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Quia Querisma Headshot

If You Offer My 15-Year-Old $5/hr to Babysit Your Kids, I'm Judging You

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jo unruh via Getty Images
jo unruh via Getty Images

A friend of mine just shared Jan Francisco's Huffpo blog post entitled "What to Pay the Babysitter." I was interested in her perspective because I have a 15-year-old daughter who is interested in babysitting, but we really haven't determined any fixed rates for her. As of right now, her only client has been a charming 5-year-old named Ava, whose parents are good friends of mine. When they asked what they should pay my daughter, I told them to pay as they see fit. The rate shook out to be about $10/hour to be hands-on with Ava: color, play dolls, make snacks (or heat up a pre-made dinner), and send her to bed on time. I found Ava's parents to be very generous with their rate, but they felt like it was worth it to have someone around that they knew and trusted -- a responsible young teen who was well-liked by their child.

Imagine my shock when I arrived at Jan's statement that she offered babysitters $5/hour for two children. Maybe my perception is a little warped because I was one of the parents who actually used Adventure Kids Playcare in the past, and the times that was too pricey, I hired a woman in my neighborhood to the tune of $8/hour. That was in 2008 and my kids were 7 and 9 at the time. I'll preface that my children are an absolute cakewalk. There was the time when my eldest was in fourth grade and I got the flu. I was so sick that I opened my bedroom door at 7 a.m., told them mommy's sick and can't take them to school, closed the door, and didn't see them again until 9 p.m. During my illness-induced coma, they kept their noise levels to a minimum, fixed their own meals (granted, it was frozen waffles/cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, Ramen for dinner), took their evening showers and went to bed on time! I was stricken to say the least, but it gave me a good frame of reference of their predilection to follow rules though unsupervised.

My point is, even with children as obedient as mine, I couldn't fathom offering someone $5/hour to babysit both of them. It's less about "I'm paying you to make fish sticks and fries and watch Victorious," than it is about having someone on-site who you can be assured won't invite over friends while you're away; spend the entire time texting while your children either fight or eat cookies for dinner; prompts them at bath time and makes sure they get to bed in a timely fashion so they're not total zombies in the morning.

I share Jan's sentiment that today's teenagers have a colossal sense of entitlement and want grand spoils for very little effort, but there are some things I keep in perspective. My children don't receive an allowance for chores because they ought to maintain the space in which they live. They get $5 - $10 for chores and odd jobs at my mother's house because that is outside of their realm of responsibility. I also pay between $10 - $15 for "A" grades in core classes at school.

The work available for kids under 16 is limited and oftentimes grunt work. I get that. A local kid wants to mow my lawn? I'll give him $20 for the front and back. A car wash is $5. The difference is that caring for a person is completely different and I think, at the very least, minimum wage is appropriate -- for the first child, with $2 - $3 extra per additional child. I'm game for Jan's option of the sitter doing a bit of housework for an extra few bucks, but that's not what I hired him or her to do. I hired that person as the responsible party present while my precious darlings mind themselves; to have the wherewithal to offer some mint tea in case of a stomach ache; and take away their cellphones if they happen to be texting in bed after lights out.

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Quia Querisma is a digital marketer by day, freelance writer by night, and a traveler by nature. Get her latest insights on travel and fashion on her blog, MyJetSetStyle.com.