It seems like a parental dream: A college-educated babysitter shows up, leads your kids through homework, dinnertime and a masterpiece art project, cleans the house and then gives you a report card of how the evening went.
This dream can be a reality thanks to high-end babysitting services in New York City, but it comes at a price -- up to $33 an hour.
That's more than twice the rate NYC parents typically shell out for sitters. And it's a far cry from the paid-in-pizza, put-the-kids-in-front-of-a-TV approach many suburban families are used to.
Sitters Studio, a network of more than 100 caretakers in New York and Chicago, charges about $25 for one child, and the rate goes up depending on how many kids are at home. There's also a $20 booking fee each time a parent reserves a sitter and a four-hour minimum.
That means for one night out, a one-child family would pay $120.
Kristina Wilson, Sitters Studio's CEO, said that while the cost is high, parents are getting a lot for their money. All their sitters are required to show up ten minutes early with a tote bag filled with "artistic toys," abide by a no-TV policy, and they are required to make sure all homework and household tasks are complete.
Plus, because the company doesn't pay sitters in cash, the service is able to provide families with full documentation of what they paid. This means they can apply for Child and Dependent Care credit on federal tax returns.
"On top of the picking children up from school and mealtime, the kids will get a unique artistic experience every time," she said. "If our sitter works with a child to come up with a ballet or a piece of art made out of recycled materials, at the end of the night, they will fill out a report card to let the parent know what they created and how it helped with self-esteem and general creative thinking."
A number of babysitting services have cropped up to capitalize on the high price parents are willing to pay.
Hamptons Babysitters, established to cater to vacationing families in the famed, ritzy beach towns on New York's Long Island, sets parents up with CPR-certified sitters who are 18 and over, have passed background checks, and are guaranteed to show up on time.
"We usually get families who maybe don't have their nannies or usual sitters out at the beach, but want to be able to go out and leave their children with a sitter they can trust," said Chloe Laundrie, a 22-year-old Hamptons Babysitter who just graduated college with a degree in elementary education. She is now running the service's business end as well.
There's a three-hour minimum, and the service charges $25 an hour for one child, and $33 for three. On top of this, there's a $25 booking fee.
These rates are shockingly high, even given the fact that babysitters in New York are ranked the most expensive in the country.
The average hourly rate for one child in New York is $15.34, according to a survey of 7,500 families conducted by UrbanSitter. That's $1.21 more per hour than the national average, and even beats out babysitter rates in other big cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles. D.C. and Boston.
By comparison, the national average hourly pay for preschool teachers is $15.11, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- and that's for teaching a whole class. And of course, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
Laundrie said that parents don't seem to mind the cost.
"I hear moms say they can't put a price on childcare," she said. "Even though the [rates] are a little bit higher, they understand most of the time."