Can a Mother's Helper Help You?

Mother's helper

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A mother's helper is an individual who helps out a parent or family needing extra care with their children while the parent is at home. This role is often held by young girls who are not quite full-fledged babysitting age in order to gain skills or by older students seeking training for future childcare positions. 

Because of the varied duties and because an adult is often in the home as well, the role is different from that of a babysitter, nanny or in-home care provider. A growing use of a mother's helper is for parents who work from home, home-school, or have a home-based business. Mother's helpers are not required to have any specific training or qualifications, but CPR and first aid training are recommended.

Duties of Mother's Helper

A mother's helper mostly works under some supervision to handle all aspects of childcare, errands, easy meal preparation, and light housework. You can hire a mother's helper for many different reasons. Some of the ways that a mother's helper can make a parent's life a little easier include:

  • Allowing parent to take a much needed quick nap or shower or bathroom break
  • Doing the dishes while mom plays with the kids
  • Entertaining the toddler while mom feeds, soothes, or tends to a baby
  • Freeing up parent to get the administrative stuff done, such as paying bills, laundry, and organizing the house
  • Helping with homework
  • Making easy lunches and preparing snacks
  • Playing with the kids while mom does some work or jumps on a conference call

There are many ways that you can tailor your mother's helper to the specific needs of your family. This job is very flexible, may be either part-time or full-time, live in or live out, may include babysitting on occasion (when the helper is in sole charge), and may be an hourly or salaried position.

Finding and Training a Helper

The best way to find a mother's helper is from referrals, by word of mouth and using the connections you have in your community. Ask around at a playgroup, the YMCA, a gym class, or in your book club.

Most moms of teens or tweens are eager to help their daughters gain babysitting skills. Arrange a time to talk with your potential mother's helper and her parents to make sure everyone is in agreement before you hire her. 

It is your responsibility to train a mother's helper to help your family in a way that is most useful to you. 

Give her detailed instructions on how she can help. Many mother's helpers are young and may be new to the role, so be as specific as possible about your wants, needs, and amount of time tasks will take.

Interviewing and Hiring

Once you find some potential mother's helpers, set up an interview. During an interview, have the potential helper interact with your kids, especially if that will be her main task.

Pay attention to her energy. Is she fun, interactive, and kind to kids? Use your mom intuition and choose someone who brings a smile to your kids' faces and someone who will fit well into your family dynamic.

Discuss what foods the kids are and are not allowed to eat. Is the mother's helper allowed in all rooms in the home or are some off-limits? 

Once you've decided on a mother's helper, set some household rules and boundaries.

Set boundaries early in the relationship and stick to them. Physical and emotional boundaries are important when you have someone working in your home and with your children. For many girls, this may be their first job, so make your expectations clear. When people know what to expect, they are more comfortable and can do a better job.

Compensating a Mother's Helper

Compensation will vary, depending on experience and where you live. For comparison, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, although the minimum wage for your state may be higher. As time goes on and your mother's helper gains experience, you may want to raise her pay to whatever the going rate is in your neighborhood.

1 Source
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  1. U.S. Department of Labor. Wages.

By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.