An on-demand mother's helper/babysitter in the Cambridge/Somerville area
August 16, 2014 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend a part-time mother's helper that can get to North Cambridge? We want extra support for a week in taking care of this guy. The mom will be at home, and we want to reduce the chances that she gets overwhelmed, starting this Wednesday, after his grandma goes home, and I go back to work.
posted by ignignokt to Human Relations (11 answers total)
Can you explain more of what you mean by "on demand"? I have two young kids, and finding quality childcare is very difficult. Most providers strongly prefer full-time work, or if not full time then some kind of guaranteed schedule. If you're looking for someone who you can call to come over on an hour's notice, that's a hard arrangement to get. Not saying someone on this site won't have the perfect referral for you, but you might want to look at other avenues. I assume you've worked any local neighborhood contacts for high school kids who aren't yet back at school (they could do stuff like hold the baby while mom showers or naps), or retired/part-time employed women? Failing that, Sitter City and are other options.

Personally, I'm not in your area, but I've tried all of the above looking for sitters and I had the best luck registering with a well-regarded local nanny agency. The agency books various types of nannies, including for short-term jobs like date-night babysitting. Given three days notice they guarantee placement, and we have the ability to request nannies that we have liked from past jobs. We pay an annual fee and then a per-booking charge. It's more expensive but it takes away the hassle of sourcing sitters and the agency is responsible for a replacement if someone cancels last minute.

I'm on baby #2 and I know the panicky feeling of the thought of being all alone with the baby for the whole day. I wish your wife the best. My experience is that things are much easier than I had anticipated and that, as my mom says, "it's easier without an audience." I hope the week goes well!
posted by handful of rain at 9:04 AM on August 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

What you're looking for is called a "postpartum doula". I'm not in your area so I don't have any specific recommendations, but hopefully having the right words will help you in your search.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2014

Try posting on the Somerville Mom's list (yahoo group). There's Parents in a Pinch as well, which is very expensive but reliable. Second the postpartum doula recommendation for the early weeks.
posted by chocotaco at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Hey, thanks for the answers — postpartum doula sounds right. I'll start with!

What I mean by "on-demand" is that we would like someone by this upcoming Wednesday, which is pretty soon.
posted by ignignokt at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2014

You really don't need anything as fancy as a post-partum doula! Just find a babysitter with infant experience on your local parents' list serve - plenty of college students or recent grads will be looking for babysitting hours. Schedule her to come 2 or 3x/week for 2-3 hours at a time instead of "on demand." Most babysitters won't be able to work without some sort of schedule, and it will probably be nicer for your wife to know exactly when she'll get some help. She can also plan to have a bottle pumped by then if you're exclusively breast feeding.

I did exactly this starting at 3 weeks, and it was great! The first day the babysitter stayed for an hour while I worked up the courage to leave the house for 20 minutes. I slowly worked up to spending 1.5 hours out at the gym and coffee. It was great to have that little break, and just to have another adult to talk with during leave.
posted by yarly at 10:20 AM on August 16, 2014

Oh, on seeing your update - yes, you probably can find somebody to come starting on Weds. I have actually had great luck finding sitters on, but parents' lists are great too because they come with recommendations.
posted by yarly at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2014

I agree with asking on the somerville moms group. I'm happy to post for you, I know signing up is a PITA. Also, if you need help Friday and you're comfortable with it, I can come by.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:40 AM on August 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

I agree the postpartum doula, while awesome, might be beyond your needs. If your wife's recovery and the baby's first weeks have been smooth and uncomplicated then you probably want more of the "mothers helper" (as you termed it) who could come and provide some directed support. It would probably be less expensive than going the doula route, although the doula is likely well worth the price.
posted by handful of rain at 12:31 PM on August 16, 2014

Generally, in the immediate postpartum period, the kind of help the new mother wants is not so much babysitting, but more help around the house and with errands, so that the mother can hold and feed and bond with the baby. Of course, she will probably want some breaks, but usually the best help is not direct baby help. But finding someone with knowledge of and experience with newborns and feeding (whether by breast or bottle, or both) will be more helpful and necessary than, say, a local teen or college student. A postpartum doula will understand this and understand that she'll be more called on to do laundry, clean up the kitchen, run to the store, and cook some light meals rather than getting the distinct wonderful excitement of holding a brand-new, teeny baby. Also, it's great to get someone with this kind of experience that may be also good at observing any problems, such as postpartum depression, which can be very common.
posted by primate moon at 1:23 PM on August 16, 2014

With respect, most people who are open to being mother's helpers understand the job to be a housekeeping/errands plus baby-help-if-needed job. Otherwise it would be babysitting. It does require sensitivity to a new mother's needs, so I wouldn't ask a teenager to do it, but an experienced caregiver should be fine.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:40 PM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Hey, we posted an ad on for a "careful, attentive, post-partum babysitter" and was able to a hire a former labor and delivery nurse who's been nannying for newborns for a few days. Thanks, everyone!
posted by ignignokt at 1:56 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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