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Mother's help looking after baby - good idea or not? interview tips?

(25 Posts)
motherpeculiar Mon 18-Jul-05 11:35:49

I'm going back to work part time in September. Will be working from home two days a week and currently looking for a "Mother's Help" to come into the house to look after my 5 mth old baby and do some light housework. I'm interested to hear whether this has been a successful arrangement for anyone else?

ALSO I need advice on interview questions etc. to put to any potential candidates. ANyone got any tips.

I've been in denial about this until now (don't want to return to work yet but finances dictate ) and so am in a bit of a rush to get it all sorted out (as I am on hols for a lot of August )

advice much appreciated!

motherpeculiar Mon 18-Jul-05 13:23:52


MissChief Mon 18-Jul-05 13:27:59

sorry no direct experience but might be worth checking out for advice & links. i'd wondered about mothers helps myself in past - when I contacted agencies though seemed v little choice as most want to be on books as nannies for better hrly rate- might it be easier to get one word of mouth or perhaps look into getting au pair?

Skribble Mon 18-Jul-05 13:32:44

Even though you will be at home you still want someone who is experienced enough to look after baby and not need to keep asking you things. If you advertise for a nanny though they won't really expect to do housework other than kids stuff. An experienced mothers help seems the way to go. Be very clear at interviews about what you want them to do and how much care/ housework is involved.

Listmaker Mon 18-Jul-05 13:41:03

My bf had a mother's help for his kids when they were little and it worked brilliantly I think. They were lucky to find her and she practically ran their household for them. So much so that once she stopped working the marriage started going off the rails as neither of them were really too good at organising the domestics of life and having 3 kids to look after!!!!

No idea what to ask at interviews - views on discipline, think up some scenarios and ask what she's do. Set clear boundaries of what you and she expect etc.

Jimjams Mon 18-Jul-05 18:38:54

Mine starts next week for the holidays. OUr family situation is a bit weird in that we have a severely autistic 6 year old, a 3 year old and a 6 month old baby. This person is a trainee speech and language therapist. used to be a nanny and has children hersefl (teenage) so ideal. The only difficult bit is the money side (its funded by Social services but confusing as she has to be careful not to mess up her tax)- apart from the admin its been easyish to sort out. I found her throough word of mouth. Am now tryng to get a couple more people on board for ad hoc working- not easy because of the tax situation again.

motherpeculiar Mon 18-Jul-05 19:06:11

thanks guys - I think if I am lucky enough to find the right person it should be a good arrangement. Have put the word about and put up a few ads locally and am going to run an ad in simply childcare (thanks to Seabird for that tip)

I'm not too good on setting boundaries sometimes but will try to be explicit up front as much as possible, wish me luck

hmm, you've set me wondering about how to pay and whether I need a contract of employment etc. Yikes - I don't think I have worked this through enough at all...

more tips - keep em coming, every word of advice valued!!!!

motherpeculiar Mon 18-Jul-05 20:28:37

anyone else?

uwila Mon 18-Jul-05 21:01:06

I think it depends on:
1- her experience (and I don't mean has a really cute cousin who she used to babysit on weekends) I mean proper nursery/day camp/au pair/etc.

2- Her personality. More specifically her willingness to work under you yet not come knocking on your door every ten minutes for detailed instructions.

It's a difficult one. I rate someone's experience and personality much higher than their "qualifications". But, then you have to also consider the possibility of you being called out of the house, and hence her having sole charge of an under 1.

PLEASE look at experience and personally check references. I have a stadard interview questionaire which I am more than happy to share. Cat me if you want it.

motherpeculiar Tue 19-Jul-05 09:08:30

I have cat'd you Uwila, thanks for the offer


motherpeculiar Tue 19-Jul-05 09:11:24

Uwila (or anyone else for that matter) - don't suppose you have a standard contract type thing up your sleeve? I guess I will need one of those if I don't want the person to walk out on me without notice (although I'm sure it is no guarantee).

One other thing - in this sort of arrangement do I need to worry about Tax NI etc?

sorry for all the questions, can you tell I'm not used to this?


elliott Tue 19-Jul-05 09:20:36

no advice really but interested to see what sort of employment arrangements other people have with this kind of situation. Looking myself to employ someone 6 hours a week and school holidays.

uwila Tue 19-Jul-05 09:46:26

yep, I have a contrct too. Gald to share. Can I also recommed you go pick up a copy of "The Good Nanny Guide" which you can get at Waterstones and also look at as they do a very nice job of outlining emplyer responsibilities.

And, yes, I'm afraid childcare in your home is an employee.

I'll go look for that CAt now and I'll send you a contract too.

MumsRCool Tue 19-Jul-05 10:05:48

I have a 9mths old DS and a nanny that comes in 4 days a week. I now work from home and found it a little weird having someone else in the home and looking after DS, but you do get used to it. My nanny was a recommendation and the types of questions that we asked in the intv were things like:

What type of activities are you going to do with baby
How do you calm a crying baby
What type of first aid qualifications do you have
Have you ever had to use your first aid quals
Reasons for leaving previous employments
Travel plans (you need to know so that they can fit in with yours)
What type of food will you be preparing for baby

You def need to do the tax thing as you may be liable for a fine and also if the nanny has no PAYE record then they will have difficulty applying for the simple things in life such as a credit card or a mortgage.


motherpeculiar Tue 19-Jul-05 13:25:27

thanks guys - am a bit surprised about the tax implications - is this because the person will be working in my home? I hadn't really thought of them as a "nanny" per se I guess, as I will always be around...

much more to learn methinks

thanks for sharing the docs Uwila, I really appreciate it

elliott Tue 19-Jul-05 14:41:02

I've just looked at a few of the nanny payroll sites and it seems that you only have to take on the tax/NI payments if they are paid more than £89 per week (presumably below this they don't need to pay tax and NI). But I'm not sure about whether you are still legally their employer at levels below this - will check it out with Inland Revenue I think.

jamboure Tue 19-Jul-05 14:57:10

I would so love a job like this.

Wish you were in my area (scotland)

MumsRCool Tue 19-Jul-05 15:10:25

MP if you're in the London area and are still looking for someone, do you want me to ask my nanny (who is amazing) if she knows anyone that is looking for work?

motherpeculiar Tue 19-Jul-05 19:16:11

MumsRCool that would be great thanks

Elliott - let me know if you find anything more out on that score. How are you planning to go about finding someone?

Jamboure - wish you were in my area too!

motherpeculiar Tue 19-Jul-05 19:17:40

elliott - could you let me know which sites you looked at . Thanks

elliott Wed 20-Jul-05 09:17:44

mp - looks the most informative of the nanny payroll companies.
I'm really only considering this because i stumbled on a potential person - a nursery nurse who recently left ds1's nursery. I'll be talking to her in more detail tonight, and today I'm going to try contacting the inland revenue (or at least researching their website) to see if I can get more info about the threshold for having to take on tax/ni responsibilities. My person wouldn't reach the personal tax threshold if she only works for me, but there would be weeks when she exceeded the NI threshold.

elliott Wed 20-Jul-05 11:54:57

OK I have just spoken to inland revenue.
If you pay someone less than £82 a week, you do not need to register with IR. If you pay between £82 and £94 per week, you need to register as an employer but do not need to pay any tax/NI. If you pay more than £94 a week, then you need to register and pay tax/NI. These limits apply to individual weeks, not the average pay over the tax year. so even if your employee doesn't earn enough to pay income tax over the year, if they hit the threshold in any particular week, you will have to deduct tax accordingly and it is their responsibility to claim it back.

motherpeculiar Wed 20-Jul-05 16:59:37

Thanks Elliott - that is really helpful. Sounds like you are getting your act together!

I have two people coming for interview tomorrow so it is good to know this in advance.

Good luck with yours.


motherpeculiar Thu 21-Jul-05 12:15:26

ok - I have seen two women this morning - both with experience and both with something to offer.

On a practical level they are both on Jobseeker's allowance and getting rent paid etc. They both think they can work up to 16 hours per week. If I pay £6ph for the 14 hours I need them that takes them to £84. Does anyone know if the fact that they are on benefits has implications for the tax/NI situation. According to Elliotts chat with the inland revenue they can be paid up to £94 before tax/ni is applicable but I don't know if this is different if they are on benefit...


elliott Mon 25-Jul-05 11:41:56

I don't know, but I don't think it will affect YOUR responsibilities. I would imagine it is up to them to find out if there are implications for their benefits. Why not phone up IR helpline (they don't take any details so you don't need to worry that you might flag up yours or their personal cases).

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