When I was 13, I babysat for a family down the street from me most Friday nights. While they went out to dinner and a movie, I wrangled their three monsters angels into pajamas, fed them their chicken nuggets, and eventually read each a story, rocked the baby, and put them to bed. By the time the parents got home, I was spent, wiped, totally exhausted, and for my efforts, I received a whopping $12 -- that's $1.25 an hour. For three kids.
Times have changed, it seems.
A nanny hired by a Russian family in London is being paid $200,000 for her services. And while that isn't the "norm," the norm is still business class plane seats, a fully appointed apartment, regular trips abroad, a car, and around $75,000 all for the care of the wealthiest children around the world.
To me, it makes a lot of sense.
I don't have a full-time nanny, nor do I have $200,000 to spare even if I did. But I do know that even as a 13-year-old neighborhood kid, I was vastly underpaid. The job is hard, so incredibly hard. And you get what you pay for in terms of loyalty and performance.
What parent doesn't want a nanny who loves his or her children as much as he or she does? And if not that, at least a nanny who knows his or her stuff? Many nannies today also speak more than one language, have degrees in child psychology or early childhood education, and have made a career out of this kind of childcare. Why shouldn't they be paid for their expertise?
The fact is, all the parents I know pay the grad students and college students who watch our children anywhere between $12 and $20 an hour. Even that seems like a steal on the days when I open the door still in my pajamas and she takes them to the museum, park, and then out to ice cream all while I have a leisurely morning to myself. They come home happy and I feel confident that they're feeling good and enjoying themselves.
We all need to leave our kids on occasion and hiring someone to care for them is terrifying, even under the best of circumstances. So why would we not pay top dollar for the best person if we can afford it? If I could hire a $200,000 nanny, I would in a minute and I have no doubt she would earn every penny.
We need to value childcare as a profession more in our culture. The people who do it well are worth every penny.
How much do you pay sitters?
Image via barb.howe/Flickr