How to Afford a Babysitter on a Tight Budget

Date night can be hard to organize when you have kids.  It winds up being a lot more expensive than when you were just a couple.

And is it just me, or did rates for babysitters go way up since I was a kid?  I feel like I remember something about the going rate being half minimum wage.  Now, it seems like everyone pays $10 an hour.  Which is great for the sitters, but not so great for budget-conscious parents who just need some alone time.

Especially when your husband sees terrible things on a regular basis, babysitters become expensive, because you don’t want to hire just anybody.  You want someone you can trust to keep your kids safe.  An older, more experienced, more trustworthy babysitter is going to cost a little more per hour than your average 13-year-old.

How can you afford a babysitter for date night even when money is tight?

Swap babysitting.

If you know another family nearby, try swapping babysitting services.  Watch their kids for their date night and in return, have them watch yours.

This is a great way to get a babysitter you trust for an investment of time, not money.  As packed as my schedule typically is, I generally have more spare time than spare money.  If that sounds familiar to you, this could be a great budget-friendly date night solution.

If you’re part of a mom group, you could even do a babysitting rotation among several of the members.  I’ve never done this personally, but here’s a post about how to start a babysitting co-op from Frugal Mama.  It’s something I’m going to have to look into!

Swap other services or items.

Because A is so young, it works better to have a babysitter come to our house rather than drop him off elsewhere.  Swapping babysitting services can be tough if we’d like to have an evening date.

If this sounds familiar, why not try swapping other services?  Do you make the best cookies of anyone you know? Offer a batch in exchange for childcare.  Do you have photography skills? Trade a session for some babysitting.

Get creative!  I’m sure you have a skill someone would be willing to trade for.

Maybe you have things you don’t use anymore that you could swap for.  For instance, I had a pair of compression shorts with a built-in holster that was too small for me after pregnancy.  I ended up trading it for someone to cat-sit while we went on vacation.

If you run any kind of business, even an MLM, where you can get a discount on product, you could potentially use that for barter as well.  I had an aunt that would let me pick things from an Avon catalog when I babysat as a kid and I thought it was the coolest thing.

Have a sitter come after hours.

We’ve done this a couple times.  It’s dependent on A going to bed easily, but it works pretty well. We just have the sitter arrive after he’s already gone to bed.  The times we’ve done this, we’ve offered $5 per hour, which I think is great pay for watching Netflix and making sure the house doesn’t catch fire.

If A were to wake up while they were there, I’d probably up the rate a little.

I also offer the babysitter an opportunity to earn extra money when I do this.  I like to write out a list of chores they can do and how much each pays.

For instance, if they wash the dishes, I’ll offer an extra $5.  I might leave a load of laundry to be folded next to the couch, and if they do that I’ll throw in another $5.  And so on and so forth.

If they don’t do them, that’s fine.  If they do, it saves me the trouble of doing it and gives them the opportunity to earn more money if they choose.

Be upfront about your rate.

If all else fails, be upfront about you’re offering when you ask around.  That way, if someone feels it’s not worth their time, they don’t have to take it, and they don’t feel used like they might if you didn’t tell them anything in advance.

If you can only afford $5 an hour, even during the day, and you’re planning a day date for 3 hours, say “I’m offering $15 if you watch my kid for 3 hours.”  Chances are, you’ll find someone available and willing.

To be fair, this is actually a good idea no matter what you’re planning to pay. 

Do something that doesn’t require a babysitter.

I know, I know, this post is about how to save money on a babysitter.  But sometimes the best way to save money on one is to not need one at all.  I made a whole post on this topic, actually!

Read more here:  10 Fun Dates You Don’t Need a Babysitter For


Date night is so important to the health of a marriage.  Cutting down on the expense of childcare means it’s more likely to happen!

How much do you pay a babysitter?

Great tips on how to afford a babysitter! Maybe we can finally get a date night once in a while, lol!

About The Author


I’m a twenty-something LEO wife and stay-at-home mom to a one-year-old little boy. I enjoy writing, reading, taking my son for walks and runs in the stroller, and crafting. My goal is for Love and Blues to be a resource for first responders and their families. I write about marriage and family topics, as well as about the quirks that come with being married to a man in law enforcement, firefighting, or emergency medical services.