We've all heard the expression it takes a village. When we're talking about raising babies, especially in today's fast-paced and often overly busy lives, having a village of help with a newborn available is a huge blessing. In an ideal world, we'd have enough friends and family to always be on call to lend a hand. In reality, that's not most often the case.
As nurturing and strong women by nature, it can be a difficult feat just to ask for help, let alone muster the courage to hire help. I know I thought I'd be able to manage it all once baby was born, and even when baby number two arrived. I had guilty thoughts when I needed some assistance, and even began to battle thoughts in my mind of "I'm not doing enough."
Enough! Enough of that negative self-talk! One of the strongest and most empowering choices I made, and we can make as women and moms, is to ask for help. Sometimes, that means we need to hire help with baby. Surrender to the truth one very wise mentor once shared with me, "You may be able to do it all. Just not at once."
Finding help with your baby is a challenging thought, as we naturally want to be there for our child as often as possible. Yet, being refreshed as a mom can do wonders for your heart and soul, and therefore your patience in mothering. Hiring the right kind of help with your newborn can be one of the best mothering decisions you may make.
Webster's defines a babysitter as, "a person employed to care for a young child or children." It goes on to say in an example sentence, "a babysitter who is a great favorite with the kids because heʼs always thinking of fun things to do." Think of that, your babysitter can have a fresh, new perspective of fun with baby! In other words, babysitters can make you and baby both giggle and smile!
When hiring a babysitter, typically, the parents leave the house for a set number of hours while the babysitter cares for baby or children. The care might just be for a one-time date night with hubby, or time away for mom to get a pedicure or perhaps attend a meeting. You may consider employing a babysitter for more than just one time and even set up a regular schedule.
Before hiring a babysitter, seek references or use a vetted company who sources the best and runs background checks. Ask the babysitter if she has any Red Cross babysitting or similar training. And, set clear expectations for babysitter's role and payment.
You are still in charge. Do they need to check in with you via facetime while you're out? Set up the parameters. Should they be playing with certain blocks or watching a special baby DVD? Let them know. Do you want them to empty the dishes, pick up the toys or fold a basket of laundry while baby sleeps and they watch their favorite show? Make sure they know and agree to the tasks in advance.
A mommy's helper can be a huge support and saver of sanity! Typically, a mommy's helper comes from a direct referral of someone you know. Perhaps your mommy's helper could be a tween girl or boy from a church or moms group, a responsible child of a friend with younger siblings, or even a neighbor.
With a mother's helper, you'll still be home and supervising more closely, but can be getting some assistance for a couple hours at a time playing with baby while you accomplish some much-needed tasks, or even get a nap! Think of all the ways a helper can help you, mom.
Maybe you need to organize closets or kitchen cabinets while baby is entertained with goofy faces? Mommy's helpers are a perfect solution. The laundry and ironing are backing up, dishes are piling over the sink, weeds are spilling into the garden, and you need to finish a work-at-home project for your side hustle. Yep. Mommy's helpers are an awesome fit for just the help you need while you accomplish some at-home goals.
Not only is a mommy's helper helping you, you are also helping another young child by teaching responsibility and giving them the gratification of working for an income. Typically, you won't compensate a mommy's helper as much as a traditional babysitter because of age and limited work time. And, their mom is probably grateful, too!
Au Pair or Nanny
"A girl or woman employed to care for a young child or children," is the Webster's definition of a nanny, while an au pair is defined as, "a usually young foreign person who cares for children and does domestic work for a family in return for room and board and the opportunity to learn the family's language."
In actuality, hiring an au pair can be a very similar experience to hosting a foreign exchange student. She may become a part of your family, help you on a close to full-time basis, and the fees may be exceptionally more reasonable than you'd expect. You'll need to make sure you have room in your home and room in your heart to host an additional family member. If properly matched, an au pair can become a dear friend and invaluable assistant to you as a mom.
By law, an au pair cannot work longer than 10-hour days, totaling 45 hours maximum weekly. The US State Department has a mandated weekly stipend established for an au pair at $195.95. Then, you need to consider agency fees which can range from $7,500- $8,500. Make sure and do extensive research for available upfront registration fee discounts, as these fees are non-refundable.
Be wise when considering an au pair to make sure it's the best choice, all around, for your family. Be wise, but also beware. Author Allyson Downey says on her site, Here's the Plan, there have been some real horror stories with au pairs ranging from car accidents to unexpected variable costs like cell phones to au pairs racking up exorbitant grocery budgets by excessively eating the host families "out of house and home."
Typically, a nanny is a domestic helper and therefore would be more of an investment in a larger salary. I have dear friends who were employed as nanny's for celebrities, pastors, and professional sports players. Perhaps you've seen stories of nannies becoming as close as family in the movies, like the recent Christopher Robin. All of my friends who were employed as nannies are still very close to their former employers, even after the children have grown.
Whichever direction you'd take with full-time help with your baby to head back to work, make sure you've done some serious interviewing, both the placement agencies and through reference and background checking.
However you decide to hire help with your baby, know it's a sign of strength as a mom, and never a weakness. Enjoy the time, but make the most of it! Take it from a mom of a son who just started driving yet remembers baby-wearing as if it was yesterday. Time flies.