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 December 11, 2013  Posted by  Family, Features, Hot Deals

‘Tis the season for holiday parties, and that means, assuming you want to enjoy yourself a bit sans the kiddies, it’s also a season when you especially need babysitting help.

However, hiring someone to watch your kids doesn’t come cheap, and you’re not imaging it if you think sitter costs seem to be quickly rising. The Boston Globe reported in August that teenage babysitter wages have risen nine times faster than inflation since the early 1980s.

During the holiday season, the cost of care can run even higher. The site UrbanSitter, which helps connect parents and babysitters, found in a November survey that 40% of parents tip their babysitter for the holidays.

So to help you enjoy a night – or two – out this season without the little ones, here are three strategies for cutting sitter costs, without sacrificing care quality.

1. Hire a free (and friendly) babysitter. In other words, trade babysitting with a friend, a money-saving strategy I recently wrote about on Hint Mama. Have your friend come over and babysit at your house one night, and then another night, you return the favor. And to make the babysitting swap as easy and as successful as possible, begin the sitting after the kiddies are asleep, and don’t sweat last minute cancels. While I like the simple one-couple exchange approach, you also can get more elaborate, adding more couples into the rotation and creating a babysitting co-op.

2. Ask for babysitting as a gift. When relatives and friends ask you what you want for the holidays, mention that you’d love their babysitting services so you can enjoy a night out. In order to help the idea catch on, you might want to give this budget-friendly gift (and great gift for those who have everything) to others as well, as Lisa Carey suggests on Yahoo. If your relatives live far away, and your friends aren’t available to babysit, you could ask for a gift certificate to a site like UrbanSitter or for money that you could apply to paying a babysitter.

3. Share a babysitter. Nanny shares, where two or more families share the cost of having a nanny care for their kids at one family’s home, are becoming increasingly popular. This idea is a very short-term variation of the nanny share concept. Basically, you and another family (or two) would hire a babysitter to watch all of your kids while you all go out, and you’d split the cost of the sitter. Of course, leaving your young child at someone else’s home may be easier said than done, so if you’re not going to be hosting the share at your place, you’d probably want to try this method out first during the day and keep the sitter consistent.

To be sure, the easiest way to cut childcare costs is simply not to go out. Heather Flett, of the site Rookie Moms, has some fun ideas for great sitter-free date nights. Still, during the holiday season, you’ll probably want to go out at least once, unless you’re hosting a holiday party at your place.

What are your strategies for cutting holiday childcare costs beyond just simply staying home? Share them below.

More tips from Hint Mama:

Photo credit: Jennifer Saranow Schultz (aka Hint Mama)

Jennifer Saranow Schultz

One comment on “3 creative ways to cut holiday childcare costs

  1. I did co-op sitting when my kids were little. And when I was a teen, I did #3 a LOT, especially New Year’s Eve. It would always be families from my church who knew each other and one would volunteer their home because they’d be so desperate for a sitter. It cost them all less per hour, but I still made a killing! :-)