The Value of Time: A Software Engineer’s Dilemma on Babysitting Rates

A man with a young child looking into the camera and smiling. Family. Father, daughter. Kid / child.

As the world continues to shift towards the gig economy, more and more people are taking on side hustles to supplement their income. For some, it’s a necessity to make ends meet. For others, it’s a way to pursue their passions and hobbies outside their 9-5 job.

A social media user recently shared a story looking for guidance from strangers.

The original poster (OP) faced a dilemma when she was asked to babysit her cousin’s three young children for three full days. The cousin offered to pay her for the job, but when asked for a rate, OP felt caught between what she knew her time was worth and the reality of the situation.

As a software engineer, OP’s freelance hourly rates were $60 an hour, and her hourly pay at her full-time job was about $40 an hour.

So, she valued her time accordingly at $35 per hour for the babysitting job.

The software engineer didn’t want to quote a rate too low, knowing that babysitting three kids would be more challenging for her than the routine coding work she had for her freelance project.

Her quoted rates did not sit well with the cousin, though. She criticized OP for charging an unreasonable rate for babysitting and accused her of taking advantage of the situation.

The cousin’s husband also expressed anger, stating that he believed OP’s time was not worth the amount she was asking for because she was young. OP described the husband’s reaction in her post,

“Her husband then got mad at me saying that I was a 24 year old girl, that I’m damn near a child myself, that my time is not worth that much and it’s childish to say that it was. And that I was a stupid girl for not knowing that babysitting costs like $15 an hour.”

The OP felt insulted, and it caused a family rift. The cousin and her husband felt offended, while the software engineer felt undervalued.

Were the Babysitting Rates Justified?

The post sparked a debate on the value of time, family dynamics, and what constitutes fair compensation.

Phy44, one of the commenters, took OP’s side and stated that babysitting three kids for three straight days is a job that should be compensated fairly.

“3 kids all day, for 3 straight days? Even real babysitters would charge more than 15 for 3 kids. Obviously, they wanted you to do it as a favor and got upset that you treated it as an actual job.”

DrFolAmour007 agreed with OP too, saying that three days of full-time babysitting can be seen as blocking someone’s holiday, which should be for relaxation.

“Yeah, at the beginning of reading the post, I thought that OP was going to make her family pay for her to babysit her cousin for like a couple hours max… but three days, full time, for three kids??? That’s really not ok to ask someone from your family to do it. Even if you pay them, you basically blocking three days of holiday, who should be to relax of one of your family members so that you can go have fun! My sister is asking that often to my mom, but it’s more like leaving the kids with their grandparents for a few days vacation; my mom enjoy a lot to spend time with her grandkids, so that’s really not a problem. But here, asking a 24 yo to babysit three kids for three days straight is another story! If I was OP, I’d have refused whatever money they were offering. It’s her holiday too, and she should enjoy her time!”

Izzgo, another commenter, pointed out that the cousin should have hired a professional babysitter instead.

“If they want to pay babysitter prices, they should hire a babysitter, not a software engineer. Sheesh.”

Another commenter, Yuccasinbloom, who happened to be a nanny, commented:

“Yea, I’m a nanny. My rates start at $17 and top out at $27 for three kids. I won’t watch more than three at a time, tbh. $15 an hour for three children is a joke.”

One commenter, livevil999, even went so far as to suggest that the cousin and her husband are ‘bad parents.’

“Babysitting for 3 days?! As a parent, I can say that’s not babysitting; that’s a vacation!!! That’s an absurd amount of time to take off for without trying to get that worked out way in advance. What a couple of entitled bad parents.”

The Verdict

In light of these comments, it seems clear that OP, a software engineer, was well within her rights to decline her cousin’s request.

The rate offered by her cousin was far below what many professionals would charge for the same service, and taking care of three young children for an extended period of time is a significant amount of work and responsibility.

Furthermore, it is unreasonable to expect someone with a specialized skill set, such as a software engineer, to work for such a low wage simply because they are family.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments. Do you think the OP from this social media post was wrong?

Featured Image Credit: IgorVetushko /

This article originally appeared on Ash & Pri.

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Pri Kingston

Ash & Pri are the Founders of and have spent the last decade building their way towards financial freedom and a lifetime of memories. Having successfully achieved their early retirement goal in under 10 years, they look forward to sharing their financial sense with like-minded people. Read more about Ash & Pri in the 'About Us' section.