What should you pay your nanny?

According to a recent USA Today article, babysitters make an average of $10 per hour. This can add up if you're planning a day in the country or a night on the town, but it's a small price to pay for your sanity. (Not to mention the safety of your children).

There are several factors to consider when deciding how much you'll pay:

* Babysitter's Age Pay younger sitters, who generally have less experience, less than you would pay someone older. That said, if a sitter stays with you for many years, increase her wages as her experience increases.
* Location If you live in a big city, expect to pay more for a babysitter than someone who lives in the suburbs. Higher cost of living = higher wages.
* Experience A sitter who knows CPR and has tended to big groups of children will cost more. And rightfully so! Specialized training should always be rewarded.
* Number of Children If you have more than one child, expect to pay $2 to $5 more an hour for each additional child. (So, if you'd pay $40 for one child for four hours, expect to pay $48-60 for two children, or $56-$80 for three children, and so on.)
* Time of Day Pay more if kids will be awake the whole time you're gone. If the sitter will put the kids to bed, lock the doors, and watch TV, you can pay less.
* Activities One child has soccer practice, the other needs to go to the dentist. And they both need to be at the dinner table at 6. Pay more if a sitter will need to venture out.
* Cooking For each meal that is prepared, add $10 to a sitter's wages. You don't have to pay more if you just want her to order pizza, but leave enough money for the pie.
* Transportation If you're not driving a sitter from and to her home, give her some extra money for gas or a cab.

The bottom line

In the end, you get what you pay for. When you hire a babysitter, pay her fairly to help establish a long, trusting relationship--and to make sure she's not lured away by a higher-paying neighbor.