Thursday, January 2, 2014

"What to Pay the Babysitter" by Jan Francisco

A friend recently shared an interesting Huffington Post article by blogger Jan Francisco, "What to Pay the Babysitter."  Beyond the obvious topic of 'what to pay the babysitter', this article also highlights the importance of such first time job opportunities for teens, and how they influence the developing job expectations, pay scales, and the general work ethic of young adults.

My initial reaction to this article is that we grossly over-pay our babysitters, particularly during the evening hours when they are only "working" half the total time (until children are in bed), while they are free to read, watch TV, etc for the remainder....

As a side note, given the amount of free time they have post-bed time, isn't it reasonable to expect them to ensure kitchen is clean, toys picked up, etc.?  I would assume that for anyone with half a work ethic, this would just seem obvious.  I cannot imagine NOT doing this back when I used to babysit!  Yet, I have found that if you do not specifically request this, only about half of the sitter pool actually takes the initiative to do this.  Perhaps they have no responsibilities of their own at home?  Perhaps they never have to clean up after themselves?  Perhaps they are just lazy.  Who knows?

On the other hand, in defense of the 'slackers', these are likely their first jobs, and along with their growing maturity, there is an inevitable learning curve in terms of expectations, responsibilities, and yes, work ethic.  I thought it was interesting that Francisco discusses the importance of clear communication between parents and babysitters when it comes to exactly WHICH tasks are expected to be completed, for a corresponding level of pay.  It never occurred to me that it might be reasonable to expect less fringe tasks (such as making dinner, cleaning up, baths, etc) and therefore pay less, making an evening out much more affordable.  I am not sure how many sitters would be agreeable to this, but it is an interesting concept!

Nevertheless, I do believe that with three small children (who often wear their Tasmanian Devil hats) and all of the work required to feed, clean-up, prepare for bedtime, CORRAL them into bed, etc., our sitters are earning every cent.  Additionally, without any family living in town, we are completely dependent on our sitters for any relief whatsoever....So, I am happy to pay them well to ensure they come back!  Not to mention, these are our CHILDREN they are looking after, so of course we want them to feel fairly compensated.

Yet, this article did make me wonder whether I might be hampering their motivation to go out and get their first 'real' job of hostessing, waitressing, lifeguarding, counselor-ing, etc., since I likely pay more than many of these 'real' jobs, when considering after-tax implications.  I can only hope (for their sake, not mine) that they will eventually outgrow their interest in babysitting and enjoy other aspects only these 'real' jobs can offer like peer socialization, resume building, networking, internship opportunities, etc.

Without further ramblings, I wanted to share the link to this article.  It is an interesting read for all parents! Enjoy!

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