Hey Big Daddy,
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’s 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’s 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 take care of his children. Plus, he probably
figures you can use a little extra spending cash since you’re being paid an
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’s 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.