Room/Childcare Exchange

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From: Becky (1/99) Ah, one of my favorite topics! Not only have I had students living in my house and providing child care, we also advertise such positions to students in the UC Berkeley Community Living office (642-3644 and it's free to list).

The biggest issue for us is scheduling, particularly in the morning. We always need someone whose morning schedule will not conflict with my husband's and mine, since we both need to shower and so forth and be out the door early in the morning and we have only one bathroom. I have also discovered it's important to me to have my own space and private time for cooking most meals. Some of the students have loved to cook, and others not, and you can build that into the job description or not, as you prefer. You can also do the same with housekeeping and errand-running.

It's really good to have some house rules in writing if you are allowing this person to intermingle in your daily life. For example, hours during which music or TV can be played, kitchen privileges, times when showers or baths can be taken (to allow sufficient hot water for everyone else!). You may also want to outline the duties and have the person sign off on the job description.

General rules: Expect the student to perform 12 - 15 hours per week of child care for a straight room exchange, perhaps a few more hours if you are including food. Extra hours should be paid at whatever you would normally pay a baby sitter. Initially, you may want to set up the housing and the duties on a month-to-month basis until you are sure it will work out, then you could negotiate for a longer-term type lease.

In addition to all this, of course, you should ask the standard questions one should always ask of child care providers!

I wanted to share my experience with offering a TINY room in my house in exchange for childcare (10 - 15 hours/week--for me it's been after-school care for my daughter that I've needed). My family has had pretty good luck (and with our current person, FANTASTIC luck!) with offering a teeny-tiny spare room in our basically 2 bedroom, 1 bath house to a live-in person who looks after my daughter for a couple of hours each work day after she gets off the school bus. The room fits a single futon bed, build-in shelving, a desk and a chair--just barely. What I did last year was advertise this room plus board in exchange for the childcare.

We are very fortunate right now in that we have a Chinese scholar (named Xue) living with us who takes her classes up to mid-afternoon and then is home for my daughter. Best of all--she loves to cook, and we are having all sorts of wonderful Chinese food in the bargain! The thing you have to be careful about are house rules--for us it's really important that my husband and I pretty much get to monopolize the single bathroom in the early morning on weekdays so we can jet off to work on time!

I've had 3 different people this way (one had to leave after just a summer to go to Grad school, the other had a schedule the next semester that didn't work out with the duties) and they've worked out quite well. I realize this isn't for everyone, but it might be a workable solution for someone. You can advertise for a student through my office, Community Living, and tell the person taking the ad that you want to list a work exchange. Essentially 12 - 15 hours a week is expected for a straight exchange -- no rent. I throw in food, too, because the room we are offering is SO tiny and also I don't really have spare space in the kitchen for someone to carve out a niche for her own foodstuffs.

If you think you'd like to try this, call Community Living 642-3644 to list.


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Last modified July 4, 1998 '