Mother's Helper Fees? - Mothering Forums

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Old 04-14-2008, 03:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this has been discussed before, but I am looking for up-to-the-minute information, here.


My 13 y/o homeschooled daughter, who has been babysitting both professionally for several other families as well as informally within our own family for the past two years, has been offered a mother's helper position for a five month old baby.

The baby sleeps a lot and the baby's mother is asking my daughter to lower her usual rate by one dollar (so, down to $4 from $5 per hour) due mainly to this factor. My daughter has been receiving $5 per hour from all of her other babysitting jobs.

My daughter is hard-working and already has a busy life ~ let's just say that she has to be really picky about how she spends her time because there's more opportunities to choose from than there's time for. My point in mentioning this is that her time is really valuable to her and that her babysitting work involves being paid for her time in addition to her care services. I'm feeling that how her time is spent working for the different families that hire her is up to them, for the most part, but that the fee she charges should be up to her.


I'd love to receive some feedback on the current going rates (from a variety of geographical locations) as well as any feedback regarding the specific circumstances mentioned above.


Thanks in advance, mamas.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:10 AM
 
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Well, in this area (Chicago) mother's helpers would earn at least minimum wage, even given her age. So, I would stick to the $5.00 or even begin to raise it as she starts to work with new families. I agree with you that her time is valuable and she should be paid as such.
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Old 04-14-2008, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, Freud.


I should add that my daughter is not expected to 'work' during the time that the baby sleeps. The job allows for her to read a book or something else that's quiet and to just be 'on call' during that time. I don't know that this factor makes a difference to me, however, as her time is what's being paid for. The baby's mother expressed that this reason is mainly why she wants to pay only $4/hr.
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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How long does this woman want to employ your daughter? The child will not be 5 months old forever, and it will be difficult to raise her fees later on. Personally I find it far more difficult to babysit a 6 or 8 month old baby that I do one that is 18 months or two years old.

I'd probably be a little offended by the offer to reduce pay, to be honest. Daycare providers don't get paid less for daycare just because little ones take a nap in the afternoon, and I can't see any daycare provider entertaining this reduced rate offer for more than two seconds. But...that's just me.
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Old 04-14-2008, 11:40 AM
 
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I'm in central NY and began paying my mother's helper $4/hr when she started with our family 3.5 years ago. She was playing with my 2 yo ds1 at the time and I kept my 3 mo ds2 with me. When ds 2 was old enough to want to go play too, like a year or so later, I upped it to $5/hr. She set the original fee and probably would have been happy leaving it there, but I raised it since she would be working harder with two to keep track of. She's now watching all 3 of my kids for the same $5/hr. (FYI I would have paid $5/hr if that had been her going rate.)

I think your dd should stick to her rate. It is what her time is worth, regardless of what she's doing. She's being paid to care for the baby when s/he's awake and be on call when asleep. She's being paid for her time to be taken up either way. Plus, the baby will start to be awake more and more . . . at what point will the mother deem it appropriate to pay $5/hr? That's a gray area. It's much cleaner to state the rate, and stick to it. No exceptions. No additions to the rate for more children or subtractions for ones who are younger.

If the mother doesn't wish to pay she can always hire someone else.

Jen, mom of R (9), T (7), C (5), and E (2) ... my stillheart.gifs

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Old 04-14-2008, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the feedback, mamas. Those have been my thoughts as well. I really appreciate the daycare analogy ~ it really puts the situation in perspective. The job offer is for an indefinite time period and, yes, the baby is only going to grow and sleep less, etc. etc. with time.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jenmk
If the mother doesn't wish to pay she can always hire someone else.

I agree.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:57 PM
 
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I agree with teh pp. I think that $5 is reasonable if that's what she gets paid from everyone else. She's still there with the baby, even if he/she is sleeping and still keeping an eye on him/her. Her time is still valuable. I think they're tryign to take advantage of her.
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Old 04-14-2008, 12:57 PM
 
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I'm in MD and pay my mother's helper $6 an hour, up from $5 last year. Though if I were paying your dd during baby's downtime, I would expect her to clean/straighten up, etc.

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Old 04-15-2008, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies.


So, let's say that there isn't very much in the way of cleaning and straightening up for DD to do while the baby is sleeping. Do you think that constitutes the reduced fee? Should the caregiver's pay fluctuate relevant to whether the baby is asleep or awake? I am asking for the sake of clarity because there seems to be a lot of gray matter in this process.
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Old 04-15-2008, 04:16 PM
 
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Just wanted to chime in and say I was a nanny for a long time but I did mother's helper work as a younger teen. IMO, you make your fee based on what your time is worth to you. To your DD, that is $5 an hour. I do not think she should reduce her fee. The client can either pay the full fee or she can find someone else. I know that sounds rude but it doesn't have to be, a simple "Mrs. Smith that you so much for thinking of me to take care of baby Jordan but my base fee is $5 an hour, regardless of tasks. I would be happy to help with (name a few things that your DD would be willing to do while baby naps for base fee such as clean toys, organize books, do dishes ect..) while Jordan naps but I am unable to reduce my fee." Your daughter needs to stand up for herself, parents talk, it might get around that she reduced her fee and other people might ask. Sometimes you just have to let a client go if its not going to work out.

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Old 04-15-2008, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Very sensible advice, JennaW. I couldn't agree with you more. I've been telling my daughter the same things and, FWIW, she has been asserting this information to the employer the whole time they've been discussing it. I think that my daughter's staying centered in her truth will spare her of experiences that are unsuitable for her.
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Old 04-15-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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How long have they been "discussing it"? If this is becoming a long drawn out thing I think your DD should drop this client. Even if they decide to pay your DD the full fee (because DD won't budge) they might become resentful or just be unpleasant. Honestly I would not work for someone that made that big of a deal over my fee. Either its acceptable to them or it isn't. I respect that people have different views on what an acceptable fee is but I value my time so if we don't agree, no hard feelings but I'm not going to devalue my time for anyone.

Jenna in love with my DH Jon, loving our 2.5 year old, Caroline Tulip, and expecting another little one in August!
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Old 04-15-2008, 05:45 PM
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$5/hour is perfectly reasonable. It's less than the federal minimum wage, and it's technically not even legal to hire her, if the woman wants to get petty.

15 years ago, I was making $6-8/hour for babysitting. (But I also gave baths, cooked supper, and washed dishes)

ETA - it IS legal to hire a 13 yo for home work, but I think they still need to be paid minimum wage, which is $5.85 right now. ($4.25 for "special circumstances" http://www.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/003.htm )
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JennaW View Post
How long have they been "discussing it"? If this is becoming a long drawn out thing I think your DD should drop this client. Even if they decide to pay your DD the full fee (because DD won't budge) they might become resentful or just be unpleasant. Honestly I would not work for someone that made that big of a deal over my fee. Either its acceptable to them or it isn't. I respect that people have different views on what an acceptable fee is but I value my time so if we don't agree, no hard feelings but I'm not going to devalue my time for anyone.


You know, I am wondering about this very thing and feel the same way, JennaW.


The woman and DD discussed the fee initially through emails in which the woman outlined the duties and my daughter told her the hourly fee she was willing to work for. The woman then asked for her to go down to the $4 based on what she sees as justifiable reasons such as frequently sleeping baby, only one child and not the several-per-family that my daughter has worked for in exchange for the $5 per hour otherwise (as the woman learned of through phoning the references DD gave her), etc. (and, again, I and my daughter were and are clear that these reasons do not equal lower pay by our definitions and are sticking to that). My daughter then said that, no, she still wants to be paid $5 per hour. The woman then agreed to pay the $5 for our initial trial babysitting date (which happened a couple of days ago). All went well during the trial and then, when driving my daughter home, she asked her to reconsider the $4/hr. payment.

So, in all, she has brought this up two times and I, too, am concerned and advising my daughter to be clear about her needs in this situation in case the woman hires her but gets weird about anything afterward.

I should also mention that, when driving my daughter home, the woman told DD that she likes to give tips and plans on tipping DD for her services. This was a new concept to me (for babysitting) but not a issue, nonetheless, however I found it not to be a suitable replacement for the fair & set hourly wage because it gives the power of arbitrary discretion to the woman for whether or not DD is fairly compensated for her work. I feel like, if it works for her, the woman should just figure her 'tip' into the extra dollar per hour she pays DD as a way to define things in her thinking, if that suits her.


llamalluv, those are really good points. Thank you.


This whole thing has certainly been an exercise in healthy limit assertion and, if it ends up working out, will probably continue to be.


I really appreciate the feedback, mamas. It helps to hear other people's experiences and perspectives immensely.
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Old 04-16-2008, 01:17 AM
 
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IMO the woman is being very rude by continuing to bring it up. Once a fee is agreed upon that is final IMO unless something about the situation changes dramatically (such as an additional child or asking the caregiver to take on many more tasks such as scrubbing bathrooms during nap time, which in either case would mean more $$ for your DD).

As for the tipping, I think this used to be a common custom in babysitting but is not so much anymore. I only had one client that tipped me and they were just overally generous in general. I agree with you, if she plans on tipping then why not just pay the extra $1 per hour? I don't want to make assumptions about this woman's financial situation but for the sake of argument I will (and I know I will probably get flamed). If she has enough money to hire a "mothers helper" then she can probably afford the $5 an hour which is a pretty low fee in the scope of babysitting. It seems like she just feels that since your DD isn't "working" during the nap time that she should lower her fee. But the thing is that no matter what your DD is doing, its still eating up her time, she is not "free" to do as she wishes, so she is "working" just not in the sense of spending time with an awake baby. Would it be okay to only pay a receptionist for the times she is taking calls? Of course not because sitting at that desk waiting for calls takes up the receptionists time. Even if she is free to read a book or surf the net in the "down time" she is still entitled to full hourly pay.

I'm getting all worked up about this, LOL but I think you can see my point! Good luck and I agree that its a great lesson for your DD about asking for what she wants and standing up for herself!

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Old 04-16-2008, 09:46 AM
 
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I hope your daughter stays firm on her rate of $5. Years ago, I babysat for a family that told me, after we had agreed on a price and I'd arrived at their home, that I should let them know when the kids went to sleep because they only pay half price after the children are asleep. And yeah, I was a snotty teenager, so I replied that I only live down the block and I hoped the kids could yell loud enough for me to hear them from my home if they woke because I didn't work for half-price. I realize mother's helper is different, but it's the time commitment that your daughter is making that she could lose out on potentially better paying positions.
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Old 04-16-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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wow, I am shocked that she would expect a 20% reduction in fee b/c the baby sleeps some - that will be over quickly, and then what?

I babysat a ton at that age and loved it. Most people would figure out the amount and round up to the nearest 5, I think. I didn't expect nor receive tips that I remember. I really loved taking care of their children and usually it was a great bonus that I earned money doing it.

I do remember one family who offered $2 per hour. It didn't last, because they didn't value what I was doing. It wasn't the money, it was the attitude. One time the woman paid me partially with rolled pennies, and another time the actual time was to the half-hour and she gave me the whole $2 but said I owed her 1/2 an hour next time. Yeah, that definitely didn't last.

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Old 04-16-2008, 02:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hippiechickinsing View Post
I hope your daughter stays firm on her rate of $5. Years ago, I babysat for a family that told me, after we had agreed on a price and I'd arrived at their home, that I should let them know when the kids went to sleep because they only pay half price after the children are asleep. And yeah, I was a snotty teenager, so I replied that I only live down the block and I hoped the kids could yell loud enough for me to hear them from my home if they woke because I didn't work for half-price. I realize mother's helper is different, but it's the time commitment that your daughter is making that she could lose out on potentially better paying positions.
That's hilarious!

:

To the OP: sounds like this job might be more trouble than it's worth, especially if your daughter has other options.
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Old 04-16-2008, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, drats, mamas -- I just had a long reply all typed out and then our whole house power went off . . . again. I'm afraid to type it out again because the power's been going off and on all day today (some city-wide issue going on). Anyway, I want to say thank you again for all the reassurance and sharing of personal experience. It's been so helpful.


hippiechickinsing, that is an awesome story and what a clear-minded teen it sounds like you were!
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Old 04-16-2008, 06:44 PM
 
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my 2 cents is I made 5.00 an hour 20 years ago as a mother helper for ONE infant. I think this lady should look elsewhere.
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