Negotiating money with neighbors...
November 30, 2015 11:33 PM   Subscribe

I recently transitioned from classroom teaching to working at home - I miss kiddo time. I offered to babysit the neighbor's kids and now I'm running into a small issue.

We moved into a new neighborhood recently and quickly became friendly with Neighbors A, who have two adorable kids. After getting to know them over the course of a few months, I offered to babysit if the parents needed a hand or wanted to get out of the house. I offered because I enjoy spending time with the little ones, and I also don't mind helping out their parents, who might appreciate being able to go on date nights, spend time with friends, etc.

At first, Neighbors A offered to pay for my time, but I refused; we are friendly, I enjoy the time spent with their kids, and if I'm unable or unwilling to babysit, I feel comfortable saying no. Also, I work full-time and don't necessarily need any extra income. For these reasons, I didn't feel comfortable accepting payment from them. Since then, I've watched their kids a few times - they've always been super grateful and their kids are awesome and fun.

However, Neighbors A spread the word that I was available for babysitting around the neighborhood. As a result Neighbor B approached me to ask if I could watch their kids on a couple of occasions. I had never met Neighbor B before, but agreed, and all went well.

Neighbor B paid me for my time and I felt comfortable accepting payment given that I did not know Neighbor B or her kids beforehand. Neighbor B has since asked me to babysit a couple more times, all paid.

Question: Is it fair to maintain this structure? Would you be upset if you were Neighbor B? Neighbors A?

If it makes a difference, I have no kids of my own. We bought the house in this neighborhood and don't intend to move anytime soon - any solution would be long-standing.
Thanks for your thoughts!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (7 answers total)
That seems totally fair to me and I would not be upset if I were either of your neighbours.
posted by daisyk at 12:12 AM on December 1, 2015 [10 favorites]

Mates' rates are totally a thing. Working gratis for your friends but charging other people is perfectly normal. You're fine.
posted by flabdablet at 12:53 AM on December 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Totally fair. I babysit for my best friend for free. When she recommended me to someone in her mothers group all three of us totally expected me to be paid (and I was). My person B was thrilled to get someone through a personal recommendation; unless someone is in terrible financial straits, paying for babysitting is much less stressful than finding someone suitable to pay.
posted by kitten magic at 1:51 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

To add, if neighbour C dropped by your house in a terrible state because she had to race to the hospital for a family emergency and needed you to watch the little c's, I'm sure you would care for them with no pay expected as you were being neighbourly (even if you never met them previously). But if in the future when all was fine and she was going on date night and asked you to babysit, I would expect them to pay for babysitting then.
posted by kitten magic at 1:55 AM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Totally fair. A good babysitter is worth paying for and I'd be very happy to do so. I'd be more uncomfortable not paying, to be honest.
posted by Cuke at 5:47 AM on December 1, 2015

Totally fair, but I add that if it becomes a regular gig for neighbor A, then they should re-offer to pay and you might decide to accept.
posted by AugustWest at 7:47 AM on December 1, 2015

Totally fair, as someone said "Mates Rates" is a perfectly normal thing, Person B is probably just thrilled to have a handy reliable babysitter. If taking it worries you, maybe use it to buy a few toys/items for the kids to use while you are babysitting. I had a regular babysitterthat taught me crafts when she'd come to visit & used to give me tapestry kits etc we'd do together when she came she gave me a lifetimes love of crafting.
posted by wwax at 10:27 AM on December 1, 2015

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