Traveling with a Mother's Helper-4 Tips to Get You on Your Way

Someone to entertain the children in the car? An extra set of hands to feed everyone in the morning and get them ready for bed at night? A trustworthy person who understands that vacation stress can be worse than home stress and lets you walk away from it all for 5 minutes, or an hour, or an afternoon without feeling guilty?  We tried it out on our recent trip to Idaho, and may have ruined solo family travel forever!

family travel, mother's helper

Think it might be nice to take a mother's helper along on your next vacation?  Here are some tips to consider...

Who Should I Take?
I have been patiently waiting many years for my niece and nephew to be old enough to travel with me.  In part, it excites me to be able to introduce new places and experiences to them, but also, they are people my kids know and are comfortable with.  Taking Grandma and my oldest niece proved to be quite useful on our Idaho vacation. 

Tip #1: 
Look around you for people you and your kids already know: cousins, nieces, nephews, Grandma. 
 They are already familiar with how you parent and how your kids behave.  

No one close to you?  Ask friends, spread the word at church or in your playgroup that you're looking to take a mother's helper on your next excursion.  Explore options for advertising and interviewing local college students. Or, consider hiring someone through reputable services online like and Urban Sitters

What Accommodations Will I Need?
At the bare minimum, planning to take a mother's helper will mean including one extra body at each place you stay.  On our recent trip, with both my niece and my mother along to help, this meant making sure they each had their own bed to sleep. The two of them could have shared a bed, but it was nice for them to have their own space to stretch and relax in at the end of the day.  We were able to make that work by booking hotel suites with pull-out sofas.

Tip #2:
Take into consideration how well you know the person traveling with you, 
and how much privacy each of you may need.

Vacation rentals come in all shapes and sizes.  A hotel room with a pull-out sofa may be enough for you.  For a little more privacy, with minimal additional cost, book a multi-room suite.  Booking two separate hotel rooms opens up many possibilities; let your mother's helper have the second room and nights off completely, or send the kid's with your helper to the second room and enjoy your own rest and relaxation.  Staying in a cabin, or condo, or RV (with a tent outside) will allow similar considerations.

What Are My Expectations?
This may be the most important thing to consider.  On our trip I knew I needed someone to help entertain the kids for 15 hours in the car.  We were going on amusement park rides and water slides, so I needed someone to help watch smaller kids while I went to play with bigger kids.  The added bonus was having extra hands to get pj's on and take shifts at the breakfast bar, or run for food and extra diapers.

Tip #3:
Be upfront about the responsibilities you are handing over to your mother's helper.

There will be nothing more awkward than fighting frustration for days, finally confronting your helper, and finding out they had no idea what they were supposed to be doing.  Does she need to be 100% focused on the baby?  Is her role to make sure the kids are safe while Mom and Dad are swimming in the pool?  Explain whether or not you just need an extra set of eyes and ears, or that you expect her to be in charge of the children.  Will your mother's helper have time to spend on her own, or will she be expected to stay with the family during the entire vacation?  Starting the trip with clear expectations will guarantee much less confusion when the whole family is on the road.

How Will I Be Giving Compensation?
Taking a mother's helper on vacation does not have to mean writing out a paycheck when you get back home.  I presented our Idaho vacation to my niece and my mom as an (almost) free vacation for them.  Their hotels were free, their amusement park and water park tickets were free.  We shared the expense of meals, sometimes buying together and sometimes paying separately. It was a trade-off that worked out perfectly.

Tip #4:
Present the opportunity as a package full of benefits. Then, pay if necessary.

I am not suggesting that mother's helpers do not need to be paid.  But before dismissing the option of taking one, consider how the opportunity might be appealing, even without monetary compensation. It is a chance to go somewhere new and exciting.  Explain if you will be covering admission for the activities.  If some, or all. meals will be taken care of, make sure they know that, too. If it does come down to setting a pay rate, discuss whether or not it will be by the hour or by the day, and what expenses they will be paying on the way.

 Can you see a mother's helper being useful on your next vacation?

Read more about trip to 
Triple Play and Silverwood in Idaho