When you're a stay-at-home working mom, success can be a double-edge sword. You toil for months, years even, to build a flexible career that allows you to be a working mother with a work and family balance. I have been lucky enough to make the morning hours before my child wakes, and his afternoon nap, as my "office hours." But I know those days are slipping away. Once the kids get older, naps get shorter, activities grow and, perhaps, a brand-new baby is added to the mix -- so it may be necessary to bring in a child-care provider to help out a few hours a day, while you work from home.
You sought a non-traditional career for a reason, so it's important to define your expectations of a mother's helper to continue the work-life balance you want. If you plan to work from a home office while the mother's helper is "on duty," make that clear during the interview process. Cynthia Reinacher, founder of The Columbus Nanny Company recommends that you seek a sitter who is "resourceful, creative and will keep the children engaged. This way, they will want to spend time interacting with the nanny instead of trying to get to Mommy." She also suggests giving the mother's helper a list of your children's interests and favorite games, as well as any supplies needed for art projects and crafts.
Responding to pleas for "Mommy" while your mother's helper is on duty won't help anyone. Mary Schwartz of SitterCity recommends hiring a mother's helper whose background specifically matches your brood's needs, so that you are confident enough to step away from "mommy world" for a couple of hours.
If you are comfortable having your mother's helper shuttle the kids to and from school or to after-school activities while you work, it can save you a lot of time. Schwartz says to make certain the care provider has a valid driver's license, car insurance, and a safe vehicle during the interview -- and know that you should pay for the gas they use on the trips. If the mother's helper will use your car, add additional driver coverage to your insurance policy.
Reinacher also suggests having the mother's helper pitch in on chores like folding the children's laundry or light dinner prep if the kids are napping during his or her shift. Make sure to address this issue openly during the interview. Never assume that your care provider will take on these tasks -- and be prepared to pay more for a chlld care provider who does.
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