What is a Mommy’s Helper?
In our experience, a Mommy’s Helper is a responsible young girl who comes to the house for a couple of hours and plays with the kids while Mommy takes some time to tackle in-home tasks.
For us, a Mommy’s Helper has worked a little bit differently from when we’ve had a babysitter come in order for me to leave to go to an appointment, run errands, or head out on a date night with hubby.
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Over the years, babysitters have definitely been helpful at times, but Mommy’s Helpers have probably been the most fantastic, and in this post, I’m sharing WHO WE USE and HOW IT WORKS for our family.
Mommy’s Helpers: Important Things to Consider
Age/Maturity: When a Mommy’s Helper comes to our house, I don’t leave. I stay home and work there while she is nearby with the kids. With that being said, I don’t necessarily worry about her having a driver’s license or being of a certain age – like I would consider for a babysitter who I was planning to leave alone with my kids. One of the helpers we use from time to time started coming to play with the kids before she was even in middle school. My kids love spending time with her, and I’m always in a nearby room in case something comes up.
Experience – Once again, you’re probably going to be somewhere in the house, so while you definitely want someone who enjoys kids, makes responsible decisions, etc. it’s not quite as important that they be a diaper-changing pro or CPR certified. If they are, great – but if not, consider this a training ground for them as they may someday become your go-to babysitter or a mom themselves!
Transportation – My personal preference has been that the Mommy’s Helper have transportation for getting to/from my house. You may have a different situation where you don’t mind providing a ride for your mommy’s helper, but for me: car seats, travel time, car seats, traffic, car seats, planning around nap times/snack times/meal times, car seats, etc. – honestly, it’s just not worth it.
Punctuality – I may be starting to sound a bit demanding here, but it is really important that your Mommy’s Helper be someone whose transportation arrives on time. Okay, maybe you are a little more laid back than I am and people running late doesn’t bother you in the least, but this mama likes to keep everyone in a nice little routine (our life just flows more smoother that way), and it is really, really, really helpful when others are consistent about running on time.
If you’re like me, you are planning your day around the schedules of lots of little people, and someone arriving 15-30 minutes later than planned can leave you feeling really frustrated – and not at all in the frame of mind to tackle your to-do list (especially if one or more babies are crying). Do things come up? Absolutely – for everyone – and I think it’s only fair to be considerate of that – but if tardiness becomes the norm, it might be time to rethink things.
Strengths – As you get to know your Mommy’s Helper (or maybe you already know them pretty well), consider their specific strengths:
- Is art their thing? Maybe they would enjoy drawing/painting with your kids.
- Do they love sports? Send them outside to play soccer with your little ones.
- Are they interested in becoming a teacher? Have them read aloud with your kids.
I want my helper to enjoy being with us, and I love when they’re able to teach my kids something new – from their perspective.
Payment – What do you pay your babysitters? That’s a good starting point! However, with younger girls just starting out (especially those who require a bit of assistance from you while they’re there), a lower amount is perfectly acceptable. In a situation like that, I would suggest talking this over with their parents to see where their comfort level lies.
Start with a Conversation:
If you’re considering a Mommy’s Helper, I would kick things off with a conversation that includes the helper and her parent(s).
- Let them know you’re looking for someone who will simply play with your kids while you tackle tasks at-home.
- Chat about the specific days/times of day that would be most helpful for you and inquire about their schedule. These days kids/teens are BUSY – busier than I ever was at that age – so it’s important to know up front how able they are to commit to the schedule you have in mind.
- Discuss payment – I promise it doesn’t have to be as awkward as you might think.
What I Do While a Mommy’s Helper is at My House:
I talk a little bit about this in my e-book: Homeschooling Your Preschooler, but I have used those couple of hours a Mommy’s Helper is a my house to do all kinds of different things.
There have been times when I have spent the entire time working on laundry or prepping meals or cleaning the bathrooms (I always seem to want to put off that chore. ha!).
Some days, I’ve determined that my time would be spent cleaning out a closet, sorting through clothes my kids have outgrown, gathering broken/unused items for donation, etc.
Other times, I’ve taken the chance to think through homeschooling lesson plans, work one-on-one with one of my kids, revamp an area of our school room, etc.
I like to think about it this way: anything that’s tough to do when babies are crying or toddlers are running around or big boys are throwing swords, I like to do it while a helper is here…if I can!
How Often Do I Use a Helper?
I would love to have a Mommy’s Helper come once a week, but things don’t always work out that way. Like I said, kids/teens are busy and their schedules don’t always allow for a once a week commitment, but I have a couple of girls I like to use, and I will take their help anytime they’re available. Back-to-school, the holidays, end-of-the-school year seem to be seasons when I have a little less help – with summer being the time when there seems to be extra help on hand: sometimes being able to have a helper a couple days a week!
Think through what would be most helpful to you and then consider if there is someone you know who would be the perfect fit!
Love the idea of having a Mommy’s Helper? I bet you would ALSO like the idea of a Cleaning Swap.