A little while back, Julie over at Mothergoosemouse posted about wanting a date with her husband. It was a good post, but I think I got distracted from the point when she mentioned the "racket" of $10 an hour babysitting. It certainly makes going out for dates more difficult, since it probably triples or quadruples the cost of a night out. But as I went out to babysit that very weekend, I began to wonder if the guilt I suddenly felt about charging for babysitting was really warranted.
I charge more than $10 an hour - the actual cost isn't important, but it's more than $10. I know it's a lot of money, I do. But here's what they're paying for:
I have an undergraduate degree from Stanford, and I'm less than a week away from having a Master's degree from Stanford.
I speak three languages at a fluent or intermediate level, and I can speak a smattering of about five others. (That actually turned out to matter here, as the mother is French, and the child had multiple books he handed me to read that happened to be written in French.)
I have about two years of experience in professional childcare, and many more years experience in occasional babysitting.
I'm CPR certified for infants, toddlers, and adults.
And most importantly, I love little kids, and generally, they love spending time with me too.
I have tons of other skills, but they start being useful for longer-term childcare more than once-in-a-while work like this was. And on top of all that, I brought my camera and took lots of good pictures (with the parents' permission, of course) which I then gave them to have as framed prints. (Hence the pics on this post.) I'm not just a random 15-year-old from down the street - I'm a professional.
But the bigger issue is this: I know there are plenty of 15-year-olds around who can be hired to watch this toddler. And I know they charge much less than I do. I was upfront from the very beginning about what I charged, and they chose to hire me anyway. If it was worth it to them to pay my fee, am I being unfair in charging them?
I found myself, when taking the money at the end of the night, feeling almost a little guilty as Julie's post went through my mind. Was I running a "racket"? Was I a form of "highway robbery"? Rationally, I decided that no, I wasn't. I told this mother what I charged, which I believed was fair given what I had to offer, and she chose to hire me. She had cheaper options and she chose to hire me anyway. That is not in any way unfair.
Somehow, I'm still afraid all the mommybloggers out there would hate me. :(