In praise of mother’s helpers

And I don’t mean the TV.

Over the past year, and now with four children, we have seen our family expenses ballooning but are more in need now than ever of an extra set of hands. We don’t have the income now to cover the amount of daytime help that I need for sane summer months… unless the help costs only $3-4/hour.

So, at the Feast of the Ascension Mass a few weeks ago, I started recruiting 12 year olds in our parish. They’re out of school for the summer, and idle;  too young to have jobs or to have friends who drive, but old enough to enjoy a small income; and fresh enough to think babysitting is exciting. Our mother’s helper Natalie lives close enough to walk. I suggest activities for her to do with the kids and get out the supplies, I handle discipline, and I don’t expect her to keep the kids away from me. Instead, she is an extra set of hands and a great source of ideas and energy to help with my older three. I’m able to get a surprising amount done when she’s around, and I also have the space to enjoy my new baby. And the kids love a break from their worn-out mom. It makes a world of difference to have her two afternoons a week.

So, if you’re like me, finding your hands full and your head spinning but your piggy bank empty, may I recommend a mother’s helper this summer?

Happy summer days to you all!

  • Julia Attaway

    And as the mom of a 12yo, let me tell you this is a win-win solution! Mine earns *all* of her pocket money this way.u00a0

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Kat

    JM, having a mother’s helper at the swimming pool really saved us last summer. I was having a lot of trouble taking care of both my new baby and my toddler at the neighborhood pool (my 6 year-old was fine, although I wanted to keep an eye on him too!), so I enlisted the help of a friend’s 5th grade daughter. She played with my toddler while I took care of the baby, and it all worked out pretty well.u00a0nMaybe you should have her come 3 afternoons a week :)

  • Claire

    Our two sons volunteered one afternoon each a weeku00a0to help when a friend was having a difficult pregnancy. They did anything she asked (vacuuming, laundry, playing with the children, dishes, starting supper, . . .) and didn’t stop until university courses got in the way. The benefits: love all ’round!u00a0The children adore the “boys” and our sons have a wonderful time with all-too-scarce visitsu00a0with the family (now with 7 children– ages from 1-almost 12). The relationships that developed could not have happened any other way! And there’s nothing like the enthusiastic greeting of a pre-schooler to right the gloomiest day.nnThey didn’t get paid simply because we knew the family could not afford any extra costs. We counted it as one of their ways of tithing. They are enthusiastic encouragers of the “mother’s helper” role to this day.

  • The Happy Mother

    So what do you do when your oldest could be the mother’s helper?u00a0 My daughter just turned 11, and I would like to hire HER to be my helper, but I feel strange paying her.u00a0 Should I have her help me for set hours and pay her accordingly?u00a0 How do other mothers divide up “mother’s helper” time vs. regular chore time?

    • Jurismater

      Happy Mother, what a great idea! I don’t completely know from experience, but kind of, because we are also hiring a neighborhood 10 year old one afternoon a week. My kids play with her almost every day anyway, but I talked with her and her mom and said I want to hire her Thursdays from 2-4pm. She’d do it for free, but my paying her makes her treat it much more seriously, and I’m able to set boundaries. None of her siblings are allowed over during that time, or any other neighborhood kids; I expect her to read to the kids and help them with projects and help them clean up when they’re finished. Then at 4pm I give her $5 and they can all go outside and play as usual.nnSo I think the keys to success would be (1) setting aside a 2 hour time frame where your daughter is your employee and letting her know exactly what tasks you’d like her to accomplish for you and (2) paying her real money. I wouldn’t use any ticket system or IOUs or in-kind privileges for payment or it’s not going to be taken seriously as employment.nnSo cool that you have an 11 year old girl around : )

  • http://profiles.google.com/adoptivus.mater Mrs C

    This is a really great idea. I’ll try it myself when our brood expands.u00a0


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