Wednesday, November 03, 2010

You could make bank with a baby hotel and I know this because Jon Stewart gave Betty the flu

So, listen. This is not something I could ever do, because children, ew.

I mean, I love mine with all my heart. But other people's children? Are sticky. And screamy. And have boogersnots. And just ew.

Which is not to say that mine isn't and doesn't. He is and does. He's just, you know, mine.

But look at that little grub. He rolls in the dirty laundry every chance he gets.

So here's the deal: Betty went to the rally on Saturday with Maude's mom. And then yesterday morning she called us, too sick to come over and hang out with our progeny. She's got the flu. She still sounds terrible.

Nick was all, "She got it from one of the millions of people at the rally. She took metro. I bet she held onto the pole with her bare hand and then touched her nose."

I imagined this short video of hand to pole to nose playing over and over.

So Betty is sick-abed, and Nick couldn't stay home for more than a few hours yesterday morning. So I gathered material at the office and headed home. For what turns out to be the rest of the week.

But not before calling one of those emergency nanny services, who I thought I'd just hire for a couple days. This nearly made me pass out.

Because. Listen.

OK, yes, having your kid well cared for in a pinch? Priceless. Of course. Of course.

But if you want prices? Here's the breakdown.

Signing up to be a client for a year, which means you can call them at any time and they'll find you a nanny: $100. Daily fee if you schedule in advance: $35. This is per day, even if you're going to have the same person two days in a row. Then the nanny charges $16-20 per hour. She quotes her rate when she calls you. If it's too high for you, you are free to ask the agency for someone else.

Ready? This makes $170 to the agency. (Although to be fair, the $100 does last for the year.) Plus nanny fees ranging from $288-$360, depending on her hourly rate.

Total? Somewhere between $458-$520. For two days of care.

I'm not saying caregivers shouldn't be compensated. I just wasn't ready for the numbers.

So I headed into my boss's office and asked if I could take the next two days off. Or work from home while J is napping. I can get things done during his three-hour afternoon nap and at night.

My boss, who has kids and knows how it all goes and really just wants you to get your work done, said sure. Which is wonderful.

But if you didn't work at a family-friendly place? Or for someone understanding? Or make boatloads of cash?

You'd be screwed.


  1. This would never happen in France.

    Kisses to Betty (from across the room - don't catch that mess). Hope she's up at running soon.

  2. If you didn't have Betty, I'd totally come be Jordan's nanny.

    But I'd make you find me a husband. Then I'd get married and have a baby and well - then where would you be?

  3. freckledk - I know. People can say what they want about France, but there's a lot to be said for state-subsidized child care. Plus, um, you get to live in France! Which I would love!

    I'll pass on your good wishes. I told her I could bring her stuff, but I'd just drop it at her front door and run.

    Kate - Awww, that's sweet! I would totally take advantage of your generosity and foist the kid on you at every possible moment. And you'd have to invite me to the wedding.

  4. I know, I know, I know and it sucks. We don't have family nearby to help and what we pay for child care, for just one child, is a mortgage for some people. Private nanny, yikes! It should be easier for parents to work, after all don't we want people gainfully employed? But I don't have an answer on how to acomplish both.

  5. And this is why I thank god that my husband is a freelancer and works at home. Because...ouch.

    My boss would be cool with it (she's got kids, she's cool, and she's always got my back.) But my company? Nah, not so cool w/it. Because family friendly isn't good for business apparently.

    This is one of the things I hate most about being a working parent in the US.

  6. Yeah, seriously. The whole working mother/child care/health benefits arrangement is absurd in this country.

    I know of a lot of mothers who work just because they need the health benefits and barely have any take home pay after child care costs.

    I can see why someone would choose to work if they love their job or had a family member to watch the kid, but I don't think any mother should HAVE to work, especially just because there is no other option for affordable health care.

    Sorry for my tangent on the health care thing, I'm in the middle of trying to choose benefits for next year, figure out what we'll do if I can't keep this job, figure out delivery costs, and plan for flex account contributions if we do need daycare, which I haven't even thought about yet!!


  7. In the quest for a more meaningful job, I thought about being a Nanny. I like kids and don't have any, but I did worry about buggers. I'm no longer worrying about salary as a Nanny. So glad your boss is flexible, sorry about the sticker shock.

    Get well soon Betty!

  8. OK, not to throw our insanely good benefits around, but is your employer open to hearing a pitch about the cost effectiveness of subsidizing emergency backup care? We end up paying about $20 total for a day, the employer pays the rest, but gets way more in labor for the day if we come in. Everybody wins.

  9. That is fucking insane. When I was a nanny (which, okay, was 6 years ago but still) I made 520pounds a MONTH. A MONTH. FOR THREE EVIL CHILDREN. Clearly I was undercharging.

  10. the costs of child care are ABSURD!
    i remember fettng paid $4 an hour to babysit... if you can find someone who will watch your kid for $4 an hour now you're not a good mom if you'd leave your babe with such a sketchball/crackwhore.
    so not looking forward to that part

  11. Holy crap! If I were you'd I'd browse CL for childcare. Here in Portland there is a HUGE range (stay-at-home moms wanting a little more income, college kids, professional nannies, etc). Meet with a few of them, let them know you're just looking for an occasional person as a date night babysitter or sick day, and keep a list for when such needs arise. I can't believe what the nanny service charges!

  12. I think it's one of the reasons nowadays we see more and more the trend reversing -- I know a lot of people who decide to stay home after they have their first kid, when 15 years ago, no one did that.

    At my job, the subsidized daycare still costs you $1,800/month. You need to be making quite a bit to make that worth it. Going to work is not cheap -- there's commuting costs, lunch, taxes, etc. Then you add day care on top of it? OUCH.

    So sometimes it's just cheaper to be your own baby sitter... Unless, you know, you make boatloads of cash (and if you do, chances are you're not spending that much time at home to begin with!).

  13. Ouchies, thank the earth that that 'teenager who lives in my house' is 17 and when he gets sick now I tuck him up in bed with some munchies and something moderately healthy to drink and the phone so I can call and check on him from work. Of which he hates because I always seem to call when he is sleeping and get grumpyarse responses from half asleep unwell teenager who lives in my house. I was a single Mum from when Ben was 4 yrs old and it was bloody hard trying to juggle when they were sick. No family but thankfully some wonderful older friends who were retired and were immensly helpful.

  14. This is the reason why, we opted that I stay home with our baby for the first couple of years. The cost was just extravagant! Just to think about spending upwards of $1500 a month on Daycare just gave us the uber-shocker of our adult lives. Imagine what that means in a year? It's $18k! I could buy a new car, maybe two new cars for that!

    They tell us it's because LBM (Le Bebe Munch) is in diapers and that when he's potty trained the cost goes down to $1100 a month. Wow, a whole extra four hundred a month back to me, just because he can pee? Wow, still not so worth it.

    And it sucks that Betty is sick. Hope she feels better soon! : )

  15. I hope Betty is feeling better. That juggling diminishes some as the kids get older, but not entirely. Sophie was home sick on Monday. Thankfully, we didn't have to scramble like we used to.

  16. Angel JAM - Yah, it's astounding, it really is. And the waiting lists for daycare in downtown DC are insane. If I'd wanted J in daycare when I went back to work, I'd have had to have gotten on a list at least a year prior.

    Ginger - No, family friendly isn't good for business...because of course we can all separate the personal and professional every time we need to. Yes, lucky your husband is home.

    frugalveganmom - I know people like that as well. For parents of two kids in this area, daycare is most of one person's salary in a lot of cases. It's very hard to figure out what to do. And health care is so expensive - it can be enough of a reason to keep a job.

    HKW - I have no idea what full time nanny salaries are - here or elsewhere, but I think unless you worked for an amazing family, it would be hard to make it worth it. I don't feel like child care providers get enough respect in general. But if you were an emergency one and could charge like crazy - for me that would be so much more worth it. People would have to be grateful for a couple days - and then you'd never have to see them again if they were jerks.

    Brunch Bird - That is an AMAZING benefit. I will ask our HR about it. I have no idea if my organization would ever be up for something like that or not, but certainly a lot of us have kids.

    Hillary - Ugh. That sounds terrible. Three evil children no matter what you were making. They should've paid you soooo much more.

    jen - I know - times have really changed. My understanding is that hourly babysitting varies from $10-15/hr - but that's random babysitting, not a nanny.

    Tia - That's actually a really good idea. It would take some work and time to compile and to check people out, but it would be worth it in an emergency.

    Carla - It's true, it really is. When you look at all the costs and benefits, I think for a lot of people it just makes more sense to stay home. This is an expensive area to have kids in. Personally, what I'd like is to have boatloads of cash and a nanny and be able to stay home and write and do art projects. Sigh sigh.

    Go-Betty - I have so much respect for single moms. I can't even begin to imagine being able to do it without having a complete breakdown every other day. It's extraordinary. You should be so proud at what an amazing job you did with your great kid!

    melkuroda - I understand that for sure. I thought the cost went down when they were two because they could have more toddlers in a room than infants, because infants are so much more high maintenance? I had no idea diapers figured into any of it.

    Lisa - She sounds a little better this evening, thanks. I'm sure it's complicated until they're able to stay home alone, which is a looooong time.

  17. You have to be kidding! What an eye opener. Glad you can work from home-I've always been made to feel like a deserter in this situation. Poor Betty..I hope she feels better pronto. :)
    Cutie Patootie in the dirty laundry made my day!

  18. aaaaaand this is what drives me crazy about our country claiming to have "family values." If we did, it wouldn't be so bloody expensive to get some help with taking care of children. Because one person *can't* do it alone, as we know... We are messed up.

    I hope Betty recovers well, and I hope your couple of days with the boy are good ones, and I hope you manage to get enough of your work done not to feel guilty about taking that time.

    (And another thing: wouldn't it be amazing if stay-at-home moms got even a fraction of that kind of money? or maybe the retirement benefits for the equivalent? Wow...)

  19. make friends with waiters-- we work well under pressure, deal with children all the time, are used to being very active for hours on end, have random weekdays off, and (most importantly) could be seduced into sitting for a day or two for an amount comparable to what we'd make on a regular shift (which for a day shift would most likely be less than half the amount you quoted)

  20. I feel your pain, seriously. I had a c-section a few weeks ago and needed a few weeks help with my toddler son after our daughter was born. As we were planning the help, I called a nanny service and heard the same spiel you did. And even though it's a necessary service, I don't think we could stomach paying it, even if we were cajillionaires. It just seems wrong to pay the same fee over and over, for what they called screening services. Truthfully I could probably stomach it (sort of) if they just said, "hey you, that's what it costs. So there."

    (Also, I am in the kind of family that it's just more cost effective for me to stay home for a few years rather than put the two little people in some sort of daycare...and it's great lots of the time and I'm starting not to miss the IQ points...I kid I kid, but still, it would be nice to be able to have some sort of balance between being able to work and also being able to be with the mini-peoples in the house.)


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