It’s kind of a big deal when you’re married. And then you throw one or two or six kids into the mix and it’s desperately needed and practically impossible to actually make it happen. You have to plan what you’re going to do, and how much it costs, and how long you’ll be gone, and what night you’re heading out, and figure out what to feed the kids, and make seven different phone calls trying to find a babysitter.
And at the end of the night after you spent your life savings at the movie theater and on dinner, your babysitter does something crazy. In exchange for her time and for keeping your kids out of the emergency room and wrestling them into bed, she asks for some money. I know, these teenagers and their capitalist ideas today.
So you do some quick math in your head to calculate out that you were gone for 4 hours, even though you told the babysitter it’d just be 3 hours. You figure a teenager probably would make about minimum wage or slightly more if they were working somewhere else and because you don’t want to be “stingy” so you pull $30 out of your wallet and thank them profusely for giving you a few hours of freedom.
Then, 6 weeks later when you’re finally up to the task of planning date night again, you wonder why it’s difficult to find a babysitter.
Maybe it’s not those flaky teenagers. Maybe it’s not that your kids are crazy. Maybe it’s not that there’s something better going on this weekend. Maybe your struggle in attracting and keeping a great babysitter is the fact that you’re a pretty cheap client.
Here’s the thing. You can’t expect a 15 year old to accurately price their services. When you call and ask if they can babysit this weekend, they aren’t going to give a full presentation on the types of activities they will do with your children. They aren’t going to explain how they will spend the evening managing the chaos that comes with watching children that don’t belong to you. They won’t mention a price. They have a weird expectation that you are an adult and that you will pay them fairly.
You trust this person enough to leave them, alone, with your children, at home, where there are sharp objects.
From a business perspective, the pennies you offer up as a client isn’t worth the investment of their time.
When a babysitter takes you on as a client, they pull themselves off the market for all other activities. That means if they have a job at the mall that does pay minimum wage, they are giving up 5 hours of work there in order to watch your ankle biters. In some cases, those minimum wage jobs require their employees to work those hours, so your babysitter chooses the entrepreneurial route and watches children to earn money instead.
When you hire them for a Friday or Saturday night, they lose the ability to book that as a social event on their own calendar. So as you want to go out on New Years Eve, or Halloween, or for Valentines Day, or for your office Christmas party, this teenager is exchanging their social life for dirty diapers and mac n cheese in hopes of earning some cash.
There are usually 4 weekends in a month. If your babysitter were able to successfully book Friday and Saturday night of every weekend in babysitting gigs, and all of her clients paid that same $30 you do for 4 hours of work, she’d only earn $240 for the month, while giving up her entire social life.
That’s terrible. As a business owner, if you worked 32 hours and your gross revenues were $240, you’d stop owning that business. Either that or find clients that pay better.
Here’s something I’ve learned about teenagers. They like to talk to each other. If you pay a 15 year old girl $60 or $80 for watching your kids for 4 hours, she will tell her friends. And her friends, who also babysit, will suddenly go out of their way to let you know how much they’d love to watch your kids for you if you ever need a date night.
You could save yourself the $30 and continue to burn through babysitters, or you could pay someone what their service is worth and have a list of babysitters that will drop their weekend plans on an hour notice to watch those precious bundles of joy and chaos.