Will & Tracy

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Babysitting in the 21st century

All this may be cliche to those old hat experienced parental units out there, but once again this is my blog and my new adventures in mommy hood and this last week posed a new challenge for me...Finn's first non-relative/close friend babysitting experience. Finn and I both survived the experience, but I do admit he probably did better than my knotty stomach did for the 3.25 hours we were gone and gasp... 39 minutes away.

In looking back at my own personal babysitting history, I think I was 12, yes, 12 when I had my first babysitting gig. Yes, it was for a friend of my parents and I was a mere 1/4 mile from my parents home should things get a little sticky - or wet in the case of my first attempt at using cloth diapers with pins on this kid (another story). But TWELVE YEARS OLD? I don't care how responsible they think I was at the time (and I was pretty responsible) - I was TWELVE! I could barely handle leaving Finn with a 45 year old woman who had grown kids of her own, much less a 12 year old kid. My friend's daughter assured me that now a days you can take babysitting classes and become a "certified" babysitter - somewhat reassuring, but you are still leaving your child in the hands of a 12 year old.

The second observation is, well, inflation. Lets see - I was 12 years old 24 years ago and at that time I started out at $1/hr! By the time I was in high school, 5-6 years later, I had a *phat* gig at $5/hr (unheard of). My last babysitting job was while in nursing school in 2002 for a nurse friend of mine and she told me she was paying me a minimum of $7/hr and I was cheap. I felt compelled to argue, but not too much - I was a poor college student again. Upon entering parenthood I was in the land of cheap labor - China - where my ayi cost me a whopping $3.50/hr. This of course was la la land and reality came back to bite me in the ass when we landed in Japan a month ago. Like any couple that still likes each other and wanted to stay liking each other, we decided we probably needed to invest in a date night every now and then. In looking at Japanese nanny services, we found that with membership (add in $350/year), the starting rate per hour is $24! If you did not want a membership, the rate was $34/hr. At that point I was like - maybe I should start babysitting Japanese kids!

In the end we were saved by our (uh, only) friends out in Kobe - their Filipino helper needed extra work and was willing to come in to Osaka to help us out one afternoon/evening a week. At $13.50/hr, her ability to speak English and most importantly her knowing the tune "Old McDonald Had a Farm," we figure we got pretty lucky. Now Mummy just needs to chill out and enjoy dinner with Daddy. Last week we had dinner at our Japanese Grandparents home (fabby meal by the way - Kimiko is an amazing cook), so this week is definitely dinner for two ...and how appropriate it is around Valentine's Day. I'm trying not to think about the fact that it will be Friday the 13th.


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