Thursday, July 13, 2006

My (Pay)Cheque, Please

Caregivers are loving, caring people. We are kind and nurturing. We adore our wee charges. All parents out there smile and sigh in relief. "My baby is safe." Good to know! We caregivers are professionals doing a job. We are self-employed businesswomen with brains as well as hearts. Have I shocked you yet? Are you recoiling at the callousness? Some people do. Witness the following real exchange: A woman I met in my optometrist's waiting room, upon finding out what I do for a living, and being interested in doing the same, started asking me questions. Among other topics, the subject of money came up, and I gave her my input: that what you can charge varies depending on which area of the city you live in, and, given where she lives, she could charge a decent rate. She shied away from that like she'd stepped in something rotting. "Oh, I'm wouldn't be in it for the money!!" she gasped. The optometrist, who'd happened along about then, agreed. Oh, no, caregivers don't do it for the money!!! Well, no we don't. Not exactly. But would you, Ms.$100,000+/year Optometrist, enjoy your job quite so much if it only paid $20,000? Surely a professional can expect to be paid a wage appropriate to her work? I love the children, and I do my job well, but I am not some kind of saint with a calling, an other-wordly paragon who only soils herself with money because she has bills to pay. I'm a trained teacher, I've worked in daycare centers, I've taught parenting classes. I am a professional. I value my work, therefore I think it's worth what I charge, and I charge near the top of the scale for my chosen career in this city. Does that make me mercenary? Are these poor children suffering under the care of a crass woman who is only in it "for the money"? Pah! I like getting paid well for my work - who doesn't?

~~~~~~~~~~~~ © 2006, Mary P


Blogger Bill said...

I have heard this said before especially about Doctors or even the epidemiology types I work with. "Why should a DR get paid that much to help people should not the enumeration he gets from doing good have value to him?"

Here is my take on it.

I want a care giver that strives to do his or her best, one that reads thinks and provides the best service. The type that buys books on the topic that writes on the topic and loves the work. That has invested his or her life money and time in it.

So who do I choose? I choose the person that costs the most that I can afford. who has the longest string of ECE's BEd's and other ABCDE's etc'' beyond their name.


Because I want a caregiver that is committed to the profession and isn't doing it out of the goodness of his her heart. It should not be a profession of amateurs our children deserve better and professionals like it or not GET PAID. It costs to learn both in money and in time (aside from being with the children)

The problem with your optometrist was she just undervalued your profession. What an insult! Especially coming from some one that is of a profession that has fought to keep large parts of their profession out of the public system of health care.

This is a lesson I learned from my sister some time ago - Never undervalue the thing people love either by words or buy paycheck, it is not fair.

Sure I want my caregiver to love his/her work and do it for that reason but I expect to pay for the effort he/she has put in to be the best they can be. Gee I sound like and add for the marines. (-: But I won't groan when I have to pull out my wallet and give her back the value she has put into it. Simple economics tells us it isn't all about money it is about value, but value can have a dollar amount. If we want value we have to pay for it in kind.

SO pay up or get the inexperienced twelve year old down the street to watch your child, But don't whine when your child comes home and talks about American idol hopefuls and wants Britney Spears albums for Christmas.

7/13/2006 11:56:00 a.m.  
Blogger Susan said...

Bill has an excellent point: paying childcare professionals poorly devalues the incredibly important and difficult work they do. The same goes for teachers, particularly those in early education.

Sasdly, we are a culture that values the ability to hit a home run or sing a pop song more than the ability to teach a child to read or to share or to think about the feelings of others. And then we wonder why our children are failing in school and why our political leaders continue to make decisions that risk the lives and livelihoods of their constituents.

I suspect that if the woman you were visiting with ACTUALLY got into the childcare business she would quickly realize that she deserves to be compensated--and well--for her work. Because it IS work.

That is all.

7/13/2006 12:48:00 p.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

Of course you didn't go into it for the money - it's hardly the most well paid profession in the world, even at the top end of the scale;-)

But nor would you do it without the money - that would just be plain weird - I don't want a caregiver who does it because they "lurve children" - they either have no idea what they're taking about or have dodgy ulterior motives* that I don't want my kids exposed to!

I want a caregiver who thinks and behaves professionally - it's so much better for everyone involved.

*not necessarily THAT! but my sisters first childminder insisted the kids called her mummy and their parents by their given names - what was that all about?

7/13/2006 12:59:00 p.m.  
Blogger Sassy Student said...

That goes back to one of the kids I nanny for disliking me because his mother's taught him that people who do things for the money don't have the right motivation.

I love kids, but seriously? Tution at a private, all-women's college ain't cheap. For love AND money.

7/13/2006 02:27:00 p.m.  
Blogger Dani said...

Sassy is right; you need love AND money for job satisfaction. A few years' ago I took a job in a call center. The pay was more than I had ever earned in my life, but I hated the job. I stuck it out as long as I could but the money couldn't make up for all the stress.

People who do creative things run into this love-or-money argument, also. So many knitters get requests from non-knitters to make them things without taking into account how much the materials cost, never mind the time. Just because we like to knit doesn't mean that we want to churn out items for relative strangers for almost no money.

7/13/2006 07:08:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Joel S said...

Ya know, I currently work in childcare. But I'm not making a career out of it because it does not pay well enough for me to accomplish my life goals.

Although, I must say, some people in the biz are astoundingly lazy. One woman I work with spends the whole day sitting in one spot yelling at the kids to do what she wants.

As opposed to say... actually playing with them. Or teaching them to make cookies from scratch. Or how to make bracelets (good fine motor control practice).

She, is overpaid.

7/13/2006 08:29:00 p.m.  
Blogger bubandpie said...

This issue comes up for teachers as well, whenever a strike is in the offing. It becomes an issue of who cares most about the children, the board or the teachers. Of course teachers care about the children they teach, but that has nothing to do with fair pay and appropriate working conditions, and I don't think they should have to dress up their perfectly reasonable goals as some form of altruism.

7/13/2006 10:08:00 p.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

My argument about New York's poor salaries for librarians was this: People are willing to pay for what they value. To be stingy about your caregiver suggests you don't value her much. The fact that you value your work and expect others to value it too does not make you greedy, it makes you professional, and that in itself should be of value to your clientele.

7/13/2006 10:41:00 p.m.  
Blogger Mommy the Maid said...

This woman sounds a little clueless to me. I pay good money to know that my child is capable, safe hands and will have a devolpmentally good time everyda.y.

7/13/2006 11:15:00 p.m.  
Anonymous MIM said...

Why is that when you're in a helping profession of some sort, people assume you don't need/want to get paid?

Mary, I get the same attitude when it in my profession and, like you, I like getting paid well for my work.

7/14/2006 12:01:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Hey! Where did my response comments go?

I had responded to everyone down to Joel last night, and was going to finish up the rest this morning - and my comment is GONE! Well, nuts.

I am not doing all that over again. Thank you, everyone, for your comments.


7/14/2006 08:07:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

p.s. to Mommy the Maid: I tried to visit your blog, but all that shows is the header, the background, and the sidebar! Since you don't have an email on your profile, I'm hoping you come back and see this comment, though I'm sure you have friends who are telling you already.

7/14/2006 08:10:00 a.m.  
Blogger Kristen said...

The education, focus, and consistency that you bring to your work (work which is demanding, harrowing, seemingly never-ending) SHOULD be well compensated, just like any other field would be.

7/14/2006 10:27:00 a.m.  
Blogger Angela said...

Hey Mary? On Mommy the Maid's blog if you keep scrolling down there are entries. I ran into that last night too!

And I with Sassy Student - love AND money. To be compensated for your efforts is important, especially when you know a family truly appreciates everything you do.

7/14/2006 12:44:00 p.m.  
Blogger Angela said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7/14/2006 12:44:00 p.m.  
Blogger mo-wo said...

You know I worried this post was about me from the title. I have a horribly bad habit of missing cheques for my daycare providers. I did the same thing with strata fees in a previous life so I don't think it is anything other than organizational.. but I'm curious...

In additions to silly banter like you outline in this post do you have times when the cheque doesn't show up?

ps.. I have a pet peeve about childcare provision.. It is when I know someone has a childcare provider that is underpaid; often an immigration situation. The stock comment her is 'they are just so loving'. This makes me whacko, tho' I am still without a clear response to the "I don't have to pay properly since my childcare provider is bred to love this work" philosophy. Man, like love comes for FREE people? Jerks

7/15/2006 11:40:00 p.m.  
Blogger stefanierj said...

Everyone's already said what I wanted to say. Except, possibly, that I wonder why "love of the sport" isn't enough for an argument as to why professional athletes should be paid, say, what teachers or daycare providers make???

7/17/2006 11:02:00 p.m.  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

It's a catch 22. The people who expect someone should do a job from altruistic motives, are also the same people who don't take the vendor who charges less as seriously as their higher-paid counterparts. From a business point of view, more pay not only means a higher level of professionalism/experience, it can also mean less hassles FROM THE CLIENTS! (I.e. the client who bitches about every check usually will walk away when faced with higher fees, and good riddance since they don't value the service in the first place.) This woman who spoke to you is simply naive and, frankly, won't learn the hard lessons until she starts a business of her own.

7/19/2006 04:53:00 p.m.  

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