Today in the Ultimate Guide to Baby's First Year Bloghop we are covering ways to care for new parents. I wanted to talk about hiring a Mother's Helper because it has been a fantastic experience for me.
A mother's helper is a kid, usually in the 9-13 year old range, who comes over and plays with your baby while you are home. Consider your mother's helper a babysitter in training. You can tend to chores, rest in the next room or just have some “me time” while your Mother's Helper gets a safe place to learn some babysitting basics!
This arrangement can be beneficial for everyone involved but there are some considerations before you begin.
Choosing a Mother's Helper
Some things to consider when choosing a mother's helper include:
-Does he or she like younger kids and babies? Would he or she really like to spend time doing this?
-Is he or she mature enough to be “in charge?”
-Will he or she require supervision by you in order to play with your child? The last thing you want is to get into a situation where you are now babysitter your child AND someone else's!
-Will the time spent at your house detract from school work?
-How will he or she get to your house and get home afterwards?
-Does he or she have any allergies or medical conditions? Either way it is best to have emergency contact information handy.
Consider Your Expectations
What are you looking for out of this arrangement? It sounds silly to ask this but it is important that you and your mother's helper talk about what is expected so that you are both on the same page.
-Who will handle diaper changes? Feeding?
-Is he or she expected to clean up toys at the end?
-How far away will you be (the next room, the back yard, the basement) and how should your mother's helper let you know when you are needed?
-Are there any off limits behaviors? For example is TV allowed? If your kids are mobile, are the allowed to climb or stand on furniture? Is your child allowed up or down stairs?
-Help your Mother's Helper to learn what to do if your child fusses and what he or she likes to do for fun. Keep in mind that your Mother's Helper likes to do big kid things and may need help thinking of what smaller kids might light to do.
-Will you be paying your Mother's Helper? $1-$2 per hour is amazing money for a kid that age and it shows that you value their time. I know I would take something more seriously if I were being paid!
-Do you require any outside training? Classes are available for kids to learn CPR and basic babysitting skills. It might be worth the investment to split the cost of such a class with the parents of your Mother's Helper as an investment in your future full time baby sitter!
-Do you have more than one child? If so decide if your Mother's Helper will be responsible for one or more of them.
Real Life Stories
I've had the pleasure of hiring two different young ladies as my Mother's Helper and in case it helps you to pick your own I thought I'd tell you about my experiences.
When my daughter was about 2 years old I met a neighborhood mom with two daughters, one of whom was in high school and one was in 7th grade. The mom saw me with my daughter and mentioned that her girls both babysit, the older one at night and the younger one as a Mother's Helper.
Months later when I was ready we set up a weekly session with the 7th grader. She walked to our house from school and her mom would come pick her up. She had babysat with her sister before and took a class about babysitting. She took right over when she walked in, engaging my daughter in play, handling diaper changes and feeding her. My daughter loved her and it went really well. We did this for several months after which time her and her mother decided that moving on to 8th grade would mean a harder school load and we would have to stop. I really enjoyed it and will keep her number handy for a few years down the line for when she will be ready for prime time babysitting.
Fast forward a year and now we have a son who is 19 months old and my daugher is almost 4. We also have a nearby neighbor with two kids about as far apart as our kids are, but obviously years older. The daughter is 9 now and she has always been super sweet to our kids. We mentioned a few times in conversation that it would be great to have her come over as a Mother's Helper and she and her parents loved the idea as well.
Things were a lot different in out house because instead of one docile toddler, we now had an active preschooler and a very, VERY active toddler. Our lovely 9 year old neighbor came over and the kids just loved her, they all had such a blast! But I will say that I made the mistake of assuming this would all be the same as it was with our first Mother's Helper. I did not talk through my expectations or give her any suggestions on how to keep the kids busy, I just assumed she was a kid and would know what to do.
We had weeks of great play time and then my daughter started to change. She seemed less interested. My son stopped napping in the afternoon so now he was going to be awake for more of the time our neighbor was here. I could see that it was getting harder but it took me a while to realize my oversight on expectations.
We had a heart to heart and I was really surprised to hear all the feedback that SHE had about how hard it was and how things had changed. She was SO sweet and forth-coming and honest. It was one of the hardest things to do to initiate this talk because the last thing I wanted to do was to make her think I thought badly of her. This was a hard thing she was doing- occupying two very different kids!
We talked with her father as well and kept communication lines open between us. We took a short break and when she came back it went really well. I had learned to lay my son down for a later nap, which would mean he would still be asleep while she was here. This would give her and my daughter time to play together, which my daughter LOVES. Our neighbor started to bring over a toy or game that she used to like to play with when she was little, which has been such a treat for my daughter too! When my son wakes up, they all have a snack and now that the weather is nice the girls go out to the back yard after the snack and I have some time alone with my son. This schedule is perfect for me.
I really love that my daughter gets such quality time with a very sweet older girl. I'm grateful that I get some time alone with my son as well as time to get things done around the house. I also really like that our Mother's Helper is getting some valuable babysitting experience.
All in all I have found having a Mother's Helper a real life saver! I hope these tips and stories help you to find one too!
Ultimate Guide to Baby's First Year
This post is part of HUGE, gigantic, massive Ultimate Guide to Baby's First Year Bloghop. You can check out all the amazing posts on the topic of taking care of parents at the Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of New Parents ~ Lemon Lime Adventures. Follow along here at the pinterest board for all the series posts and remember to enter the HUGE GIGANTIC GIVEAWAY!!