Praise and Payment
There are two ways to keep a great babysitter coming back: compliments and cash. Upon your return, thank her for picking up the toys or praise her for getting the kids to eat a decent lunch. You're her boss and she's your employee, so treat her with respect when it's earned. On that note, I'm always horrified when I hear of parents paying babysitters less than minimum wage. An individual who cares for children should be paid more than the person who bags burgers. Paying your sitter what she deserves also demonstrates that you value her work, respect her, and want her to come back again. Like a waitress who gets a lousy tip, an underpaid babysitter will feel like she did a poor job or that her employer is angry.
If you have more than one child, tack on an extra one to two dollars an hour per sibling. Infant care is generally more demanding, so are big duties like dinner, baths, and bedtime, and payment should reflect the difficulty of the job. If she drives herself to and from your house, throw in a couple of bucks for gas and the trip you were saved. Many moms complain that once a young lady gets an afterschool job, she'll no longer accept babysitting gigs: that's only because she's making more money waiting tables or bagging groceries. If you really love your babysitter, match her pay appropriately to keep her coming back.