You expect your sitter to prepare food for your children during meal times and help them through their morning or bedtime routine. You expect her to keep them occupied and engaged, and also follow your household rules. And you expect her to respond to any scrapes, bruises or runny noses when they occur, keeping your child feeling safe and cared for.

But certain circumstances, either unforeseen or just plain difficult, land outside of the “typical” job description for a sitting job.

And when your sitter responds well to such events, the best way to show your appreciation is, well, with cold, hard cash.

What kinds of situations require the kind of “above and beyond” service that may warrant a tip? Here are a few for your consideration.

• Dealing with a household emergency. Let’s say the power goes out, a pipe breaks or the furnace dies while your sitter is over. She will have to be extra resourceful to remedy the situation or keep your kids calm until the situation subsides.

• Helping out last-minute or during a holiday. Perhaps she came to the rescue when you had a last-minute need on a Saturday night, or chose to care for your children on a night when sitters are in demand, such as New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day. A tip might be appropriate to thank her for choosing your family over something else.

• Sitting more children. When the kids next door decide to come over for an impromptu play date, your sitter might have to work harder to make sure everyone is occupied, amicable and safe.

• Driving kids around. It’s one thing if driving your kids to and from school or to different activities is included in your sitter’s regular job description. But if she is asked to taxi the kids around town beyond her regular routine, you might want to show appreciation for the extra hassle.

• Caring for your child while they are ill. Most of us wouldn’t knowingly leave the house if one of our kids had the stomach flu, or we knew they were going to fall out of the tree and sprain their wrist when we were gone. But as parents, we all know we can’t anticipate these incidents. If they happen to occur while our babysitter is in charge, we also know from experience how much extra work it can be to provide the extra care and attention your child needs.

Use your own judgment when trying to determine exactly how much you should tip your sitter. In some circumstances, a few extra dollars, or rounding up to the nearest $5 or $10 mark might be sufficient. Other circumstances – those that require a trip to the emergency room or household catastrophe – might warrant an extra $20 or more beyond her regular compensation.

Regardless of the amount, the gesture alone will be appreciated. And chances are, if she feels appreciated, she will want to come back.


Annette Shukry is a mother of two children and owner of the Omaha metro and Lincoln locations of SeekingSitters, a full-service nanny and babysitting referral service. For more information about SeekingSitters, call Annette at 402.990.7795 or email her at

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