Split A Sitter, Save A Bundle

Here’s a good way to save a bundle on your bundle of joy – share a sitter with a neighbor. By dropping off her 15-month-old at a neighbor’s place 4 days a week, Real Simple reader Maureen Dempsey says she saves ~$400 a month. The article doesn’t specify it but I imagine babysitter watches both kids at the same time for a little bit more but not as much as hiring two separate sitters. Plus Maureen’s kid also gets to interact with another kid at the same time. Surviving the recession is all about working together and splitting up costs. [via Real Simple] (Photo: Ordinary Guy)


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  1. tc4b says:

    Save even more money, live near your parents. Not an option for everyone, I know. But I have never paid for babysitting. (In case you’d like to accuse me of taking advantage of them, the wife and I only go out once a month, my folks actually wish they got my kids more often.)

    • SacraBos says:

      @backbroken: Kids that old are usually about 25 inch-feet tall. Give or take a ounce-pound.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      @tc4b: Yeah, that’s worked out great for me so far also. It’s been less than 2 years and we go out at about the same rate. Of course, I’m certain there still will be times we’ll need or want to find a real babysitter.

    • Tiber says:

      @tc4b: Just be rather careful about that. My mom gets rather sick sometimes of babysitting for my sister, who’s constantly taking overtime because she needs the income.

      Of course, not everyone is in this kind of situation. I’m just saying sometimes it’s worth it to pay for a sitter to not sour your relationship with your family. I’m not accusing tc4b of this, just offering a consideration for those who would take that advice.

    • Skipweasel says:

      @tc4b: We’ve never paid a sitter – we have friends and neighbours.

  2. Ratty says:

    Great for the parents saving money.

    Not so great for the babysitter and children in general. 2 kids isn’t so bad. I’ve had people try and pull this with 4+ though and it gets absolutely ridiculous. At that point it’s just probably not even safe for the kids.

    • nbs2 says:

      @Ratty: I expect the babysitter knows about this arrangement in advance and is compensated accordingly.

      When we go out with some friends, we will have a babysitter watch both our kids (1 each). She makes more money in the twofer, the kids are happier since they are as best of friends as a 2 and 3 year old can be, and we can spend an evening where we can mentally relax. Win-win-win. Plus, the baby sitter usually ends up with a bigger tip. For 5 hours, we’ll normally pay about $75 + dinner after tip. Not bad cash for a couple hours worth of work (after the kids crash, it’s cash to just sit around).

      • Spider Jerusalem says:

        @nbs2: This was my first reaction: I hope the babysitter knew about this before the parents started exploiting her labor.

      • Ratty says:

        @nbs2: sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t come upfront to say it. When they do it’s usually fine unless the extra kids you don’t know come with their own undisclosed issues. Or if they fight.

        I had no problem with it when it was both: disclosed completely with more contact info and kid info, and pay was raised at least a bit to compensate. Not even double pay or anything, but an extra twenty bucks to watch another little tyke for the whole evening was fine with me. That only happened about half the time and the parents who insisted on just dropping off an extra child or two of their friends with no warning or pay difference I had to try and talk with.

        And hey, I was a good babysitter–when the kids went to bed it was time to do the dishes, tidy the living room or wherever else the kids played, and THEN time to relax until the parents got in!

  3. sarabadara says:

    It would be nice if I could do that. Come this summer, I will be paying $300 per week for daycare. SHIT.

  4. backbroken says:

    What is a 15 month-year-old?

  5. rachaeljean says:

    Uh, I sure hope they at least pay the sitter a little bit more for twice the work.

    • chipslave says:

      @rachaeljean: No they just hop the kids up on sudafed. They nap great! :)

    • Sparerib says:

      @rachaeljean: Agreed, I don’t really understand how this saves money, unless they are paying a reduced rate for sending two kids instead of one. It shouldn’t be a two for one deal just because the neighbors know each other and they both have kids. I wonder, is one neighbor just bullshitting and telling the sitter that the kids are siblings? Something is awry.

      • Ratty says:

        @Sparerib: Usually when people were nice about it it would be something like this:

        Already getting $40 to watch two children for 6 hours. Adding child 3, plus another $15 or so for the same timeframe. Not quite doubling up pay but scaling it up a bit.

      • Veeber says:

        @Sparerib:You don’t need to pay double. The sitter might have to work a bit harder for that one night, but now has an additional night free. Otherwise the parents would either higher a different sitter for the same night or ask the same sitter to come a different night. You basically get a higher hourly rate for a little more responsibility. Depending on the kids, this is quite a good tradeoff.

        • Sparerib says:

          @Veeber: The post doesn’t make it out to be a “night out” babysitter. It’s about sending a child 4 days a week. And I agree that the rate doesn’t need to be double, that would be a little overzealous of the sitter. It just appeared at face value that the parents were taking advantage of the babysitter’s rates. But for all I know, the sitter said “bring a friend and split the cost.” I just calls ’em like I sees ’em.

          And seattleperson: my sitter asks for $20 a day (awesome), but I don’t get a discount because she watches other people’s kids.

      • seattleperson says:

        @Sparerib: you must have never babysat or hired a babysitter before! When I babysat I got $5 for the first kid and $2 for each additional kid.

    • misokitty says:

      @rachaeljean: I work as a nanny and have always been suspicious of this type of situation. The nanny share idea is great for the parents and can be nice for the kids but for the nanny it can mean a lot more work for less than they could make for a single family with two children. Plus unlike a single family with multiple children the nanny share usually has two children close to the same age which is a lot harder than an older child and a younger child.

      • XTC46 says:

        @misokitty: Is it really harder? I would expect that 2 kids near the same age would be easier than 2 kids a couple of years apart. My assumption was it would be easier to come up with a single activity for both to do while you watch, then monitor 2 kids doing 2 different things.

    • Rachacha says:

      @rachaeljean: It is not uncommon for daycare providers to provide a substantial discount for siblings. Working on the same theory, if you hire a sitter to watch your child at home. As others have suggested, a second child would be less. Check the rate for a second child in advance with your sitter.

      From the sitters perspective. She can spend all day watching 1 child for $10/hour, or she can watch 2 children for $15/hour. While there may be some extra work, the advantage is that the kids will interact with one another and will play happily with each other for a good portion of the day, allowing the sitter to do some other activities (reading a book etc.) while keeping an eye on the kids.

      • GirlCat says:

        @Rachacha: “will play happily with each other for a good portion of the day” Have you met many kids? My sibs and I got along really well, but I can assure you we rarely met this standard. Hell, visit any office; most adults can’t manage it either.

  6. bazaar_apparatus says:

    Might wanna think again about that article title, just sayin’

  7. serbob says:

    I don’t know what babysitter or neighbour would agree to that! You’re using someone else’s house and hired help. Nice if you can get away with it.

    I haven’t used a sitter in about 7 years, but when I did I had to pay $85 per kid per week. Times are tough for babysitters too. They need the cash also.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Sounds great for the one dropping off her child and saving $, but what about the sitter? I agree it’s nice for both children to have someone with whom to interact, but sometimes 2 are a handful! I would think the one dropping off her child should return the favor!!!! (At least watching the other child so the parents can have a night out.)

  9. sleze69 says:

    An old friend of mine did this with her kid. Essentially the “babysitting” was just daycare. He was one of like 8 kids. He could quote any daytime TV show and became somewhat dull-eyed.

    You get what you pay for.

  10. Cat_In_A_Hat says:

    @backbroken: Tears are flowing. Can’t stop laughing!

  11. nataku8_e30 says:

    @backbroken: I assume someone who can be described by squared time? My puny human mind has difficulty wrapping itself around that concept.

  12. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Reading “Split A Sitter” I immediately thought of something very very dirty.

    I feel very ashamed, and my public confession will hopefully alleviate the guilt about the cliche of taking advantage of a sitter taking her home.

    For what it’s worth I don’t have children and would never have any need for a sitter.

  13. chauncy that billups says:

    @backbroken: This could be a thinly veiled comment about how parents annoyingly (up to about the age of 3) state their kids’ ages in months. Eg. My son is 28 months old, my daughter is 30 months old. Just say 2 and half, dammit! How’d you like if you asked my age, and I said, “around 360 months”.

    More likely – someone just f’d up a little.

  14. virgilstar says:

    This is great, until you realize there is absolutely no state or federal regulation that these sitters are required to meet. At least with a state certified daycare you can be sure your kids are not being watched by a pedophile / crack addict / axe murderer. Plus with daycare the kids get variety, lots more toys to play with, exposure to more culture (diverse languages) etc. Add in the laws regarding upkeep of property (e.g. lead paint removal) which daycare places have to meet but babysitters don’t and that sitter option is looking pretty crappy to me. Then there’s the tax benefit (i.e. proper receipts for daycare which can be used for a tax credit, versus a sitter who is probably working for cash and doesn’t want to issue receipts to “keep things simple”). This is altogether not a good idea, and isn’t actually that much cheaper (and no, just to clarify, I don’t work for a daycare, we have a 10-month old in daycare, and pay $470/2wks).

    • BytheSea says:

      @virgilstar: That’s great for you but you’re paying for daycare twice as much as a minimum wage worker makes in a month.

      • mmmsoap says:

        @BytheSea: Not sure of your math there. Minimum wage in MA (where I live) is $8/hr. At 40 hrs a week, roughly 4 weeks a month, that’s 8*40*4 = $1280 that the minimum wage earner brings home each month. Yes, virgilstar is paying $940, but that’s definitely not twice as much!

        Granted, not all states have the same minimum wage. In Wyoming, where it’s $5.15 (yes, I googled it when I realized that MA might not be the best example) the minimum wage earner is still earning more than $800 per month.

        • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

          @mmmsoap: $1280 pre-tax. Give Count Porkula and his tax-dodging buds in Washington their cut, then the Peoples’ Republik of Taxachussetts gets their cut.

          I’m sure that will work out as a take-home pay of much, much less than $940 per month.

        • Anonymous says:


          I’d like to know what minimum wage jobs you are talking about that will give you 40hrs a week! I’ve been working minimum wage jobs for the past 5yrs and have to put up with 7-20hrs a week.

    • Ratty says:

      @virgilstar: I always babysat at other peoples’ homes. if their places were full of lead paint and spiders that was on them, not on me.

    • SarcasticDwarf says:

      @virgilstar: Holy crap! How did humanity ever survive this long with all those dangers around!!!

  15. Anonymous says:

    Forty years ago, a family from my church asked me to babysit for their three children from 6 am to 11 pm. Two other families dumped their kids on me, for a total of eight. Throughout the day, I consoled myself with the idea that I would be making more money for enduring this awful situation. Wrong! The two dumping families paid NOTHING. I had lost my voice by the time the adults returned home and had to miss a couple days of school. It was a nightmare. I confess to having a visceral reaction when reading the above. Unless the babysitter consents in advance, this is– at a minimum– a very dirty trick.

  16. The_IT_Crone says:

    Wait, people still use babysitters? My restaurant and movie-going experiences say otherwise.

    I do think it is a good idea, but remember that there is a point where it’s just unlicensed daycare.

  17. mattatwork says:

    When my sister and I were younger, my parents traded watching us with some family friends who had children near our age. If my parents were going out, we’d go play at their house. If their parents were going out, they’d come over and play at our house.

    Cost = free

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      Only after reading this story and the comments did I realize that my parents were doing the same thing. Fooled my younger mind!

      I always figured my parents were the lamest squares in the world and NEVER went out! I guess I was having so much fun with my friends that I never cared what my folks were doing.

  18. rpm773 says:

    Am I the only one who finds some of these “Real Simple” solutions to be a little thin?

    It’s not like two women (or men..it’s the 21st century) grousing to each other about sitter/daycare fees wouldn’t come up with the same idea. But as others have written, everyone’s lives are different and it’s quite possible that there may be other reasons besides “not thinking of it” as to why they don’t do this.

    Tomorrow from Real Simple: Avoid scalding your hands by using a colander to strain your pasta!

    • rpm773 says:

      @rpm773: Maybe I’m reading too much into the title of the publication. As in “the solution is real simple, stupid”

      /shakes fist, walks away muttering….

    • Ratty says:

      @rpm773: You mean you shouldn’t strain pasta that way? THANK YOU! You’ve saved me another ER visit and weeks in bandages!

  19. t-r0y says:

    What! And take a job away from another sitter! Wait until the union hears about this!

  20. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Split a baby, go to jail! (Unless you’re King Solomon, or it’s a conjoined twin)

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    Or just do what I do when I’m babysitting the niece/nephews. Simply leave them alone in the park long enough, and eventually someone will take them off my hands for the rest of the weekend.

    (After two days, *they* will pay ME to take them back)

    • backbroken says:

      @Trai_Dep: I find it more effective to just mail them to myself. Put enough food and water in the box, drop them at the post office Friday afternoon, and it’s a free weekend. Er, well, not free but postage is cheaper than a sitter.

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      Ha, good idea. Just because they are children doesn’t mean that they can’t contribute. We are in a recession people!

  22. Anonymous says:

    We do this. It’s called a nanny share and it’s common where we live. Each family is paying the nanny a little more than it would cost to place our kids in day care. The kid/caregiver ratio is so much better, and the caregiver makes far more money than she would in a day care environment as well.

    I haven’t read the Real Simple article, but unless the person who submitted the idea is paying FICA taxes and providing W-2s to the babysitter/nanny, she is flouting the law as I understand it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Why would someone have a child (unless it’s an oops) and decide to let someone else raise them? I’ll be *amned if I’m going to let a stranger watch my kid(s) for 8-10 hours a day while I work. HELLO what is wrong with this picture. No wonder kids today are so screwed up. It’s called parenting and it requires parents to do it.

  24. DanC922 says:

    Here’s an idea. Work out a deal with some other couples in which Friday night (or whatever other day) is date night for the couples. If there are four couples, you do date night for 3 weeks, and the fourth you watch all of the other kids. Alternate and you get free babysitting and a night out most weeks.

  25. Nicole Glynn says:

    That’s still a huge chunk of pay going towards childcare.