“Katherine, you can’t do that!” said College of Communication senior Mara Berg, as 4-year-old Katherine reached a hand out toward a windowsill display of empty wine bottles. This is the struggle of a babysitter working out of her dorm room.
Across Boston University, students try to find flexible jobs that fit into their schedules, pay the bills, but do not detract from study time. It seems like a daunting task, but many students find that babysitting positions offer the perfect solution.
Berg said she babysits Katherine two days a week for a total of six hours and makes $15 an hour. She babysat in high school for a little while, but it was not the experience that drove her to the job. The combination of the financial benefits and the
Berg said she typically brings Katherine to the park or the Boston Public Library after picking her up from school, but now that it is getting colder, she frequently brings Katherine back to her dorm room in the Student Village I.
“When it was nice out in the beginning of the year, it was easy to just kill three hours at the park with her,” Berg said. “But now, it’s really cold out and I’m not going to stay out in the cold with her for three hours. It’s just easier to take her home. I can’t just wander around Boston with her.”
BU helps babysitters
The BU Student Employment Office posts more than 5,000 jobs each year and about 12 percent of those jobs are in the childcare category, said Bethany Sheldon, student job service manager.
“We receive a total of at least 30 childcare positions per month and sometimes as many as 120 childcare positions in a month,” Sheldon said. “Over the past year, 27 students reported that they were placed into Quickie Jobs in the childcare category, but multiple students may show interest in and take out a referral on the same job.”
She said that based on the number of repeat employer and new employers received each year, employers are successfully able to fill their childcare needs through BU.
“We post childcare positions for employers across the Greater Boston area,” Sheldon said. “We believe employers choose to list their childcare positions with us because we have a wide pool of candidates to choose from and the chances of them finding a student who fits their requirements are great.”
Getting past security
Berg said she had never heard of other students bringing kids to their dorms to babysit and that she did it mainly for convenience.
“It’s always funny bringing her back to StuVi though because nobody is used to seeing a little 4-year-old walking around,” Berg said. “But the security guards always smile and people always look at me in the elevator like, ‘Is this your kid? What is she doing? Does she live in StuVi?’ But, it’s funny.”
Berg said it is easy to watch Katherine in her dorm because it is close to her school and Katherine can play with her computer or watch television. Sometimes, however, it is tricky to have a 4-year-old in a 20-year-old’s world.
“My roommates love it. They think it’s so funny,” Berg said. “Well, they did love it and then she accidently peed on my couch once.”
Wellesley resident Tara Ventura, mother of Katherine, 4, and Nicholas, 6, said she first posted for a babysitter on Sittercity.com.
“I was looking for a part-time afterschool babysitter to pick up my son at school,” Ventura said. “A BU student answered the post and she ended up working for us for about a year. When she moved on to do an internship, she referred me to her fellow sorority sisters, which eventually led to Mara.”
She said her main criteria for a sitter was having someone who lived close to her children so there would never be any transportation issues picking them up. Since she only needed part-time help, it was beneficial that local Boston students are looking for part-time work.
“Katherine loves Mara,” Ventura said. “I like her energy and they have a good relationship. We will need Mara until Katherine finishes up kindergarten.”
Ventura said she does not mind Katherine spending time in Mara’s apartment as long as she does not spend too much time playing video games.
“Katherine loves Mara and asks me if we can have her over to our house to play,” Ventura said. “She always tells me what they do together during their time. She really does like spending time with Mara.”
Another student view
Coleen McCarthy, a Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences junior, also works as a babysitter. She currently works with two families. One makes appointments when they need a sitter and the other is a regular once-a-week job, she said.
McCarthy said she found both jobs through friends who could no longer work for the families and referred her to them. She said she is looking to work with children in future as a part of her career field, so the job was a perfect match.
“I really love working with kids and I’m also studying occupational therapy,” McCarthy said. “It’s a good job to have because it’s not very demanding. I only have to work a couple of hours and still make a good amount of money. It’s kind of nice to have a job that is very flexible and it’s pretty easy for me.”
McCarthy said she does not want to work a lot of hours because she has a demanding class schedule and would not have time to work a lot. She said it is convenient that her weekly babysitting job is located close to campus so that she can go straight from class to the family’s apartment.
Playtime with kids
Berg said before she took this babysitting job, she mainly babysat middle school kids and never spent much time with young children. She took the job primarily because it was a good way to make money while still in school. However, she has found it is enjoyable as well.
“It actually serves as a really nice break from my week,” Berg said. ”I always have a trillion projects that I’m working on and things to do, but when I’m with her, I’m just with her. All she wants to do is ‘play!’ and ‘pet dogs!’ Literally, it can take me up to 30 minutes to walk one block with her because she wants to pet every single dog she sees. Walking to the park, she literally stops and needs to pet every single one and I’m totally chill with just spending an hour petting dogs.”
Berg said Katherine is creative and imaginative. She said Katherine often makes games up to play and entertains herself.
“Yesterday she was eating Goldfish and was playing with them, giving them all names and making them swim,” Berg said. “It’s a whole different world, because for me, I think of Boston as my college town and only surround myself with people my age, but there’s just this whole other world and community with her.”
McCarthy said she tries to have lots of activities to keep the children entertained while their mother is at work. She said she loves playing with the children and especially painting their nails.
“I guess just hanging out with a 3-year-old kid is funny because they say funny things,” McCarthy said. “They’re just so hyper and excited. It’s kind of refreshing to just hang out with a 3-year-old because I’m around 20-year-olds all the time and all their drama and stuff, so it’s kind of nice for things to be simple.”