I landed my first job out of college last September and find myself in a position that no college professor or career counselor prepared me for – babysitting my boss’ kids while he and his wife go out of town for the weekend. He already knows I’m free this weekend because he asked if I had plans and I told him no. I’m not being asked to do it for free, but I’m not sure the extra money is worth it.
-Wondering in Watsonville
Big Daddy is about to give you advice that I guarantee no college professor or career counselor would give a student because it’s entirely too practical for the theoretical worlds in which they live.
Never get too close to the principal. Your boss is not your friend. You are not an extended member of your boss’ family. Never take money from your boss that you didn’t earn during your regular eight-hour workday.
Finally, never get involved in your boss’ personal life beyond customary, polite observances such as, “Did you have a good weekend?,” “Do you like mayo on your sandwich?,” or “Your fly is down.”
Getting a trustworthy, reliable babysitter isn’t easy. Witness the increase of spying devices that parents use these days to keep an electronic eye on the person taking care of their children. Your boss obviously has a lot of confidence in you to ask you to take care of his children. Plus, he probably figures you can use a little extra spending cash since you’re being paid an entry-level salary.
At the same time, however, you would be smart to politely decline the offer.
While you’re young and just starting out, develop the habit of balancing your professional life with your private life, and always ensure that you maintain a bright red line between the two. Particularly if you work in the world of politics, it will help you maintain an all-important perspective on life. If you socialize only with your colleagues, or spend your precious weekends becoming your boss’ nanny – even if you have nothing better to do than sit around watching reruns on TV and flipping through stale copies of People magazine (and Capitol Weekly, no doubt) – you will slowly become as a person what you do for a living.
Worse yet, it could be the case that when the time comes for you to get a promotion, your boss is subconsciously worried that if you go on to bigger and better things, he loses a trusted babysitter.
Your boss doesn’t ask the men in the office to spend their weekends cleaning his gutters or changing the oil in his car. Maintain a professional relationship with your boss and be seen as an equal in the office.
Babysitting is no way to ingratiate yourself with the top brass. That’s what unpaid overtime is for.