Almost three out of four (72%) mums will have two to three nights out over the festive season, spending between €20 and €50 a night on babysitters.
Parenting website MummyPages.ie found that almost half of parents (46%) paid their babysitter an hourly rate of €10.
Worryingly, the survey also highlighted a lack of clarity on what babysitters should do in an emergency. Most survey respondents (86%) said they did not tell babysitters what steps to take in a crisis situation.
Three out of four mothers (76%) have already booked a babysitter for key nights over Christmas.
Major nights this Christmas include the work party (52%), the girls’ night out (42%), and St Stephen’s Night (26%).
However, finding a suitable babysitter is not easy —55% of parents have difficulty finding a suitable babysitter and 20% admitted poaching a babysitter from friends or family members.
When it comes to paying a babysitter, 65% pay a nightly rate, with 50% forking out between €40 and €50.
Fees vary considerably depending on location — babysitters in Dublin can expect to receive a nightly rate of €45, or €10.50 an hour, compared to €32 in Limerick, or €7.10 an hour.
The hourly rate in Cork is €9.75 and the nightly payment is €40. In Galway, the hourly rate is €8.10 and the nightly rate, €38.
More than a third of parents (35%) pay a nightly rate of €30, 28% pay €50, 22% pay €40 and 15% pay €20. The hourly rate varies between €5 (11%) and €15 (2%).
Most babysitters are aged 16 years (56%). Almost one in four (24%) is aged 18. Just 3% are aged 14, while 17% are 15 years old.
The survey of almost 800 mums conducted towards the end of last month found that 71% of parents will need a babysitter over Christmas.
But of the 29% who do not need a babysitter, 26% said it was too expensive, 63% rely on family, and 25% prefer being at home with friends or family.
More than three quarters of mums (77%) agree on a time to return home with their babysitter — 47% are home before midnight, 35% before 1am, while 18% party until 2am or later.
Half of the mums supply lots of snacks and goodies to keep their babysitter happy. More than a third (36%) allow babysitters to watch pay-per-view movies.
However, their children’s safety is paramount — 60% would not allow their babysitter to have friends over while looking after their children, while 79% would not let their babysitter to bring a boyfriend or girlfriend over.
MummyPages.ie mum-in-residence Laura Haugh said that while babysitting fees could make a night out very expensive, cost was not a factor when it came to children’s safety.
“The more important factors, such as trust, familiarity, and reliability outweighed the cost of a baby sitter by a significant amount,” said Ms Haugh.
However, she said she was shocked that eight out of 10 mums had not discussed the emergency procedures their babysitter should follow in the event of a medical issue, a fire, or break-in.
“With many of our mums’ babysitters aged 15 to 16 years old, it’s even more important to highlight a simple plan of action in the event of an emergency as they certainly wouldn’t have the life experience necessary to deal with it on their own,” said Ms Haugh.
“Interestingly, two-thirds of mums pay their babysitter a nightly rate and while that might be easier than calculating hours worked after a few glasses of wine, we would suggest that this is agreed in principal, before the night starts, to avoid inadvertently overpaying at the end of the night.”