There are so many ways to be a caregiver for children. If you’re just entering the industry or even looking to change up the services you currently offer, you might be wondering about your options. For parents who are looking for caregiving beyond babysitters, two of the most popular options are nannies and mother’s helpers. But many people get these two titles confused. To help you figure out which option best aligns with your career goals, here’s a breakdown of the differences between a full-charge nanny and a mother’s helper, along with the benefits of each.

A mother’s helper is there to do exactly what their title implies: they help parents. The biggest difference between a nanny and a mother’s helper is that a mother’s helper does not have sole responsibility for the children for long stretches of time. So that means the majority of their working hours take place while a parent is at home.

Mother’s helpers work with all kinds of families, but they are especially sought after by families who have multiples, parents who work from home or stay at home, and families with babies and small children. They assist with all manners of childcare duties, but they may also assist parents with everything from light housekeeping to shopping, running errands, meal prepping, and cooking. A mother’s helper may watch the children solo for short periods of time, such as while a parent is running an errand or going to an appointment, but their day-to-day duties don’t usually include extended hours as the sole caregiver. A schedule for this title most commonly consists of either part-time or flexible hours. Mother’s helpers may also have less experience than a nanny, though most still have significant experience caring for children.

Being a full-charge nanny, on the other hand, means having full responsibility for the children, usually while their parents are outside of the home for extended periods of time. Nannies are typically experienced full-time or part-time employees. It is common for them to receive employment benefits and to have extensive training and education. They may travel with families or be responsible for planning activities for the children. And while a nanny may also be tasked with additional responsibilities like cooking, shopping, or light housekeeping, their main responsibility is tending to the needs of the children.

So how can you tell which option is right for you? They both offer ways to gain valuable experience in caregiving. Ultimately, what will help you determine which option is best for you is to consider what you value about your work environment and how you want your day-to-day employment to look.

You might decide to pursue a role as a mother’s helper if you’re looking to gain more experience in the childcare industry but aren’t necessarily desiring a role that gives you full charge. If you’re someone who enjoys collaborative work, then being a mother’s helper can provide you with the opportunity to gain valuable skills as a caregiver while still affording you the ability to work as part of a team. A mother’s helper position could also be the ideal fit if you are seeking part-time hours or a more flexible schedule. And the skills you gain as a mother’s helper can be applied to several caregiver roles, so there is plenty of room for advancement into other childcare endeavors you may want to pursue.

Those who are looking for more independence in their job, who have more experience, or who are looking for something that more closely resembles traditional employment in terms of salary, benefits, and schedule may be better suited for a role as a full-charge nanny. While there is still flexibility and room for every level of experience in nannying, it is a career that generally requires more commitment, expertise, and the ability to work well on your own. If you have significant training and education, being a full-charge nanny offers you the opportunity to put those skills to work and expand on them.

Ultimately, mother’s helpers and full-charge nannies are both valued immensely by the families for whom they work. The details of their jobs may differ, but they share the common goal of providing passion-driven care and adding value to the families’ lives.