Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Am I Worth It?

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. :(


Anonymous said...

As you said, you were upfront about your fees - and that's that. No need to feel guilty about any of it.

Trina said...

Whenever I feel bad about charging for babysitting, I just remind myself of the other services these parents gladly pay for without questioning the cost. Lawn care for example. They would pay a kid without a college education, or CPR training , or any training for that matter, $30 to mow their lawn, a job that would probably take at most an hour. But they are going to grapple about paying a sitter $10 an hour? The person they entrusted to care for their most precious earthly possessions, THEIR CHILDREN?! Somewhere along the way, people got the idea into their heads that this is supposed to be a free service. But just like everyone else, a baby sitter has to pay the bills. Don't feel bad about charging for babysitting, your time and experience are worth it.

Daisy said...

You sounds awesome. If you move to Wisconsin, call me. I'll hire you. You're worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

I'd hire you in a heartbeat! You could teach the girls to dance too. I pay 12 bucks an hour - but I have four kids. I always feel like my sitters work for every last penny, especially when Rowinsane is involved.

Aussie Boy said...

Um supply and demand? Basics.

In the beautiful little capitalist economy that is the USA you stick your barcode on your butt, set your price, and if someone's happy to pay then you've made a sale.

However if you're worried that your price may restrict you to a niche market of parent clientelle, perhaps you could think about a sliding hourly rate based not on what you provide in the service, but based upon the client's ability to pay. Of course this does have a wiff of socialism to it; so unless you 're a no-good, two-bit, commie, terrorist, traitor, un-American, flag-burning, non-oreo-eating, scar on the face of the governator's great state of California: I'd just bitch-slap that conscience of yours before it gets you a set of orange overalls and room with a view at Guantanamo.

On a different note, regarding the title of this post, the answer is "No". This is based on a new translation of the prophecies of Nostradamus, who is now said to have predicted "There will be a revolution in global communications, and people will keep journals in open view. Further there will be one in particular, written by a young woman called Lara. This blog, as they will be known, will suck."

Aimee said...

If it weren't a fair price, they wouldn't pay it. I'm sure they are aware that there are other (less expensive) options.

Finding someone you trust is far more important than what you'd pay. I'd pay plenty for peace of mind (hell, I only trust two people to take care of my pets!) lol

Major Bedhead said...

I wouldn't hate you for charging that much, I just couldn't afford to hire you. I can't afford to hire anyone right now, so it's a moot point.

I don't think I'd need someone as qualified as you are to watch my kids while I went out to dinner. CPR, yes. Three languages, not so much.

But yeah, you told her how much you charge, she was fine with that so I don't see any reason for you to feel guilty, for taking her money OR for charging that much.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what your Australian, pre-pubescent male--if his moniker is biologically accurate--companion writes. As a talented and well-trained nanny, you really should be paid much more than $10 or $12 an hour, just as well-educated, intelligent, hard-working teachers should be paid more that what most receive. But of course not many parents can afford a more appropriate rate; in particular, the nanny system works on the principle that the nanny makes substantially less than the least-compensated adult, the difference in pay and benefits being precisely the monetary benefit of a job relative to staying home with the kids. If you do not charge considerably more to wealthy parents, I hope they tip you handsomely. Babysitting is, after all, your livelihood, and with that income you must pay the bills, save for retirement, and so on.

Aussie Boy said...

m. morris I'll have you know that after handing over $10 to Scott (one of the 9th graders) I'm now the proud owner of a bag of pubes; so there's no need to deem me "pre-pubescent" any longer.

Bonus points to the first person knowing Scott's last name.

Double bonus points if anyone can explain to me how a picture of my 21 year old head (taken in 2000, you do the math) cut-n-pasted to the suit-wearing body of Harvey Keitel from Reservoir Dogs makes me look pre-pubescent?

Anonymous said...

Oh pick me! Pick me! Is it because he /she thinks you're a d*ckhead and so having a shaven head makes you appear pre-pubescent?

Anonymous said...

As Lara violently swung at Laos Llama with a golf club he exclaimed: "This blog..." (ducks).

Anonymous said...

m. morris was referring to your username, Aussie Boy.

Learn the language or go back to where you came from.

Aussie Boy said...

mon-i-ker: –noun Slang.
a person's name, esp. a nickname or alias.

Dictionaries - helping people know what the hell they're talking about since 1979.

Anonymous said...

Ignoring the random comments flying to and fro above me, I will just say that the answer to the title of the post is most definitely yes. =)

Mrs. Chili said...

Here's my thinking; my children are the most precious thing in the world to me. Is it worth $10, $25, $40 bucks an hour to know that they're safe and well cared for? Is it important to know that the person with my children when I'm not is going to pay attention to them (and not just stick them in front of the computer or the t.v.)? Is it important to know that, should something drastic happen, that my caregiver would be able to handle the situation in the best interests of my children?

You bet your patootie it is!

Wolf Lover Girl said...

I think it's well worth it for your extra skills (CPR etc). At first I wasn't impressed with the language thing but when you mentioned the mom spoke French and the kid wanted you to read a book in French it changed my mind.

You told the mom upfront, and if you told her of your skills I'm sure that played into her choice as well. It is, after all, her choice and she choose you. Be guilty no more!

~ Wolf Lover Girl

Anonymous said...

For what you have to offer and the fact that you were upfront with them concerning your fee, I think it's completely fair.

Lara said...

thanks, everyone. i think i just needed assurance. :) as many of you have pointed out, she did have a choice, so i wasn't being unfair. thanks for all your words!