By Kim Hone-McMahan
Beacon Journal staff writer
If you are a parent with small children, this could be the one time you’ll be glad our area is below average.
According to Urbansitter.com, a website for parents to find and book baby sitters, the average hourly rate charged by sitters in nine cities it surveyed, including Denver and St. Louis, is $12.75.
So, if a couple is hitting the town for four hours, those paying the average rate can expect to shell out nearly $50 — and that’s before the cost of drinks, dinner and a flick.
To find out how much baby sitters charge in our area, we asked a few teens to tell us their going rate. Keep in mind that these are not day care charges, which often deal in volume, but teenage sitters. Experience often dictates a higher rate.
The girls we spoke with are all part of the Beacon Journal’s young readers group — our go-to team when we want to know the straight scoop from kids.
• Isabella Sparhawk, 17, who will be a senior at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in the fall, charges $7 an hour for one child, $8 for two and $10 for three of more, though she cuts her mom a break when watching her younger brothers, ages 4, 8 and 12.
She doesn’t charge more for children who have histories of misbehaving, though parents sometimes give her extra to keep her coming back.
• Emma Weihe, 16, of Bath, says she generally lets her clients pay her what they feel is a fair price. For instance, one of the parents she sits for pays $7 per hour, but after she gets her driver’s license, that amount will be bumped to $10 to cover the cost of driving the youngsters to activities and appointments.
• Megan Troyer, 17, of Hartville, charges $5 an hour for a number of families. “Some people pay more, others less, depending on their financial situation,” Megan explained.
• Alana King, 14, of Hudson, says she doesn’t have a set price, but when she sits for two small children, the parents generally pay her about $40 for the night.
• Kristina Vinigre, 14, of Akron, charges $3 an hour for one child, $5 for two, and $10 for three or more.
• Regina McWilliams, 13, of Cuyahoga Falls, charges between $5 and $7 an hour for one child. If there are two or more, she may suggest $6 to $8 an hour.
We also asked baby sitters what they would like parents to tell their children before they arrive. Megan said the kids should know the sitter is aware of the house rules, so no funny business will be allowed.
“I would just like them to lay down the law. Tell them that I have every right to discipline them if they misbehave and that I’m not afraid to tell their parents that they aren’t behaving properly,” offered Emma.
For Alana, she likes when parents tell their children that they will be home soon, to have fun, not to worry and to listen to the sitter.
There’s lots of information in magazines and on the Internet about things to look for in baby sitters, such as whether they are good with the kids, mature, responsible, trustworthy, respectful and know how to change a diaper.
And while adults generally aren’t shy about telling a sitter what they expect, including what to feed the kids and what bedtimes are, the baby sitter may be hesitant to tell all when parents return.
When we asked the teens what information they might hold back, Emma said she doesn’t tell them when their child has personally insulted her.
“I don’t tell them that some of the things they say actually hurt,” she lamented.
And Isabella said she’s not quick to tell parents if a child has just slightly misbehaved.
“I usually tell the parents the fun things that we did, and leave out the small inconveniences that occurred, because I don’t want the parent to be mad or worried at their kid about something that wasn’t very important,” she said.
Megan said if a child has been very bad, she probably won’t reveal just how bad.
“I’ll let you know they misbehaved, but if they ruined my shirt — it’s just a hazard of the job.”
Kim Hone-McMahan can be reached at 330-996-3742 or email@example.com.