Recently, my favorite country radio station asked listeners if they thought you should have to pay your parent(s) to babysit their grandchildren. Many listeners said that the grandparents should be happy for the extra time with their grandchildren and that no payment is necessary. But, as a frequent baby sitter for my 4-year-old nephew, I have a different opinion.
I am no stranger to babysitting. As the oldest of four siblings (okay, okay, I’m only three minutes older than my twin..but it still counts) I’ve been babysitting and helping my mother with my siblings since I was in my early teens. I was never paid to stay home with my siblings, unless you count my weekly chore allowance. I was expected to help with my siblings as needed and I wasn’t required to babysit more than once a weekend or even every two weeks.
My little brother is now 16 and while I still help drive him around to his billions of sports practices and games, I thought my babysitting days were long over. That all changed when my nephew began sleeping over at my dad’s house two to three nights a week. My Dad has been expecting me to watch my 4 year old nephew for free as well and, on many occasions, make him breakfast and drive him to daycare (which is 45 minutes away) the next day.
Both my father and my stepmother work full-time, so when they come home with the baby they are tired and rely on my siblings and me to help. My stepmother will come home, go up to her room, and leave the baby downstairs with us for hours at a time. This can be irritating because we have not been asked or agreed to babysitting. My nephew is a pretty rowdy 4 year old and he can be hard to handle. While I don’t mind helping out once in a while, it’s started to become a nuisance. My stepsister and I aren’t very close, and while I’ve talked to her about the inconvenience of the situation, she has never made an effort to make any changes. Technically my Dad and stepmother are babysitting, so she doesn’t see the problem. Like many others, she feels her parents should be happy spending time with the baby and it should be free care.
Since I primarily work from home, my Dad sees me as having a lot of free time. I have three different jobs, so I do work all day and am as tired as anyone with a full-time job…I just happen to work from home. While I love spending time with my nephew, it’s becoming overwhelming and is affecting my finances. Recently, my Dad asked me to turn down a paying babysitting job to help him. Because of this, and the frequency that I’m expected to babysit, I’ve started to put my foot down about doing it for free. What do you think?