- Personal Finance»
- Family Budget
5 Ways to Find a Free Babysitter
Most parents with small children know that when it comes time to planning a date the first question that pops to mind is, “who’s going to watch the kids?” And, in close second, “how much will it cost?” From my experience the way you answer these questions can either make or break date night.
According to Urbansitter, the average rate for a babysitter is $12.50 per hour, and that’s probably conservative, especially if you live in a big city, or if you’re a family with two or more kids because babysitting rates can increase incrementally per child. Say you use a babysitter for 4 hours, you’re paying approximately $50-$70 on childcare for a single night. Now, top that off with a movie, dinner, dessert and drinks and you’re looking at upwards of $125 for a date, and an easy recipe for a broken Piggy bank!
With so many people trying to scale back and budget wisely date nights and other, much needed, time to recharge get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Well, fortunately there are ways to have that special time with your spouse, or your friends, and not have to fork out extra money for a sitter.
Below are 5 babysitting ideas for parent’s that are completely free.
1. Couple’s Babysitting Exchange
You know how the saying goes, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”? Well, this is the ideal scenario to put that quote to use. Find a reliable couple with kids and agree that once a month, or whatever the frequency you decide, you will babysit their kids if they will babysit yours. This is the perfect way to get free childcare when you’re planning a date night. One week you’ll watch your friend’s little angels and the next week they’ll watch yours. Provided you find a couple you trust, you can’t lose with this exchange.
What skill do you have that you can offer up, pro bono, in exchange for a free babysitter? Maybe you can offer to clean your friend's house for a few hours if they will watch your kids for the same amount of time. Maybe you can agree to cook the next couple of dinners for someone who could benefit from some home cooked meals. Or, perhaps you’re good at preparing taxes or setting up corporate accounts, and can suggest this service to a friend. Think of some skill that you possess that could be put to use, in trade for a complimentary babysitter.
3. Faithful Family
Some people might cringe at the thought of family members watching their children, but if you have family close by then generally they are the perfect free babysitters. What a great way for the kids to spend time with grandma and grandpa, or their cousins. And, although family will generally babysit for free it’s a nice gesture to pay them back with some special dessert or a nice card as a gesture of gratitude for watching your babies, because, chances are you’ll be utilizing their services again.
4. The Local Church
Many family-focused churches offer free “date night” babysitting for couples, so they can enjoy a fun night out. It sounds too good to be true, but there are many places of worship that realize the value in couples spending quality time together, so they encourage this by offering to take care of the kids for free. Just Google, “free babysitting at local church” and you’ll be surprised at what pops up.
5. Neighborhood Kid
Find a dependable young person and solicit their services. You might be thinking that a youngster wants to get paid, and most do, but if you have something that they may want, like your old computer, or that bike that’s sitting in your garage collecting dust, then you can offer those items in exchange for babysitting services. What adolescent wouldn’t want a “new” iPod or skateboard, especially if they don’t already have one? Use your imagination. Perhaps you can offer tutoring sessions or piano lessons, or, maybe you have access to concert tickets. If someone gave me “New Kids on the Block” tickets when I was a teenager I’d offer up free babysitting for a year.
Babysitting fees should no longer prevent you from having a much-needed break from the pressures of life. It is possible to enjoy a date night, or hang out with friends and not have to worry about spending money on childcare. Be creative; be inventive, be resourceful, and remember, sometimes the best things in life are free.