Paying A Babysitter $5 An Hour To Watch Two Kids Is Ridiculous

By  | 

200223215-001Child care of any kind is getting ridiculously expensive these days, so I understand wanting to cut corners when you can. But I really cannot understand one blogger’s confession that she pays her babysitter $5 an hour to watch two children. And I really can’t understand her justification for it.

The blogger penned an article for The Huffington Post, outlining her “take it or leave it” policy. She’s found children who are willing to work for that amount of money, but felt she needed to explain herself after she encountered some “eye-rolling” for being “way below the curve of what people are paying in [her] neighborhood.” She writes:

My position is that it is not a terribly hard job: I don’t expect them to be the mom, I expect them to watch a movie with my kids and feed them a little pre-made dinner. Probably almost exactly what they would be doing at home for free. If I could afford to pay them more, I would expect them to do more, like clean my house, make the dinner and do the dishes. But I know my budget, so I tell them that I don’t expect much extra and pray that it will go smoothly for them. If I had a new baby, I would pay extra for the inevitable emotional drain and possible sore muscles from carrying the baby. If I had really intense or difficult kids, I would pay them more because they would have earned more (and just to make sure they are willing to come back).

When you leave your children with someone – they are the stand-in parent. Whether they are a 15-year-old or a trained professional, they are performing the same function; keeping your child safe, fed, happy and alive. This is not “exactly what they would be doing at home.”

She justifies her position by claiming the “going rate” is more than families can afford, so babysitters aren’t getting as much work as they used to. I agree that babysitting rates can be very, very expensive. We couldn’t find one for less than $20 an hour when we lived in New York, so we rarely used one. But when pitching a number to a child – why not at least attempt to pay minimum wage? There is a big difference between not being able to afford the “going rate” and intentionally underpaying because you can.

In my day, my siblings and I would do anything to earn a little extra money. We were desperate. Lemonade stands, selling fruit from our orchard door to door… That creative ability to solve my money problems has led me all over the work-world… Desperation begets creativity. Creatively solving problems gives kids confidence to do more. Confidence in doing more leads to success. Overpaying kids upends the whole cycle.

Seriously? It’s one thing to totally underpay a child who is willing to work for that amount – quite another to pretend like your doing said child a favor by underpaying her. I’ll just leave you with this; I was paid $5 and hour to watch one child in 1989. 

(photo: Getty Images)