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!



  • I would be happy knowing that if I wanted a day off, holiday etc that there was another option of childcare for the child, and yeah, money for food etc.


  • It goes both ways, I would like to think the working sister would either offer compensation or have something else to offer the other one to help out… family is family,


  • There’s a difference between helping out and being used. I’d say no, sister or not, You jabe your own family & work life balance.


  • If I had them full time then a discussion should happen as it restricts your day and freedom


  • She should be putting her children into daycare if she is not at home to look after them. Her sister already has her own work in addition to looking after her own children, that is just plain selfish.


  • This is totally unreasonable and shouldn’t even be put on someone. You have children to parent them, not to palm them off to other family members. Part of parenting is to actually take responsibility for their care… and the better solution would be child care or a formal arrangement with family that suits the people taking care of the child.


  • In all honesty unless she’s actually running a daycare business she’s family and family should help each other. That said the sister in return should be willing to return the favour by offering free babysitting anytime the other sister wants and should also sacrifice her own leave if the sister wants have time off and also look after the other sisters kids as well as her own if that is what’s wanted.


  • The Mother of the child should at least supply what is needed for the child. Especially nappies and wipes if needed and some food. I know a couple who used to mind their grandchildren (they are now at school). They charged a small amount for caring for the children which included snacks and the Mum claimed an allowance from a Govt. Dept. I think it was Centrelink. The Mum had to provide receipts for the amount she paid. It is a huge responsiblity minding another person’s child full time every working day. Some find it quite tiring too.


  • You should definitely accept some compensation. Looking after your own children, getting your own work done and looking after your sisters’ baby is a lot to put on yourself. Why not find out how much it would cost to put her child into daycare so you both have an idea of how much it would cost.


  • Yep reasonable to ask for something.


  • 7 hours of care a day is a lot. Yes I think it’s reasonable to receive payment for that.


  • Such an interesting issue. I don’t know what I would do…


  • What a tricky situation. I imagine it would be incredibly draining looking after your own children as well as someone else’s. I think they need to have a sit down and a proper conversation


  • We can assume that the child minding sister won’t be out of pocket as, one would hope, her sister will provide breast milk/formula, nappies, clothing, baby food etc. pram and car seat. However, it is your time you are giving up and it is fair to want a bit of compensation. There’s nothing wrong with working something out between you and your sister to make sure you both benefit. I’m sure it was from a place of love that you originally offered to take the baby, but getting some money in return doesn’t tarnish that.


  • She could always offer to have the baby a couple of days a week and highlight the socialising benefits of proper childcare for the other days?


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