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!

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


  • Such a tricky situation!
    I guess even something like packing the kid’s food rather than having her sister feed the child would help. Also anything like if she knew her sister’s kid’s wanted something in particular that she couldn’t afford she could buy it for them etc. Just little gestures if her sister didn’t want to take the money offered to her. But definitely would be good for them to have a discussion in depth and lay it all out onto the table so there’s no conflict or hard feelings.


  • I would indeed in this situation


  • If she returns the favour in other ways then no payment needed. But otherwise she’s not paying for childcare and she’s working so should compensate financially.


  • I have never asked a family member for money when looking after their kids. You do it as a favor to help out in my opinion.


  • I think even if they weren’t paying for care as such they would offer something or a gift to say thank you


  • I have a friend who lives in between her two sons. Both boys have two kids. My friend spends most of her days looking after these kids (her grandkids) as all parents work. She’s on a disability pension and doesn’t get a cent from her kids for minding the kids. No money, no gifts, very rarely a thank you. She’s not happy about it, but won’t say no as she knows there’s no alternative, except for people to quit jobs they can’t afford to quit.
    My sister in law used to help out one of her kids when the children were young. They used to pay for her to go on a cruise every year as a thank you as well as a small weekly payment.
    People need to realise the worth of relatives who can mind the babies while they work as they are priceless gifts


  • I honestly don’t think I could ask family for money in a case of watching children I see it as something family would do for one another without expecting anything in return other than returning the favour perhaps


  • If it was babysitting on occasion then no money should exchange hands, but as this is a full time commitment, then you do need something in place!its costs a LOT of money to raise a child, food and nappies etc. If the baby gets sick it’ll be the sister using her petrol to drive to the drs, paying for the visit with the dr and even the medication if required. I’d say definitely work something out, even if the sister just leaves some money for emergencies, outings etc. there’s no way she should be out of pocket every expense!


  • 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.

    • A Grandparent looking after a grandchild is hardly being ‘palmed off’. Im on mat leave and my parents still want to look after my other kids! The person who makes those sort of comments sounds jealous honestly.


  • 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


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