How much help would you offer?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
How much help would you offer?
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 11:58pm
I've posted some of this story previously, but will review it again for those who missed it.

My sister married a man, knowing he was an alcoholic and wouldn't work. They have a 4 YO girl together. Since this man has refused to change, she has decided to divorce him.

My sister makes $2000.00 a year too much for help with day care, per the government. She works 6 days a week, 60+ hours, all weekends and holidays, some overnights. On her day off, she occasionally has mandatory meetings she has to attend. She could demote herself, but she would lose all of her benefits and make significantly less than the $2000.00 it would take for her to qualify for day care help, thus, not making it cost effective.

Anyway, here is where I enter the picture. She has asked me if I can babysit for free as I am self-employed, make my own hours, and work approximately 25-30 a week. Most of the family lives out of town, except for a grandmother who is still working full-time, so there would be no help that way.

My typical babysitting schedule would look like this:

Mondays - Noon to 11 p.m.

Tuesdays - off (except when she has meetings)

Wednesday through Sunday - 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All holidays - 8 to 10 hours

One overnight a month

I ask - WHEN am I supposed to work myself when I am babysitting all the time, these hours? Not to mention, I have two children of my own ages 12 and 8 who need my time and attention also. Plus, I am not used to having to watch children "like a hawk" all the time because my kids are older now, but you have to with a 4 YO.

My sister's only alternative is to sell her house and move in with our mom (the one who works full-time) so she can afford day care.

So let me ask all of you this - how much help would you offer if you were in this situation?

Avatar for sara24
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 06-18-2003 - 12:36am
That's a lot of hours to be providing free care, especially when you have your own stuff that has to be done too. How about a reduced rate or a barter system? For the reduced rate, look at what she can afford and what feels fair to you. For the barter system how about on her Tuesdays off and Wed/Fri evenings she takes all 3 kids to give you a break/work time OR on those nights instead of just grabbing the kids and going, she cooks dinner for the whole group and you all eat together? I'm just throwing out ideas that have worked for us or friends.

Another option would be to tell her that you will do free sitting for a specific length of time after which you will start charging $X/week or she has to find someone else.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Wed, 06-18-2003 - 12:41am
I would NOT do that babysitting schedule. That sounds like a wreck waiting to happen when there would be any type of problem you would be in the middle, and that is WAY WAY WAY too much responsibility to take on for free, especially when you have your own family and life to take care of. I would tell her sorry, no way Jose! If I were you I'd consider "giving" your sister one day a week that you would babysit her kid. A day that she could take care of business, work or fun, whatever. That to me is more than generous enough even for a sis. It is not your fault her life is not what she would like for it to be and you didn't make her choices. Also I don't think it's your place to have to babysit her kid especially not for FREE! I can't believe she even asked!!! Good luck! Rhiannon
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-14-2002
Wed, 06-18-2003 - 8:45am
It's too bad your sister is in this fiancial situation, but she put herself there. She's in a position to make a choice - her child or her job - and she doesn't want to choose, so she's grasping at straws - You. What she should be doing is looking for a different job.

If I were in your situation, I would split the babysitting - offer to babysit during the hours when regular day care is NOT available. You would babysit three days (Sat, Sun, and after 4:30 on Mondays), Tuesday meetings when they come up, one overnight once a month, and the occasional holiday when you do not have other plans. She would have to find day care for Mon afternoons and Wed, Thur, Fri. Maybe Mondays would be negotiable, since the extra half day might make her day care bill the same as a full week.

In addition, isn't this child ready for Head-Start in the fall?

You said her only other alternative is to sell the house and move in with Mom. Well, that sounds drastic, but as I see it: she currently puts more importance on her mortgage payments than the welfare of her daughter. Doesn't seem like there's any question at all. SELL the house and/or find a different job with better hours, NOT find a free babysitter so she can have both.

The question here is not whether you should offer free babysitting - it is whether you should enable her to keep her mortgage and her ungodly work hours at the expense of her daughter's care, or stand up for your niece and make your sister face her choices and priorities in life.

Best of luck to you!



iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2003
Wed, 06-18-2003 - 10:02am
I just wanted to add a quick note about Head Start, and I'm not sure if it's this way in all areas but here, not all kids can get into Head Start. First they look at the income, and low income gets preference, and even with the low income in some places (like where I live) I know there's a waiting list a mile long of parents who want to send their kids mostly because they look at it as free daycare. I only know this because my aunt used to teach at Head Start. Also I know they only went from 8-4 so that could be an issue too, (here anyway).