BABYSITTING CAN BE
My wife and I babysat our little six month old granddaughter
last Saturday night. She was dropped off at 6 pm, and not picked up until
9 am the next morning. It was her first sleepover with us.
"Do you think it's rude of me to send our daughter and
son-in-law an invoice for $300.00?" I asked after they were gone and
our house was back to normal.
"For what?" she cluelessly replied.
"For babysitting," I said. "15 hours at $20.00
per hour is $300.00. That's what it would have cost them with anyone else.
But since we're grandparents, we should probably offer a discount."
We had only recently learned the exorbitant cost of
childcare. The days of finding a teenager to babysit for $2.50 per hour
were long gone. Those greedy little cretins were now getting $20.00 per
hour to be on their phones and watch television while their client napped
or was asleep for the night.
"She slept for 12 of the 15 hours," my wife added.
"And you didn't lift a finger for the three hours she was awake, so I
don't think you deserve anything."
"That's not fair," I answered. "Now that she's
six months old, I kind of find her interesting. She's not a blob anymore.
I actually tried to play with her, so I do deserve something. And as for
sleeping 12 hours, remember the night nurse?"
I was referring to a present we gave to our daughter a couple
of weeks after giving birth. She and our son-in-law were both exhausted
from being up all night with a hungry, crying baby, so we paid for a woman
to come to their house from 10 pm to 6 am and take care of the baby so
they could get some much needed sleep.
It wasn't until a few days later that I found out the cost:
$320.00. Yep, $40.00 per hour, and our little granddaughter had a career
night and only woke up once. Not only that, she woke up the second time at
6 am, right after the night nurse scooted away with her winnings.
Childcare has become quite the cash cow. My daughter stayed
at home for the first four months and, after exhausting the two weeks of
maternity pay from her employer, relied on approximately 60% of her salary
that she received from the government for maternity leave. Then it was
So she had a choice---stay at home, get her husband to quit
his job and stay home, or arrange for daycare. After four months at home,
she was one of those mothers (bless them all) who couldn't wait to get
back to work. Separation anxiety wasn't going to be a problem. After
babysitting a couple of times early on, I certainly understood.
Since her husband was happily pursuing his own career, they
chose daycare. First they tried "nanny share," where you team up
with another parent and share a nanny who comes to your house or the other
parent's house. The cost is about $125 per day. Per child.
My daughter did this for a few weeks after returning to work,
before finally getting the news that they'd been accepted into a daycare
center. They were thrilled, because for only $2000 per month they would
have more flexibility, since the hours ranged from 7 am to 6 pm. (The
nanny share lady was at her wits end by 4 pm).
The cost does go down slightly as the child gets older. The
law requires one caretaker for every three infants because they're so
incredibly needy, but the ratio changes after a year or two. Paying
"only" $1650 a month or so becomes a bargain.
This is for one child. Imagine the parents who have two
children, or three. Childcare no longer becomes an option for many of
them. It doesn't make a lot of sense to go to work every day and make less
than what you're paying for childcare.
On the other hand, after babysitting my new granddaughter a
few times, I'd probably consider it. There are few things in life more
exhausting than taking care of a cranky infant.
That makes it easier to accept the costs for the nanny share,
the daycare attendants, and even the night nurse working the midnight
hours. They deserve every penny they earn.
The teenagers are another story. They should be arrested for
price fixing, at least in our area. Charging $20 per hour to some poor,
vulnerable parents who just want a "date night" is outrageous.
However, grandparents certainly deserve that kind of money.
The invoice is in the mail.