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!


  • 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.


  • I like to think that families help each other and if she’s not a registered care provider she shouldn’t charge. That being said she should also be able to have a day off whenever she likes and the sister will need to deal with that and also be available for free babysitting if the other Lady has kids


  • Time for a good and honest chat ! Sometimes we create such situations ourselves when we say yes to helping and get scooped more and more on our plate, and then it may be hard to undo it. But in the end of the day if this mum would be payed that what her sister would have to pay in child care, she would earn a significant amount of money over time. Considering the sister is now pregnant and wants to put more responsibility on her plate I do think a payment would be appropriate.


  • I’d ask for something if she is off making money. Depends if she supplies all the food and nappies and supplies to but as the child gets old they are going to want to go out and about too. It all adds up. Plus time is money these days


  • It’s a hard topic. One they should speak about together and decide


  • If I was the sister asking to have my child minded, I would most definitely pay if it was full time, if she wouldn’t let me then I would go about it in other ways to pay her (buy groceries, pay a bill, buy spa vouchers ect)


  • Sounds like its about time a round table discussion was held about how, when, where, and what value should be placed upon this relationship. As I was a single mum my children were in care with friends/family at various stages and this was all worked out ahead of time – so much per hour because it was a job and enabled me to ear money. Sit down and talk it out – everyone will be reasonable and if they aren’t don’t offer to do it in the first place. Your time is as valuable as your sisters, and she may be stopping you from going and getting a job in the workforce as well.


  • I wouldn’t charge but it all depends on the situation…


  • I wouldn’t ask for money if I was helping family, but thats just me


  • If it was a permanent arrangement then maybe money to cover food costs but every now and then maybe not. Such a tricky thing. What happens when she is feeling sick herself then she is not going to want to look after another child.


  • Hmmm, this is so tricky


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