Happy almost weekend my friends! And a long one for us with the holiday which has me all, happy dancing.
For this week's Bebe talk, I thought I'd touch on one of my mama tricks. A Mother's Helper! Also one of the top questions I got when asked what you want to see more on the blog.
First a mother's helper is simply that, a sitter who entertains your littles while you are at home. Usually someone not yet old enough to babysit on their own but eager to get some experience under their belt. Best part is you are training your own sitter when they are the right age! SCORE.
When we moved here our neighbors daughter was not quite old enough for solo baby sitting but very much capable of entertaining Z ( she was 18 months). They pick out crafts from our craft box, run around the yard, read stories, sing songs, practice letters on the chalkboard, dance all while I stay in the house and prep dinner, (now) nurse her baby sister baby or even work on a blog post. Plus she has gotten to try a few recipes which is always great!
It is heavenly, less expensive than a sitter and most importantly my tot is having non-screen time entertainment while I get some stuff done around the house. Which is like #momwinning in my book.
When mama ask about how I survived bed rest with a toddler, my first answer is have a rockstar baby sitter & mother's helper. Both are key to keeping me sane. Because honestly trying to do it all will only put you over the edge.
I thought I would share a quick guide on what has made this successful for us.
1. How to find one. The best way to find a mother's helper is from referrals. Ask your friends, neighbors, colleagues and family if they have any young girls that are interested in making money as a helper. Reach out and ask. Unlike a traditional babysitter, a helper can be much younger, sometimes as young as 11-12 as you won’t be leaving the house If possible choose someone in your neighborhood or building (for you city dwellers). Hands down the best part is Kali lives next door and can walk right over and home, no need to arrange a driver (although during the dark winter months i do watch her walk over).
2. Give direction. Remember no babysitting experience means they'll need a little direction. I have a container full of different crafts, art supplies all on open shelving and easy to reach and most importantly I plug in ideas when she comes over for example, why don't you guys practice letters on the chalk board , or make cards for whom-ever's birthday that is coming up or simply go outside. I also always remind Zoe and her that they should put away all toys in their place and pick up any trash from snack.
3. Snacks. I start off each session with a snack and a drink. They sit in her playroom and have it, breaks the ice (if it's been a while Zoe won't want me to leave but I do try to give them the snack and leave them alone) Plus a snack makes sure no HANGRY Zoe come out... lol Anyone else's toddler get hangry?
4. Rules. We stick to our house rules, no running, yelling or extra snacks without a grownups permission. They also have to tell me when they are going outside or coming back in, I try my best to keep tabs and this helps me. Especially now that I have Ami. Z is potty trained but I still supervise the wiping, so our bathroom rule is that Kali should call to me when Z has to go potty. I know she can handle it but toddlers can be finicky and well I like to keep meltdowns and accidents to a minimum.
5. What do you pay them? If they have babysat before ask them! Talk to their parents about it too! Her mom was the one that shared what she pays her sitter and suggested the hourly rate. I like to include a little extra from time to time. (same for my amazing sitter!)
6. Interview them! Make it feel official, keep it light and fun and use this time for direction. Like what do you do if the child you are watching falls? or asks for tv? or is climbing something they shouldn't? once they answer, I would say something like "yes you are right, since the rule is no screen time while they are with you i would offer to read stories or do a craft and call a parent if they aren't listening. Our mother's helper is great at redirecting our three-ager and barely ever has to call me.
Do you have a mother's helper? What am I missing from this list?
Ps stay tuned for some awesome 4th of July popsicles for the kiddos.