You Are the Advice Columnist: Are My Neighbors Taking Advantage of Me?

I have promised to take care of three kids for 10 weeks, and I am barely getting paid.

Ugh. Where do I begin? I babysit a friend's kids once a week. They are 3 1/2, 2 1/2, and 9 months old, with the youngest two having developmental delays. I arrive at 6:30 a.m., and dad gets home around 4 p.m. I am paid $100 for the time I am there.

I am not sure what childcare workers/babysitters/daycare centers would make watching all three kids, and I certainly do not expect that much -- I genuinely enjoy spending time with them, even though it is exhausting; however, I can't help but feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I try to treat these kids the way I would have wanted someone to treat my son when he was little -- I buy crafting supplies so that we can create things, bring over ingredients so that we can make treats, and buy/make them little presents. The house is always a disaster, so I clean up when I'm there, run the dishwasher, and once, I even did laundry (that I also put away) -- and I've never been thanked for these extras, but it makes me feel better, so I keep doing it.

Up until she had the youngest, I watched the older two kids for free for more than a year, and when there were three, she offered to pay me. I needed to start working part-time, so rather than look for a job, I told her I would continue to watch the kids. Now, she is changing her schedule, and I agreed to watch the kids three mornings a week, for 5 hours, until school starts again in August.

I hate bringing up money, but shouldn't she offer to pay me a little bit more -- for more hours, and for being there more days? When she wasn't paying me, she offered to create a resume for me (at the beginning of last year). I gave her all of my information, and asked her about it at the end of last summer, and more recently, two weeks ago. She knows I really need to find a part-time job at this point, and I asked if she could just give me whatever she had so that I could start applying for jobs. I haven't seen it.

In addition to the regular babysitting, she also calls upon me to watch the kids if she has an appointment, or if they want to go out at night, and only once has she offered to give me a little bit more money. In fact, one night, I thought they would be home at a reasonable time, since I would be getting up at 5 a.m. the following morning to go back to their house, and they didn't get home until almost 11 p.m. Much like George McFly, I'm not good at confrontation, and telling people that I feel like I'm being taken advantage of is not easy for me. I get that money is tight for everyone, and that is why I watched the kids for free for so long. I also know that how people choose to spend their money is none of my business, but when I see people buy (what I consider) unnecessary crap, it makes me feel undervalued.

I do not believe in cosmic karma, nor do I believe that doing good results in some kind of amazing afterlife -- I believe in doing things that help others out, and making life easier for others, but I also believe in being fair to those who help you. I'm at a loss for what to do at this point. I feel like I have a commitment to the kids to be there for the next 10 weeks, and I do love spending time with them, but I'm feeling resentful. Should I just ignore it, or do I bring up the money, and the resume, one more time?

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