January 8, 2020


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!

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


  • There definitely needs to be an agreement put in place. I’ve seen so many mothers palm their children off to family members to look after, without any payment, while they go back to work. In a lot of cases these carers are grandparents who soon become frustrated and resentful at being used and tied down.


  • If you are happy to look after her children every day then you need to set out a payment plan that suits you both. If she is going back to work and you weren’t available then she would need to pay for daycare. Work out a weekly amount that suits you both but also state what this entails and that you will be taking breaks but will give her plenty of time to make other arrangements. I unfortunately did this for my sister in law and she took full advantage of me. Said that she would pay me for my time but never did. I decided I’d never do that again.


  • She could explain to her sister I did my years of loving and serving you and your kids but i no longer can and want to do this anymore ? because 1. It is tiring and I’m not able to give my own children one-on-one attention 2. I’m not able focus on my part time job from home. 3.The care for all these kids is costly.
    It sounds business like, but sometimes you have to.


  • I don’t think you can expect a payment. But certainly she should ensure it doesn’t cost her anything by having everything provided.


  • I think it would be nice if she supplied snacks etc for the children and maybe bought you a bunch of flowers to show appreciation. Personally I wouldn’t want money for minding my nieces or nephews even if it does help to benefit her financially. Family is family.


  • For that amount of time Monday to Friday I would be charging but at a small rate compared to child care


  • 100% , but I wouldn’t do it for anyone who just expected me to do it for free anyway, doesn’t matter who it is


  • It would be something that has to be discussed between the two of them


  • I wouldn’t expect to be paid for doing it, but money for food would be appreciated


  • If you are going to offer to look after someone’s children then you shouldn’t ask to be paid! IN saying that I am sure the sister would appreciate and contribute somehow


  • I think it will be nice to pay your sister if she’s helping you out


  • Great! Good to know her sister isn’t expecting any free labor! Obviously 7 hours a day is HEAPS (I’m a teacher! Trust me I know!) definitely wouldn’t be fair on herself and in these kinds of situations you run the risk of having a fall out. Assuming she doesn’t accept the money, this may stress her out in the future with the load of looking after more children and as a result cause a rift between siblings! You wouldn’t want that!!


  • They need to sit down and have a really good chat. Money should be offered, even if it is only to cover food and outings, etc. I don’t feel it is fair that one can go out earning money while the other does the baby/child sitting for no return/benefit.


  • I believe this is a fair call,they need to sit down and come to agreement that suits both of them.


  • Yes, I think there should be recognition of the impact on this mum.


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