There is a mythical time in life known as The Time Before Kids. My recollection of such a time is cloudy, no doubt a result of the chaos that comes with a houseful of children.
In my vague recollections of such a time, I recall sleeping the whole night through. I picked clothing for fashion rather than function. I baked batches of cookies that lasted for days rather than minutes. Such a time is so far away from my consciousness that I can no longer say with any certainty that this time existed.
With just the two of us, Brian and I could pack up in moments. A quick fill of the tank on the way out of town and our adventure began. Once we had kids, we had two choices. We could plan far in advance, stuff the car full of baby gear and leave the house 90 minutes behind schedule, or we could hire a baby sitter and go on a date.
A good baby sitter is a gift, a secret we don’t always want to give away. For some, the list of good baby sitters is a closely guarded treasure.
In our house, the list of teenage baby sitters was short. It said “Meagan.” It wasn’t that we didn’t like other baby sitters, it was just that after we had Meagan to baby-sit, we never asked anyone else to come out. If she wasn’t available, well, I guess we weren’t going anywhere.
She came out the first time toting a bag of goodies. By the time she started unpacking, I was wishing I could stay home and play, too. Meagan usually brought books and games we didn’t have here. In the summer, there was a blow-up pool and Otter Pops. Year ’round, there were stories and games and nonstop fun.
My kids always made sure to have their school work done before Meagan arrived. Nobody wanted to miss out on the fun.
Then she got older, went away to college, graduated and got married. We mourned our loss even as we celebrated her happiness. Now I realize it may be just as well that she is gone. You see, our Legislature is trying to make it so that we would never be able to afford to hire her now that she is an adult. I could not bear to try and explain that to the kids.
After spending a small fortune on worker’s compensation insurance, we’d need to keep a personnel file, provide highly detailed pay stubs and maintain copies of that paperwork for three years. We would also be required to ensure that our baby sitter had duty-free breaks every couple of hours. And in the very rare event that we hired an adult to stay with the kids for a 24-hour period, we would also have to guarantee that baby sitter eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. I don’t even know what that much sleep feels like.
If this bill is intended to protect workers, perhaps the Legislature should consider that it may be putting many adults’ jobs at risk. Passage of A.B. 889 would result in many parents using only minors when they need a baby sitter just to avoid confusing and onerous regulations.
It just won’t be cost effective for most parents to hire an adult to watch their children if they have a pile of paperwork accompanied by the threat of hefty fines for any error. If the Legislature makes finding quality child care difficult for parents, it may just leave a lot of child care workers out of a job.