The Ultimate Hack to Find (Almost) Free Help

Every mom needs a mothers helper. Even if mothers helpers were more popular in 1955 than they are today, I'm quite sure there are some things that shouldn't go out of style. Like this, for example. 

Considered a “babysitter in training,” a mother’s helper does just that — helps Mom. They are babysitters generally considered too young to care for children on their own but old enough to responsibly play with children while Mom is busy (yet present). Most mother’s helpers find jobs with families that have more than one child. While Mom is feeding the baby, a mother’s helper can keep the older children occupied. In addition to playing with the children, a mother’s helper may be asked to perform light housework or run errands. During the holidays, mothers’ helpers can be hired to help Mom wrap gifts, decorate the house, and even assist with baking.
— Care.com

Very few twelve-year-olds can find work, but a lot of twelve-year-olds like money. And many parents want their kids to have opportunities for responsibility and learning that would come with babysitting. 

So here’s the plan.

In exchange for a small amount of money, a trustworthy tweenager comes over and plays with your kids, feeds them, changes the diapers, while you get actual things done. My suggestion here is not that she is left with the kiddos, but rather that she stays with the kiddos in a nearby room while you tackle, say, all of your life goals or the laundry. Which, for the love, every mother has to do once in a while. There is actual life that must be accomplished. 

How to find A Tweenager

  • Your friends kids
  • At your church
  • Friends of friends
  • Local clubs for kids (i.e. Girl Scouts, Girls on the Run, etc. Contact the leader of the group to see if they’d be willing to let the girls parents know about the opportunity)
  • If your kids are involved in any programming that might cater to multi-ages, it’s worth talking to their piano teacher/jujitsu instructor/soccer coach to see if they might know of kids they’d recommend.
  • Trusted websites like Care.com and others. 

What Age?

I know some super mature 10-year-olds. And I know 25-year-olds that I wouldn’t trust with my kids. So, you know. Be smart. They need to be mature, trustworthy, on the high end of the responsibility scale for their respective age, and their influences need to be trustworthy.

Boundaries, please

Depending on your mothers helpers age, abilities, and familiarity, you can feel free to set up as many boundaries as needed. Here are some ideas, especially for those on the younger end:

  • No cellphone during work
  • No carrying your kids around (for really young ones) 
  • If the toddler needs to go to the bathroom, you’ll take them.
  • No cooking. Show them how to make basic meals.
  • Make a list of specific programs your kids are allowed to watch.

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep her parents in the loop on everything.
  • Clearly state the job description.
  • Don’t assume they know how to do stuff. Show them, teach them.
  • Have food and drinks available for your helper.
  • Let them know they can ask you questions at any time, and to come get you if you’re needed.
  • Be clear about expectations and boundaries, and communicate all of those clearly to the parents. 
  • Communicate kindly and gently. Remember- this kiddo is learning a lot. Lots of grace.
  • Decide together on a fair wage, schedule, and the rest of it. If you decide to have a true ‘schedule’- stick to your end of that bargain.
  • Be clear about the job description. If you assign other tasks than those agreed upon, talk to her and her parents first.

Let's talk about payment

How much your mother's helper makes depends entirely on age, level of responsibility, how many kids you have, and what they/their parents require. Obviously, you wouldn't pay an 11-year-old learning how to babysit the same as you might a 16-year-old who can run errands for you or watch the kids while you're out. It's recommended that you start young mothers helpers in the $5-$8 range, and older/more experienced helpers closer to what you would pay a normal babysitter. But again- entirely depends on your situation, where you live, and the normal pay rate for where you are. 

Having an in-home helper who can just take the kids to a different room of the house for an hour or two can make all the difference in the world. With a little bit of searching, you’ll likely find a few great candidates with whom you can set up a schedule!

Have you tried a mothers helper? How did it go? 

Comment below and tell us your story!