It has come up a few times this summer that two of my 15-year-old son's good friends are working at our local sandwich shop. It's kind of funny, because they both have the same first name and they are sharing the job. Meaning, one day one works and the next day the other works, but there's always a Dave* washing dishes. I think my own son would like to get a job (and believe me, I think he definitely should get a job) but it's not always that simple. In his case, he has some summer commitments that would make a job schedule tricky.
My 17 year old daughter, however, snagged a job at a day camp in town. It only lasts two weeks, but she's in seventh heaven spending time with small toddlers for a few hours each day and getting paid to do it. I had a similar job when I was a teenager. Actually, I worked all summer at a day camp when I was 14, and was paid minimum wage. I think minimum wage was $3.18 per hour at the time, and the funding was part of the Summer Youth Employment Program. It's one of the good things infamous District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry did, it still exists and is now called the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment program. A quick set of internet searches revealed there are similar programs in several areas across the country, including New York and Newark. There's even a state program for anyone over the age of 16 who would like to work in a number of state parks for the summer. I'll keep that one in my back pocket for next year.
But this year, my older daughter and my 13-year-old twins would like to find something to do and be even happier to be paid to do it. That's where The Babysitter's Club comes in. A Madison Mom is partnering with writer Katie Zurich (she of Fishing for Fika Fame) to start a club for Babysitters and the families who need them. Judging by the amount of action any post about babysitting on the Madison Area Parents and Community Facebook page gets, people need babysitters, and moms have kids who would like the work. The Babysitter's Club intends to bring these two groups together.
I've been the mom in desperate need of a babysitter. When my twins were just starting to walk, we'd actually hire two babysitters to be sure all four of our kids were safe (which pretty much worked except the one time one of the kids face-planted into the edge of our wooden coffee table. We survived and everyone has all of their teeth, so I'll call that a draw). I had friends who could somehow find competent high school upper classmen, or those who were brave enough to leave their kids with middle schoolers. But it was hard to find someone I knew would be able to do the job.
It would have been great to have a resource like the Babysitter's Club, and know that the babysitters were trained and ready. It is also excellent to have a resource for the babysitters themselves for training as well as information about what to charge, how to manage their schedule and what exactly giving a reference means. So we're going to head to the Meet and Greet this Friday to see if we can get some summer jobs for these teens!
*The name has been changed to protect the dishwashers. Or the dish users?
Illustration by Violet Ferranti