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

You couldn’t pay me enough to even babysit!

bkcunningham's avatar

@momster, how much do you usually make for babysitting each week? How many hours a week do you babysit?

If I was going to charge her, I’d use the weekly fee as a starting point to determine what to charge for an overnight stay.

momster's avatar

The amount each week varies because sometimes I watch them four or five afternoons, and sometimes it’s only two. That’s why we go with an hourly rate and not a weekly fee. I just don’t know if it’s typical to charge more or less for overnight because on the one hand they are hopefully sleeping but on the other it’s more of an inconvenience because they are here all night and we have our own kids too. I also know I’m not going to get much sleep because of the 2 year old’s bad sleep habits.

Trillian's avatar

Cries if she doesn’t get it?
Oh HELL no.

JLeslie's avatar

My opinion is I would not charge more than the usual rate, as I think your rate is a good one. Hopefully, if she was thinking it would be more, she will on her own give you an extra tip. Just my opinion, but I have no experience with babysitting in the last 25 years, so maybe my thinking on the matter is way off.

If it turns out to be an awful night, you either won’t do it again, or charge more next time. But, since you frequently babysit and it is a funeral, I would do it this once and see how it goes.

Edit: she would provide snacks and drinks for them I would assume?

gailcalled's avatar

I would tell her that since this is a family emergency, you will keep the rates the same. (I, personally, think that $12 for two children, one of whom sounds like she is still very young, is well below the average rate.)

Let her know that in future, you will have to charge more. And indeed, mention how the night went.

marinelife's avatar

I would come up with a flat rate for the overnight part and then do an hourly for the evening.

keobooks's avatar

You may be surprised and find out the kid isn’t as clingy and demanding with you as she is with her parents. My daughter is almost the exact age and we were having some serious naptime issues. I found out that with my mother and inlaws she had no problem at all falling asleep at nap time. She had some behavior that she specifically connected to me and nursing. Since they didn’t nurse, she didn’t get into this clingy demanding cycle with them and just went to sleep.

Oh also, you may be surprised that she doesn’t seem to miss mom while she’s gone. My daughter seems totally fine with everything and kinda forgets about me until she sees me. THEN she realizes that she didn’t see me for a long period of time and will sometimes get weepy.

Once she figured out you’re not sleeping with her, she may just be more intrigued by the novelty and may be ok for a night.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Momster. Although it is an emergency trip, it’s not like she is going to the Bahamas to party over night. In these times it’s hard to get a job. I feel she is going through some rough times. Here I would cut her some slack and just go with the usual 12$. Because they will be sleeping it will definitely be much easier. I don’t believe this will be a reoccurring theme where she will want to drop them off over night often. So this one time where the child might wake up and drink a glass of milk could be a positive experience and one that you keep in your memories for life. Think about it, 10 to 20 years down the road when you see that child grown up, you can tell yourself, “Ah I remember giving that child a glass of milk that one time when there mother had to go to that funeral.” And you won’t have to feel bad about having charging more than the usual. Trust me, I’m sure she feels bad already about this funeral, also that she has to leave her kids with you so soon.
With all that being said, it’s ultimately up to you and I don’t pass judgement onto your conscious. Best wishes to your decision!

Coloma's avatar

I like @gailcalled ‘s suggestion of giving her a break for this one, special circumstance but that in the future you will be charging for any overnight hours.
You are still on call during the night, you are still available and having to behave responsibly even when the children are sleeping. 24 hour, overnight care for an elderly person runs around $125 to $150 a 24 hour shift. Why should babysitting be any different?
You are being paid for your time and supervision which does not magically stop when the kiddies go to bed.

momster's avatar

Ok I will just tell her to give me the usual. I think it was nice of her to ask when she could have just not given the option. I really don’t mind having the kids overnight and just wasn’t sure how to answer her about the money.

The littlest one is 2½ and has done OK going to bed for me here before. Sometimes the mom works late (she’s an event planner) so I put the kids in pjs and they go to sleep in the spare room. The youngest sometimes cries but she does ok with some hugs and falls asleep in a pretty short time. I don’t know how she’ll do if she wakes in the middle of the night and is unsure where she is, but it’s only one night so I am sure we can manage. If they were my kids I’d sleep in the spare room with one and put the other in my bed with my husband, but since they aren’t our kids that could get awkward. lol Anyway it is very unlikely they’ll be here overnight again because once the older one goes back to school later this month they’ll be going to a sitter closer to home.

JLeslie's avatar

How old is the older one? Will he/she comfort the younger one? Usually siblings kind of step up when they are away from their parents. Plus, I agree with @keobooks, kids behave much better typically when away from their parents.

momster's avatar

Trillian, believe me, I would not cave in to crying and she knows it! I like my friend and her kids are great for me but Mom and Dad are not running the show and the kids certainly know it. Even though the kids have figured out I don’t go for temper tantrums and whining there’s very little you can do to reason with a two year old in a strange place in the middle of the night. I am very sensitive to the fact that she will probably be scared and missing her mom.

JLeslie the older one is almost six and I think it helps that he’s there but he also gets a little sad when they have to fall asleep here so isn’t much help!

JLeslie's avatar

@momster I hated going to sleep in general when I was a kid, didn’t matter where, so I empathize with the kids. Let us know how it goes.

YARNLADY's avatar

Call around to some of the professional agencies and ask how much they would charge. That will give you an idea what the going rate is.

seekingwolf's avatar

I would just charge the usual, by hour rate. You’ll make a lot because she’s still paying you BY the hour so that’s a whole night (8 hours) of pay.

I am not a huge fan of kids, but that pay is still pretty kushy in my opinion. I get paid a little more than that each night to clean up incontinent elderly people all night long. Maybe I’m just poor but I think $12/hr to give a kid a couple glasses of milk through the night is GOOD pay.

elspethe's avatar

I think your friend is lucky to have someone as considerate as you are for her circumstances…and hope she appreciates it. Maybe say you are at odds with the overnight fee for the circumstances…would $150 for the whole shebang feel too high for you? It seems in your last post they will be going to another sitter, but they will always be a reference for you.
Hope it goes well.

momster's avatar

Well I figured out the usual hourly rate would be very, very high because the kids are dropped off by their dad in the afternoon, usually around 2:00. They would be here until the next morning for a total of at least 18 hours. I don’t feel comfortable charging them so much for one night so I told her to pay the usual until bedtime and then the rest is on us. She’s not just someone I sit for but she’s a friend of ours and this is a funeral not a night out on the town.

Seekingwolf, have you ever spent the night with a kid who wakes up constantly? I have three kids and if it were as easy as giving a kid a couple of glasses of milk through the night new parents wouldn’t complain of sleep deprivation. Babysitting isn’t just hanging around with kids unless you’re a crappy babysitter. I feed them, do activities with them, read to them, take them to the playground or other fun things, take them swimming, clean them up, and generally treat them as well as I’d want my own kids to be treated. Around here $12 an hour for such individualized child care is not out of line and it is certainly less than they would pay if they went to a daycare center. I also babysit them rather late most Saturdays and some Fridays as well just due to the nature of Mom and Dad’s jobs. I could trivialize your job by saying you get paid pretty well to wipe butts a couple of times a night but I don’t like to make generalizations about things I have no experience with.

keobooks's avatar

Let us know how it goes!

jca's avatar

@momster: Can you please provide an update as to what you charged, how the night went, and if the mom was ok with what you charged?

The Update Lady

momster's avatar

jca, the night went very well. I first wore the kids out with a lot of playing, then we stayed up a bit late making s’mores over a bonfire and watching a movie. I think if I’d tried to get my friend’s kids to sleep in the spare room it would have gone much worse, but my son had the great idea to let the boy camp out in his room in a sleeping bag. Then it was an adventure and he wouldn’t be alone. It also made it easier to just have the two year old sleep with me. She did fine and only woke up once to ask for milk but when I told her to go back to sleep she didn’t fuss. I wish I could say I slept great but I’m not used to having an extra little body in the bed and I kept waking up all night! lol At least I can’t blame it on the kids.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m glad it went reasonably well. Thanks for the update. Do you feel good about the money you charged considering the amount of work it did take? I think give your kids $10 for being good helpers.

jca's avatar

@momster: Congratulations on a night that went well! Would you mind specifying what you ended up charging for that?

gailcalled's avatar

@momster: And would you consider doing it again, for the same or a slightly higher rate?

momster's avatar

Like I said I told her to only pay me until the kids bedtime, so that plus the next morning would be about $100. I am fine with that. I doubt they’d ask me to watch the kids overnight again but I would do it if they needed it especially on a weekend.

Their mom was my friend long before I started babysitting, so even though they need to find someone else when school starts I told her she should call me if they ever need someone in a pinch or on a weekend. If it’s not a regular thing I wouldn’t even charge her, just consider it a play date for our kids. And I hate to say it but in a way it will be a relief not to be officially responsible for the kids because over the course of watching them it became clear that both the mom and dad have serious problems with alcohol. :( We once made the mom spend the night here with the kids because when she came to pick them up she was completely wasted, slurring her words and everything. She wanted to drive an hour home like that with two kids in the car so I was so glad when she finally agreed to just sleep here. If she’d left with them I would have had to call the police. I had to tell her I wouldn’t watch the kids anymore if it happened again. The dad isn’t much better, he’s been in rehab but has started drinking again. Showed up to a lunch meeting during the week with my husband, smelling like liquor. He even smelled like liquor when he came to pick his kids up last weekend at nine in the morning. Like I said they are friends of ours from a long time back but the longer I watch their kids the more of this I see and I think it will be better for the kids to be with someone closer to home. :(

gailcalled's avatar

@momster: Oh, boy. Interesting story. And scary. Are you concerned about these parents driving while drunk with the kids in the car?

(Please use breaks in your text to make reading easier.)

jca's avatar

@momster: I think $100 for the night is perfectly reasonable.

In New York State, if a parent gets a DWI with kids in the car it’s an automatic felony and I think it includes mandatory jail time (year in jail I think). That’s sad for those kids that you watched, to have parents like that.

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