This Mama Needs Help! How To Hire and Use a Mother’s Helper

April 3, 2013  |  

Let’s face it—no matter how helpful the rest of the family is when it comes to keeping the house in order, the buck always stops with mom. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, managing the kids: there’s always something to do. There’s not a mom out there who hasn’t wished she could clone herself or hire a nanny or a housekeeper. Since mommy-cloning probably won’t be approved by the FDA anytime soon and the rates for nannies and housekeepers are astronomical, some moms are exploring another option for at-home help.  Mother’s helpers, or family helpers as they are known in some circles, are the new trend in domestic bliss and there are good reasons why.

A mother’s helper is totally different from a nanny, babysitter or a housekeeper. Nannies and babysitters usually care for children while the parents are away from the home. And a housekeeper typically only cleans and cares for the home, and doesn’t babysit the children.  Amother’s helper on the other hand is a young teen or even a tween who assists the family with childcare, laundry, cooking, cleaning and other household chores while the family is home to offer supervision. In other words, a mother’s helper is that extra hand that every mom wishes she had. With the going rate for mother’s helpers being as low as $2 or $3 an hour in some parts of the country, this just might be the household solution you’ve been looking for.

So how do you find, train and put these amazing helpers to work?  Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Network for help: The best way to find a responsible mother’s helper is to use your network.  Talk to friends and other parents that you know to see if they have children, grandchildre, nieces or nephews between the ages of 10 and 14 interested in getting solid work experience. Other resources include churches, playgroups and community centers.
  • Get the parents on your team: When interviewing potential mother’s helpers, make sure that their parents are a part of the interview process.  If the parents are responsible, chances are their child will be, too.  You’ll also want to assure the family that you’ll work with them to make sure the child’s family and homework obligations come before their work at your home.
  • Write down the rules: Be sure to outline in black and white what is expected of your mother’s helper. Once you agree on the days and times she’ll work, you’ll want to write it down.  It’s also a great idea to outline in writing what her responsibilities will include.
  • Pay competitively and follow the law:  Helpers should be paid based on their age, experience and the going rate in your community.  An 11-year-old helper with no experience would be paid much less than a 15-year-old who has worked before.  Every state is different, but federal law requires you to pay federal employment taxes for individuals who work in your home.  Your tax professional or the IRS’s Household Employer Tax Guide can answer questions.
  • Make working a joy: Find tasks for your helper to do that will make your life easier and that he will enjoy. Maybe he can keep your children entertained while you prepare dinner. Or perhaps you can involve him in the cooking (and eating!) of a dinner dish she likes.  When he dusts or sweeps, put on his favorite music.  Most importantly, make sure that everyone in the family treats him or her with respect.

By following these simple tips, you’ll have that extra set of hands you’ve been dreaming of to have your house running smoothly.  And maybe, just maybe, mama can get a little rest!

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