Child care can be extraordinarily expensive. I had a conversation recently with someone without kids, who assumed it cost a couple of hundred dollars per month for a kid to be watched. Well, his jaw dropped when I told him exactly how much it really cost for most people. He first thought I was joking, until I relayed that no, actually I’m totally serious about those figures! And besides, the kid has to be more than “watched” – he or she should be cared for and provided learning and development activities too.
This cost aspect to child care brings me to a different friend of mine, who has a family with a couple of kids. He and his wife are both busy professionals, so they have a direct need for day care. Additionally, they’re people who could realistically afford it, although my friend isn’t into throwing away their money. It’s his value of saving money and being frugal that has gotten them to become in good shape financially as it is.
As the kids both entered school age, their child care needs changed. No longer did they need them cared for all day, as they were in school.
This is where my friend’s mother in-law entered the picture. She volunteered to help pick up the kids, take them to activities, feed them a snack, etc. All for what would have been about 15 hours per week. It seemed like it was out of the goodness of a grandparent’s heart to want to help out.
Then, she sprung on them the idea that she wanted $15 per hour. Later, she asked for more hours. Then came requests (nice demands?) for a small gas allowance, and even compensation for food provided. In total, it sounded like this would be near $350 weekly. That was a few years ago, so I don’t know if she has asked for more money since then. What I do know, however, is that this arrangement has still been going on. So, the money probably isn’t any less today.
My friend has hated this for years. He would rather spend a bit more, I believe, to get different care for the kids. A big reason is that he just can’t stand the reality that his mother-in-law actually wants money to watch her grandkids, and has nickel and dimed them along the way. Plus, he thinks she isn’t very good with giving them nutritious choices (he’s a health fanatic), so the whole thing rubs him the wrong way.
His wife seems great, though in this case she defends her Mom by saying she needs the money and it’s better to have kids with a grandparent than a stranger. Clearly, she is getting her way here and not my friend.
What put him even more over the top irritated with the whole thing is that the in-laws took a trip overseas last year, which was really just a vacation. They brought back little trinkets for the kids that he thinks cost maybe $10 USD. He wonders how they could take money for watching kids, and then bring back very little.
I think the bigger thing is that they supposedly needed the money, yet took an overseas trip. In his shoes, I’d be thinking that the funds obtained from watching kids is funding travel and other goodies. But, who knows.
What do you think of all of this?
My Questions for You
What do you think about the idea of paying grandparents to watch their grandchildren?
Do you think my friend has a reason to be upset? Why or why not?