Whether you’re leaving the kids with a sitter for the umpteenth time or you’re about to hand over your new bundle of joy to his first-ever babysitter, there are a few details you might forget to share before you leave the house. Take the time to add these things to your list of things to tell the sitter before you head out on your much-deserved time away.
1. What your child expects from bedtime
There’s a lot more to your child’s bedtime routine than the time he goes to bed and the book he prefers to read before turning in. Help your sitter navigate bedtime and improve the odds of your child getting a good night’s sleep by filling the sitter in on the details.
Does she need to pull the shade or drapes? Lights on or off – or somewhere in between? Do you use a night light? Should the door be open or closed? Do you typically leave the hall or bathroom light on? How about covers – is the duvet turned down or pulled up? And don’t forget to let her know about any special doll or toy that your little one can’t sleep without. You may fear sounding like a neurotic mother, but these little details could make all the difference in how easily she gets the kids to bed…and whether or not tears are involved.
2. How to safely take your child on an outing
It may seem obvious to you, but don’t assume the sitter knows how to install your car seat, strap on a baby carrier, unfold your portable stroller or knows that she needs to put a helmet on your tot before he rides his scooter to the park. Take the time to show her how everything works – let her give it a go while you’re still there to answer questions. Be sure that she knows where to find what she needs, including diaper bags, spare blankets, sunscreen, water bottles and even your child’s jacket.
3. Where to find the first aid kit
You likely remembered to leave your sitter emergency contact numbers and maybe even a copy of your family’s emergency evacuation plan. If not, see our post on Preparing Your Sitter for an Emergency and download a free printable that makes it easy to leave all the pertinent information a sitter may need while you’re away. Don’t forget to also leave her a handy first aid kit to deal with any minor mishaps that may happen on her watch. Make sure your kit includes band-aids, Benadryl (with clear instructions about when and how much to give), antibiotic cream and an ice pack for bumps and bruises.
4. The 4-1-1 on your pets
Your sitter is there to watch the kids, but if pets are part of your family she’ll need to know what to expect from them, too. Let her know how much contact your kids and their pet have. For instance, do you allow your dog to cuddle with the baby and is it ok for your tot to chase the dog? Does your pet need to be let out and fed (and what to do if there’s a potty accident)? Do you absolutely forbid your puppy from eating people food scraps and should your new sitter expect some playful nips? Also let her know where your pets are allowed in the house. Is the nursery off limits? Is the cat permitted to scoot outside when she and the kids do?
5. The location of a spare key.
It happens. The sitter, just like you, ducks out of the house as the locked door slams behind her leaving her (with or without the kids) locked out of the house. Save her the panic and yourself from having to run home to let her into the house by leaving a spare key with a neighbor or in a safe, hidden spot. Some families prefer their regular sitter keeps a spare key to their house on her own key ring.
Giving your sitter this extra info could save her and your family from more than a few unpleasant situations. She’ll appreciate the details and be more confident in her ability to take care of the kids and hold down the fort while you’re away.