Tipping the Sitter

Hi All! I am scheduled to babysit for a family tonight, and one of the parents just let me know that they will pay my base rate plus a tip at the end of the night. I've had other families give a tip, but most of the families for whom I babysit don't offer tips in addition to my hourly rate. I'm curious to know if tipping the babysitter is a relatively common practice? I'm also curious to know what other people consider to be "good sitter etiquette"? Things like providing dinner for the sitter, letting the sitter use your Netflix account (I once babysat for a family who asked that I sign into Netflix with my own credentials), etc.?

  • Ashleigh
    Jan 11

    I haven't heard of tipping a sitter recently, but used to get tips when I was sitting (decades ago!). I wouldn't expect this practice, and I also wouldn't lower your hourly rate to make room for tips. Accept them graciously when offered. I've never provided a meal, but have told our sitter to help herself to our pantry /fridge. She's also welcome to use our tv/apps/wifi. My guess is every family is different, and maybe some rules would change after there's time to develop the relationship. Good luck!

  • Ivana
    Jan 11

    We don’t necessarily tip our babysitter but we do usually try to round up, particularly if she’s coming over for a small amount of time to make it worth her while. If she’s staying a long time I try to pick up a meal for her too. Also we do a cash bonus at Christmas

  • anonymous mom
    Jan 11

    I’d definitely tip a sitter if they were awesome. But I wouldn’t mention a tip beforehand! I’d also never lower my rate in expectation of a tip. You’re providing a service that you value at xxx dollars/hour. How much you ask for says a lot about you. Too little makes you seem naive, inexperienced, and maybe a little insecure. Too much makes you not get business. But it’s always best to quote what you expect and feel you deserve. Tips should be for exemplary service. I would tell my sitter to help themselves to anything (but the booze, obviously!). But I wouldn’t cook for them.

  • Tiana
    Jan 11

    I always provide dinner for the sitter! Especially if we’re out during dinner hours. 6-10 or something like that. I don’t tip, but I’ll round up to the nearest $5

  • Amanda
    Jan 12

    I think that one thing that is really important (and maybe this clarifies my point above) is to discuss food with the babysitter beforehand. For example, if the sitter is scheduled from 5-10PM and the kids will be eating at 6:30, it’s helpful to let the babysitter know that you will also calculate her portion into the food for dinner (or that you’re leaving money for a pizza for everyone to share, etc.) Conversely, it’s important to let the sitter know if you aren’t calculating her portion so that she can prepare to bring her own dinner. I can’t tell you how many times I, as the sitter, have gone to babysit for a family only to find out that they’ve only allotted enough chicken nuggets for just the kids or ordered a personal pizza for each child, and that I’m on my own for dinner (when I hadn’t known to bring my own food.) I think that the topic of food doesn’t naturally come up when you’re making plans with a sitter, but I believe that it’s extremely helpful for everyone to discuss it beforehand!

  • anonymous mom
    Jan 12

    Wow that’s crazy and super rude!!! Babysitting is like swimming...I’m not sure how it happens but I end up working up a huge appetite just doing it! I would be appalled if I went to watch someone’s children and they didn’t intend to feed me! What do they want me to do, pass out from exhaustion!? Lol.

  • Cathy
    Jan 12

    Never tipped but I do round up. I also always ask what they would like for dinner.

  • Anonymous
    Jan 16

    I babysat from the time I was in my early teens. My first "clients" paid me a flat $5/hr for their grandson, guaranteeing me at least $20 per job. They picked me up and took me home; I was welcome to eat whatever I wanted. I got nice birthday and Christmas gifts from them, too. Since I worked in a summer program and lived in a neighborhood full of kids, I was booked up every weekend. I negotiated my rate based on how many children there were, and how old they were. For the neighbor with 3 kids in elementary school, I charged $10/hr, and I made them dinner. Their neighbor had 2 sons, one was hyper. $7.50 an hour, and I was treated to McDonalds...Both families picked me up and brought me home. My favorite clients were a family with 3 children (one a toddler) and a pet duck in the back yard. For $10/hr I would play in the yard with the kids (they had everything out there you can imagine), diaper the little one, cook them dinner (they loved spaghetti and hot dogs) and to prepare an extra portion for the duck! They had to be bathed, and put to bed. I ALWAYS got a tip from these guys, and my parents let me sleep over taking care of them once. As for my own children, I never hired a sitter until they were about 7. So, the sitter was there as a friend and entertainer, not a caretaker. After a few false starts, I found a student of mine who was very experienced as a sitter, given she had nieces and nephews. $10/hr, rounded up to the nearest hour. I'd get them dinner, they would eat, then they would play---they loved cards and board games. On weekends 10 was their bedtime, and they would bathe themselves and leap in bed before I got home. Her Mom would bring her, my boyfriend (now husband) brought her home. The only problem I ever had as a sitter was getting family members to pay me. Mom would volunteer me to sit for cousins, and after 2 times I did not get paid I stopped sitting for anyone who was related! Good luck! Babysitting can be a great way to make some serious moola when you are middle school and high school age!