Mom feels she is underpaying for Child's care

Received Friday, August 22, 2008. - Perspective & Opinion
Hello, I have never posted here, so I hope I'm doing this right. I would like some advice from childcare providers regarding pay. I have a very sweet lady who provides daycare out of her home, and she keeps my son for me whenever I ask. This isn't very often at all, but if I have a field trip for another one of my boys, she never turns down my request for help. My three sons love her and she is incredible with kids.

The problem is that I feel I am underpaying her. I pay her the rate she charges, but I really feel awful about it because I would happily pay her twice her going rate. In the past I have overpaid her, but then I feel bad, like maybe she thinks I'm tipping her and is feeling insulted about it. I have great admiration and respect for her, but truth be told, we're not friends. I am very shy and I don't know how to broach this subject with her. I have heard other moms say that she doesn't need the money, she just does this as something she enjoys, which is why she charges so little. But I feel terrible paying so little, especially because she always helps no matter how short the notice is (i.e. I can call her on Tuesday to see if she can keep baby on Friday).

I know this probably sounds like a dumb concern, but it stresses me out every time I go to pay her. How can I address the issue without offending her, or should I just shut up and pay what she asks, even though I don't think it's fair to her?


At Home Care giver said...

I also do childcare in my home and charge considerably under the going rate. It's not that I don't need the money, I have a certain amount I need to make and I easily make that with what I am charging and don't see the need to jack up my rates.

But, at one point, one of the people whose child I took care of took it upon themselves to pay me more. They just put the extra dollars inside my pay envelope with a lovely note saying that they so appreciated the great care i gave their child and they felt it was time for me to have a raise. I was very appreciative of it and there was no need for an awkward conversation.

Perhaps you can do this the next time you use her.

mom said...

That's a good idea that at home caregiver has!

I haven't had a nanny, but I have a trainer who wouldn't raise his rates, even after several years. I was concerned that, because he was a friend from church, he might feel awkward raising my rate. I mentioned to him periodically that most service providers take a cost of living raise at least every other year, if not annually, and urged him ot do the same. He was resistant to the idea, but eventually said that other clients had been telling him the same, and so he finally raised, but only a tiny bit.

If your friend balks at the extra money you leave her, then go back to the original rate and be sure to let her know in other ways how much you really appreciate her.

UmassSlytherin said...

I guess I'm not with the majority here. lol. It is great that you wish to give her more money, but it is her business. She can charge what she wants, and I would just accept it. Give her a nice bonus on christmas/birthdays etc, but my advice is to let well enough alone. Perhaps she wishes it to get out by word of mouth that her rates are so reasonable. But she is a business person. If she is aware that she can charge more but chooses not to, so be it. If she is so foolish that she doesn't realize she can, so be it.

Gosh but I'm mean today! :)

lovesthegirls said...

HI there generous OP! First of all, I want to thank you for posting this. It has certainly refreshed my belief in humanity! Tht being said, I like what the first poster said in regards to sticking a little extra in an envelope with a thanks! If you are shy about actula cash hy not a gift card to say Target, or a great restaurant? Or a local spa? I think you are wonderful just for thinking of her!!!! Stay generous OP!

minneapolis nanny said...

i promise you this- childcare providers are never insulted when a parent "tips". you are thankful for her love and care toward your child... tipping is just one way of showing it.

if you feel starnge about money, pick up a gift card for her. get her favorite coffee- a whole bag, with a bow. there are many ways to show your appreciation.

thank you for recognizing her work!

Kate in CO said...

PLEASE, pay her more! I am a licensed provider and I would never be offended if my clients took it upon themselves to pay me won't be insulting her, I promise! You would most likely make her YEAR! 'Sounds like you're a wonderful person to care about your provider so much. 1:48 has a GREAT idea!

UmassSlytherin said...


I do agree that OP sounds wonderful, but I think gift cards are the way to go: tax free. If you are a home childcare provider, you must claim all income. (And if you are not, you should be.) As a business person, a home childcare provider is not like a nanny: they make the rates, not the other way around.

Bonuses are fine. Gift cards, as I mentioned.

Anonymous said...
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Kate in CO said...

I would still rather have the cash.......I know what you're saying, but, I only shop a few certain places. Maybe the op's provider would prefer cards. That's a great idea, I personally wouldn't. And, yes, I claim every penny I make. As I stated, I'm licensed. 'Have been for 16+ years.

re-post from anon said...

pay what the person is worth

they will thank you

i do

2:38 PM

(This was a sweet comment left by an 'anonymous' that I wanted to re-post so everyone could see it before it got deleted)

Kathrine Gutierrez said...

You can buy Visa gift cards and use them almost anywhere that takes Visa...

nannyinmanhattan said...

Just give whatever extra increase in her pay envelope. She'll be surprised and happy.
You could say...I've decided to raise the rate so from now on I'll be paying this much.
It would avoid an uncomfortable conversation and everyone would be happy in the long run.

Jen said...


I am the one who posted this message. I want to thank you all for the responses. I love the idea of a Visa gift card!

I have been wanting to ask her to keep my baby a few hours a week on a regular basis so I can volunteer at my sons' school, but the idea of dealing with the payment issue on a weekly basis was bothering me a great deal.

Now I can just drop an envelope on a table on my way out and avoid any uncomfortable discussions. :)

Thanks again- this is a very useful site!

Marypoppin'pills said...

You are so Welcome, Jen. The posters here are really thoughtful and give the best advice.
We hope you'll stay!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why it is so hard to discuss. Ask to meet her for lunch to discuss her program.

Tell her that even though there's no amount of money to make up for the great child care she provides. That you feel she charges way under the going rate and that you would like to discuss a more appropriate rate with her. Easy as that. Say that it makes you feel as if you are taking advantage of her regardless of the fact that she may or may not need the money.

And if you really can't talk to her be generous with gift cards to her on holiday times, birthdays and mothers day. You get these bank ones to spend anywhere you like.

Good for you for being good hearted. Now if your kid flushes her blackberry- reimburse her in full.

Anonymous said...
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april said...

It isn't as complicated as some of you make it. I found a daycare for my son over a year ago. The location was good, the woman had great references and she seemed nice. As weeks went on, I realized that the woman was phenomenal and was doing wonderful things with my son. I wasn't sure about daycare to start so I was shocked that the daycare I chose, whichwas actually one of the least expensive daycares I looked at- turned out to be so wonderful. It was a perfect arrangement, but I realized that getting the care my son was getting in such a proximal location by such a professional- well it was less like a deal and more like a steal. After three months, I just told her how happy I was with everything she was doing and that leaving my son with her gave me such piece of mind that I wanted to increase the pay a bit more to reflect my appreciation. I added an extra $75 to the pay every week since then. I pay now what most people pay in "good daycares", but I truly believe I have the best!

Pay her more. She will appreciate it!

tired said...

Don't stress. Just slip in some extra money. Or get an American Express card for her.

Anonymous said...

It's refreshing for someone on this site to realize they have a good provider.
My boss is always buying me little things here and there. Nice lotions/body washes, one time a coach purse, dinners, etc. You could always show your appreciation w/ a surprise gift now and then throughout the year (not just birthday and christmas). I'm sure she would appreciate it.

the fisherman's wife said...

Slip her some extra money or a gift card, by all means, but also consider something like a Starbucks card or a gift certificate to a spa or someplace that she likes to go. Also, a thoughtful card speaks volumes about how much you care about and appreciate her. Cards from the kids are great, too!

My mom did home daycare for years and she always appreciated the small gestures, an extra $20 here and there, a gift card to the coffee shop she frequented or a paid day off every now and again.

You seem like a great person OP, for even thinking about this. A lot of people wouldn't give it a second thought.

Lacy Bones said...

Also, have you thought about giving her a gift card to your local grocery store? That way you can be open about giving it to her- "I know that you provide snacks for the kids and that sometimes after a full day with them it's hard to have the energy to go grocery shopping. I thought this might be helpful." Or rephrased if "helpful" still seems condescending. The great thing about gift cards is clerks rarely put on there how much it's worth. So if you want to allow her to spend her own money on herself instead of groceries for a week or a month, it's up to you.

My brother does this for his son's preschool teacher all the time.