My girlfriend just had her second baby, a daughter. She has a twenty-one month son as well. At one time she lived in LA and her husband worked in television. But due to the high cost of living and the fact that they had to work split schedules to keep one parent at home, which was something that they wanted to do, they packed their bags and moved to the Midwest, where they were able to purchase a house using only the equity in the home that they had owned in LA. Now the father stays at home and cares for the two children while my girlfriend works for a university as an assistant dean.
Her daughter was born just a month ago, so my friend is still at home on maternity leave. She says that while having two children at this point is not too overwhelming, she has very little time to get anything done, and of course this will be even more limited when she returns to work full time. To alleviate some of the stress and to give each parent a break as needed, they have hired a Mother´s Helper.
I hadn´t heard of Mothers´ Helpers until just recently, and now it seems like I´m seeing the term all over: on my birth board, from my parent friends, while I´m in class with my daughter. A Mother´s Helper is similar to a babysitter in that a person comes into the home and helps out with the children, but it differs in that a Mother´s Helper comes in and helps with the children while the parent remains in the house. This is a great option for a mother who has just had a young infant and needs some assistance while at home on maternity leave, but is also excellent for a work at home mom who needs a little relief a few hours a week. You might also use a Mother´s Helper if you just want some relief time on the weekend to clean your house or to lock yourself into the bedroom with a great book and a huge mug of steaming coffee.
So what can a helper do for you? She may assist in light housecleaning, or she might entertain and play with the toddler as you work or take care of another infant. A Mother´s Helper might also make snacks and light lunches and help get dinner ready. A Mother´s Helper works under the direct supervision of an adult, though, so you must be available to answer questions and give instructions as needed. Some Mother´s Helpers may also double as a babysitter if you have to leave the house and run errands, but this should be discussed in advance and pay should reflect the added responsibility when you are not at home.
There are some disadvantages to this type of care. For one, you must be available to supervise a Mother´s Helper. If you are a work at home mom, you understand the difficulty of working while your children are at home. However, if you set it up so that your office or workspace is in a different part of the house, and you ask that the helper keep your child in a separate area, you might be happy to know that they are still in the home and you can check in as you want. A Mother´s Helper is not a babysitter and therefore, if you have to run errands you will not be doing so while she is helping out. A second disadvantage may actually double as an advantage: You can set up activities that your child will do with the helper. While this may seem like an additional amount of work for you, you will be in charge of choosing activities you would like to see your child participate in. For instance, you might create some learning activities that the helper can direct, or some arts and crafts that you know your child will enjoy.
How can you find a Mother´s Helper? Check www.craigslist.org if it is available in your area, place an ad in your church bulletin, or ask around. Friends might know of children getting out of school for the summer, and these kids just might be interested in earning some extra income while helping out around your house.