This is The Opposite of Me.

To be clear: Danielle, Amanda and Caitlin look and act nothing like Alan in "The Hangover."

My friend Matt owns a radio production company, for which he writes a blog on good parenting practice. I knew about the company, but not the blog until just a few days ago. Then while reading through it I found this entry, in which Matt explains how he and his wife compute what they will pay their sitters.

Go ahead, click over and read it. Skim through his whole site too if you like– he’s got lots of cool stuff. I’ll wait.

Now, I have nothing but love for Matt and his wife. I knew them in college, meaning that I automatically have a soft spot for them, and in case you did not notice this while perusing his site: they have 4 children, 3 of whom are triplets. T R I P L E T S. So, really, 99% of anything they say about parenting, I will simply stipulate right now.

Except for the babysitting formula. I’m not even saying they’re wrong… I’m saying I do it very differently. My formula goes more like this: at some point while driving home, Dave or I will say, “So how much do we owe Danielle/ Amanda/ Caitlin?” Neither of us will want to work any logarithms at this point in the evening, so instead we count the cash we currently have with us. If the total seems appropriate, the sitter gets the cash. If it isn’t enough, we might stop at the ATM or we might go home and write a check. And how do we judge appropriateness, you ask? Well, we have ten years of experience, so we know the going hourly rate for sitters and all the little variances therein…. but really, I judge it the same way I judge when I’m done doing my hair, I guess: I just look at it and know

So basically, I am the dead opposite of the Matt Babysitting Formula. He uses hard math, I am much lazier tend to go with my gut. I wonder which approach is more common?


    5 comments to This is The Opposite of Me.

    • Tammy

      I only have one 8 year old, so I don’t need a formula. I normally pay around $5/hour to the neighbor girl. I add extra if she’s there during the day and has to make him something to eat. I may round down if it’s a late night thing and he’s in bed for most of the evening. I figure I should have to pay that much for her to watch tv or play Wii at my house.

      Your friend’s formula seems extremely complicated. I can’t imagine trying to figure that out on the way home from an evening out on the town.

    • Jules

      Tammy, Matt and Colleen are awesome, so I’m sure this is a great formula for them. I think I’m just not cut out for mathematical formulas… it’s nice to know others are the same way. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

    • Donna

      I’m somewhere in the middle of gut instinct and complex math equations. The hourly part I feel out, but there are factors like age and length of time to consider. I also bring in three other issues, that if bound together like a trifecta, will yield maximum pay. 1) Did I have to drive/pick up sitter from afar. That cuts into my getting ready time, so neighborhood walkers get a boost. 2) Did they make a meal for my children to eat? I’m not talking throwing snack food at them, but even mac and cheese, drinks and sauce cups can prove dicey for 14/15 year olds. 3) Did they have to put the children to bed? Sweet Baby Jesus, even I don’t like that job, and they aren’t amped to the ceiling that A NEW PERSON IS HERE!

    • Jules

      Yeah, I’m not a fan of putting them to bed either, Donna. There’s just a lot of BS surrounding bedtime, no matter what the situation.

    • Ryan

      So I randomly came across this as I was looking for an image to show my friend of what it was just like when I had to watch my sister’s 6 month old (image above is kind of close to reality). I’m 25 and don’t have any kids–far from it, I work overseas and am single. I watched her baby for an hour and she cried the whole time. The only reason i’m commenting is because Tammy, really? $5? That’s not even minimum wage. I almost just lost my mind watching a kid for an hour, and if it wasn’t my sister, I would demand $30 at least. You parents are brave, I salute you, but c’mon, shell out a little more cash to the babysitter, that is no easy task 😉

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