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I am certain I am in the wrong career field. When I think about all I have been paying for babysitting service over the last few months, I have realized that other occupations -- namely babysitting -- is much, much more lucrative than what I do.

I am not referring to day care, just babysitting, the kind where you make prior arrangements with someone (usually a young woman high school or college age) to come to your home and watch your children while you do something else. Sometimes young parents (or, in our case, parents of young children) have several babysitters they choose from. But if you are really lucky, you have one regular babysitter both you and your children are fond of and who is almost always available when you need her.

We have a babysitter just like that. She’s a regular at our house, very regular. In fact, I have told her father that I am pretty certain I am the one putting her through college. If I could figure out a way, I would claim her as a dependent on my tax return.

She is at our house a lot this time of year because this is the time of year when my wife and I have to be out of the house a lot. Charitable events, community gatherings, church programs and volunteer commitments all seem to need us, and that means we need the babysitter.

The only problem with our babysitter occurs when we are on our way home. Inevitably, as we make our way home, my wife and I try to decide how much to pay her. Once we come to an agreement, we swing by the ATM so we can pay her when we walk in the house. Following the required report on behavior (or misbehavior), I hand the babysitter the money, always with a request. “That’s enough, isn’t it?” I ask. She always says yes, out of kindness, I think. It must be enough because she keeps coming back to watch the boys again and again.

We never are sure how much to pay. Minimum wage? What about for two boys under the age of 5? Do you pay more if she has to feed them? What about if you’re getting home late, and she has to put them to bed? What about the time when they are in bed? Should you pay the same amount after they go to bed? Is diapering and playing and feeding worth the same amount as texting and Netflix? I don’t know.

If someone wanted to really make a fortune, they would design some sort of phone app or software that helps poor (pun intended) parents like me figure out what in the world to pay the babysitter. I picture it like this: You punch in all of the details, times, activities and what the kids ate (after all, isn’t something that took real work like macaroni-and-cheese worth more than ordering pizza?) and it gives you the total of what you should pay the sitter.

My new kid-care calculator software would be super popular with parents everywhere. No longer would they underpay a babysitter, so she’d never come back, and there would be no more overpaying for child care, so you could afford to go out again. It’s the perfect solution. Besides, with each download of my software, I’d make a few bucks. That’s a good thing. My wife and I are going out tonight, and I need to pay the babysitter.

LES O’DELL is an average guy writing about life from his home in Carbondale. Visit him at www.lesodell.com.

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