How to be a Mother's Helper

Your child is old enough to help out with younger children

USA, New Jersey, New Jersey City, Older sister (12-13) reading book to younger (8-8-9)
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Tweens may not be old enough to lifeguard, waitress, or even babysit. But many preteens are more than capable of helping as a mother's helper. In fact, many teenage babysitters often begin as mother's helpers, and being a mother's helper is a great way for your tween to earn a little spending money, and learn valuable skills at the same time.

Below are a few tips to help your child be the best mother's helper in the neighborhood.

What is a Mother's Helper

A mother's helper is simply someone who helps watch smaller children, while one or both of the children's parents are still at home. Mother's helpers are a great resource for parents who need to finish up a project, rest, work, or simply need a little time alone. A mother's helper is not a full-fledged babysitter, but they do care for the children, and keep them entertained while the parents are busy elsewhere in the house.

Preteens make excellent mother's helpers because they are often willing to play with younger children, and they're motivated to express their independent skills. A good mother's helper will interact with the children he or she is watching, and finds it fun to be around younger children.

Marketing Your Tween

Your tween can create a brochure or a flyer to let neighbors and friends know that she's available to help as a mother's helper. The brochure should indicate the number of children your tween is willing to care for, as well as the ages your child is comfortable watching.

If your preteen isn't ready to watch infants or toddlers, be sure she indicates that as well.

For safety reasons, it's best that your preteen work for neighbors that your family knows well, or close family friends.

Interview the Parents

A good mother's helper will want to spend a little time speaking with the children's parents before an assignment, in order to find out the children's likes and dislikes.

You can help your tween prepare a worksheet of questions, such as:

  • What activities does your child enjoy most?
  • What foods are your children allowed to eat?
  • Are we allowed to play outside or in the backyard?
  • Can we watch television, and if so, what shows are allowed or not allowed?
  • Can we draw, make crafts or play with Play-Doh?
  • What time should your child go to bed?
  • Does your child need to work on homework?
  • What are your child's house rules?

In addition, your child should know how long he will be needed, and the rate of pay for the assignment.

Bring Goodies

Before your tween shows up for an assignment, have him pack a backpack with games, toys and books that are appropriate for the younger children. He can even bring items that he enjoyed when he was younger. The novelty of something new will excite the younger children, and help your preteen keep them occupied.

Snacks are also fun to pack, but clear any food items our child might bring with the children's parents beforehand, in order to avoid allergy issues or house rules about snacking or sweets.

Know How to Problem-Solve

Parents should be notified if a child is miserable, sick, or has been hurt, or is behaving dangerously. But if a child is merely refusing to brush his teeth, your preteen should try to problem-solve first, before going to the parent for help.

You can help your tween prepare for possible situations by role-playing common problems he might encounter.

Know the Safety Rules

It's important that your child know basic first-aid and safety rules and enforce them. For example, your preteen should know how to serve food safely to a toddler or preschooler. Your tween should also know what items in the house might be dangerous to a young child, such as scissors or knives.

In addition, your preteen should ask where the family's first aid kit is kept, and should know how to clean a scraped knee and apply a bandage. Of course, if a child is injured the parents will be home and available to deal with the situation.

But knowing how to deal with common and minor injuries will give your tween confidence and build his set of skills.

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