When does the line between family member and full time child minder become blurred?

A concerned mum has taken to popular parenting forum Mumsnet to ask if she is being unreasonable to expect her sister to pay her for childcare. Due to the flexible nature of her job, the mum would be able to offer her sister seven hours of care per day Monday to Friday, presumably until the child is ready to go to school. While we’re all for helping out your family, at what point do you have the awkward conversation about some compensation in return?

A Full Time Arrangement

Posting on the forum, the worried mum says she dreads the thought of having to talk to her sister about the issue. “My sister has told me she is pregnant,” she wrote. “I currently work from home part time in a job that is very flexible and fits around looking after my own children. My sister would want to go back to work full time after the maternity leave. We previously discussed me possibly being able to look after any potential future children due to my work flexibility, but no actual in depth details were ever really discussed.” We can totally understand the awkwardness of the situation, especially given how close the sisters are, but in addition to her part time job and caring for her own children, the mum would be taking on a huge responsibility…

Total Madness

Responses to the post highlighted the day to day challenges of taking on such a commitment. “What if you are sick? Your children are sick? You want a holiday?” asked one reply. “Your sister will benefit financially from you allowing her to go back to work with no childcare costs. Why on earth would you think that’s fair that she benefits 100 percent and you benefit 0 percent? That’s madness.” Even though the mum later clarified that her sister had offered her some money, she said that she felt guilty accepting it, but said she was determined to have a proper discussion and work out an arrangement that suits them both.

Discussions involving family and money are never easy, but we think clear communication from the start could have avoided a lot of stress for this generous mum!

In what situation would you ask for financial compensation from a family member? Tell us in the comments!


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  • If it was a permanent arrangement I would be asking for compensation.
    If if was just the odd occasion here and there, I’d happily help out friends and family and I know theyd do the same for us


  • I use to watch my nephews all the time. Free of charge my sister would would bring food and snacks for them o her own accord which I thought was very nice.


  • Everyone should pay for their child’s care, no matter who it is with.


  • She’s justified in asking for compensation, at the very least if I were her sister I’d be buying groceries and paying for petrol or something in thanks – it wouldn’t even come close to childcare costs but at least it’s something. It’s not like her time is worthless and any child she’s looking after is going to need to be fed, bathed and entertained.


  • I would say yes I can help but backup child care must be arranged as well. So you help but it’s not your new unpaid job! That way you can look after bubs but if you want time off or 5 days is too much both of you are prepared. Let her know you love her but are unsure that you can commit to being the full time carer.


  • I am a stay at home mum and would offer this to my family or friends but I would ask they provide food and drinks to cover it


  • 7 hours per day Monday to Friday is full time care and yes I would be asking for some sort of renumeration.


  • Your sisters offered so you should take some sort of payment. Even if it is only half of what a daycare would normally charge.


  • She should definitely take the bull by the horns and broach the subject of payment sooner rather than later, she’s half way there seeing the sister already offered.


  • The sister already offered, so an arrangement should be reached.


  • I get where she’s coming from but I’m sure her sister will be able to talk to her and come up with a fair arrangement if she’s already offered to pay her.


  • I think it’s fair that she be paid – and not at a token level either.


  • I think for that amount of care, the mum of the child should be offering some sort of financial help. It’s a big ask to have someone look after your child for that amount of time, and if I was in that position, its one of the first things I would have offered to the person looking after my child.


  • It’s indeed a very demanding agreement that would change completely the life of the sister. Personally I wouldn’t do it unless I was paid for that. She found a balance between work and family life by working from home. Having a small child will change a lot of the balance she has created. And no remuneration at all? Doing it once a week is one thing, having such a huge commitment is another.


  • Can be a tricky conversation, but honestly looking after your sisters children 5 days a week for 7 hours so sister can go back to her full time job, is different then an afternoon per week. I looked after the children of 3 friends for 1 afternoon after school for many years and even then 2 of my friends wanted to pay me in some kind of form, which I appreciated.


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