Parents may feel tweens are too young for babysitting on their own, but many tweens want to make money. Working as a mother’s helper can be a great compromise. Tweens can earn money while learning babysitting skills that will benefit them when they are old enough to babysit on their own.
What is a Mother’s Helper?
A mother’s helper is a combination of a playmate and a babysitter. Unlike a playmate, a mother’s helper provides some supervision for the children. Unlike a babysitter, a mother’s helper is not left alone with the children.
Instead, the tween provides a distraction for the children through play or crafts for kids while the mom or dad can tackle housework, handle some work at home or make important phone calls. The tween is empowered to handle basic discipline, but has an adult on hand if the situation becomes too challenging.
Choosing to Work as a Mother’s Helper
Before deciding to work as a mother’s helper there are several things parents of tweens and the tweens themselves need to consider. Decide together which days and what hours the tween will be available to work. Will the tween be able to work for a couple hours after school or will she be limited to Friday nights, weekends and summer work? Keep in mind, the family hiring the tween will want him or her available when the mom or dad needs extra help with the children, not during the typical date-night hours.
The next issue to decide before choosing to work as a mother’s helper is who will provide transportation. Will the family hiring the tween pick her up at home or will the tween’s parents provide transportation? One of the easiest ways to settle this for tweens who live in urban or suburban areas is to limit where the tween can work to the neighborhood where she lives. While this may limit the number of families who can hire the tween to work as a mother’s helper, it does give the tween more flexibility to walk to and from the job.
The last issue to discuss is the tween’s comfort level with caring for children of different ages. A tween from a big family or familiar with babies may be willing to work with children of all ages. A tween just starting out, however, may be more comfortable with children who are already potty trained. As his or her experience grows, the tween may be willing to branch out to include watching younger children.
How to Find Work for Tweens
Tweens who want to try working as a mother’s helper can start by asking families in their own neighborhood. This is the best option, when available, because it eliminates the need for transportation and ensures that the parents of the tween are comfortable with the situation. Another option is to ask members of the tween’s house of worship or families that share an after-school care program.
Flyers are an option to get more jobs, but there are some simple precautions to take. The parent of the tween should always be listed as the contact person, rather than the tween. It is best to place flyers where they will be seen by a small group of parents, like at a daycare center or church nursery, instead of a mall or grocery store.
Parents who work close to home may be willing to bring flyers to work or discuss the availability of their tween with coworkers. The best advertising is word of mouth so ask the hiring families to let their friends know that the tween is available to work as a mother’s helper.
Setting a Fair Price for Light Babysitting
Once a family that needs a mother’s helper is found, it is time to set the price. This will be determined by several factors, including the number of children, the ages of the children, the number of hours and the frequency of the work. If the hiring family expects the tween to change diapers, serve snacks or handle multiple young children the price can reflect the fact that the tween will be doing light babysitting instead of serving primarily as a playmate.
However, as a big portion of working as a mother’s helper includes playing with the children and keeping kids busy – instead of preparing meals, bathing the children or light housekeeping – the price should be lower than a babysitting job. A tween who has a steady job with the same family may offer a lower price per week in order to keep her services affordable. For example, a tween watching one child for three hours every week, may charge $30 per month instead of $10 per week. During the holidays or in the Spring when families want to spend more time cleaning, the tween may take additional one-time jobs at a slightly higher rate.
Tweens who want to make money can take jobs as a mother’s helper. Working as a mother’s helper will allow the tween to learn babysitting skills while earning money. Parents and the tween should decide in advance about availability, transportation and finding jobs. The light babysitting duties command a lower price but may lead to regular work, especially when the tween is ready to graduate to babysitting solo.