In one of life's little synchronicities, my sister provides also childcare.
Well, I "provide childcare." My sister "babysits" (her word). Though our job descriptions don't vary much, there is a world of difference. Witness the following conversation.
Sis: "I just found out on Friday that little Simon won't be coming next week. He's going to his grandmother's."
Me: "Well, that's nice. It'll lighten your load."
Sis: "Yeah, but I really needed the money."
There is a pause. I am appalled. She allows pay-as-you-go! If the child isn't in attendance, for any reason, the parent does not pay. Good heavens.
Not too long ago, I saw an article in our local paper written by a mother who was encouraging other mothers to pay for missed days and holidays, just as she did. She even paid for the occasional sick day for her caregiver. While I agreed with her position, I regretted that she saw her behaviour as exceptional. This should be standard.
I know there are sub-standard childcare providers. I know there are women who plonk the kids down in front of a television and only call them away in order to feed them Kraft macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. I know that. I am not arguing that these women deserve any better treatment.
If, however, you have a caregiver you love, if you're aways telling her "I don't know how you do it!" and telling your co-workers, "Candy is so wonderful; we couldn't get by without her, then Candy deserves her benefits. Just like you. (If you don't get benefits, the whole equation may need to be re-balanced, but in this article I am considering only those full-time worker bees with paid holiday time.)
In a professionally-run home daycare, the only reason a parent does not pay for a day is if the caregiver takes more than her allotted vacation days. Parents also pay if their holidays don't coincide with the caregiver's. If your child is in a daycare center, you pay when you take holidays. Why should home care be different?
Because I've been doing this for about a gazillion years, I also get a set number of sick/discretionary days per year. ("Discretionary?" Well, you know how difficult it is to get errands done with one or two children in tow. I do it routinely with half-a-dozen ... but do you really want your child there when I get my annual pap smear?)
My sister and I will likely never see eye-to-eye on this. But I doubt it's a coincidence that for her "The kids are pretty near the only good part of this job." Who's going to burn out sooner?
If you want your caregiver to be around to see your kids to school (and maybe beyond), it's wise to do what you can to see that she receives some job satisfaction from you, too.