I was recently in a theater with friends, just moments before the start of a show I’d long anticipated seeing, when that voice familiar to any parent started nagging in the back of my head. Did I remember to give the new babysitter a back-up contact while my phone was silenced during the show and my husband was three times zones away on business? Did I remind her to lock the back door? No one wants to interrupt much deserved time away with worry over communication with the babysitter. I know the importance of clearly communicating with childcare providers, and could have easily saved myself the distraction if I’d left a checklist with instructions for my sitter.
To save you similar worry, here’s a handy, printable checklist (https://blog.urbansitter.com/babysitter-checklist/) that you can fill out and leave with your sitters. You can also make one of your own with helpful information that you intend to share with your sitter, but sometimes forget in your haste to get out the door. Be sure to include the following info for a worry-free night away:
Contact Information and Instructions
There are the obvious numbers to include—your and your spouse’s mobile and work numbers—but it’s also wise to share contact info for a helpful neighbor or nearby family member, as well as emergency contacts (who to call if you are unavailable, including a chain of command). Include your home address, kids’ birthdays, and insurance information a sitter may need for a 911 call.
Another smart addition—let your sitter know if you expect her to touch base while you’re away or if you prefer to be contacted only if necessary. Specify whether you’d like a text or a phone call.
Daily Routines & Schedule
Rather than hoping for the best while the kids are in her hands, outline their schedule, including nap times and any meals or snacks they should eat while you’re away. Provide food that your children are accustomed to eating to avoid a battle of wills, and don’t expect the sitter to spend her time preparing time-consuming meals. If you have an infant, provide clear instructions for making bottles (how many ounces, how often, how is the bottle prepared). Also provide nap or quiet time routines, and suggest activities or play dates your child enjoys.
Make your sitter your wing-man by sharing the rules you keep for a safe and sane home. Let her know your child’s screen time limits, whether or not you allow sugary snacks, guidelines for playing outside or venturing away from home, and any special rules that apply to family pets (is the dog allowed on the sofa, for example). It’s also smart to include your rules on her phone and social media use, for instance asking her not to provide location information or post photos of your children.
Allergies, Sensitivities, Special Instructions
Cover all bases by providing information on any allergies or sensitivities your kids’ may have so that your sitter doesn’t unknowingly expose them. Include foods to avoid and instructions to follow in case of accidental exposure, such as giving an antihistamine or epinephrine, and calling 911 in the case of a severe reaction.
Helpful & Handy Tips
Here’s how you keep your sitter happy and willing to return. Provide helpful and thoughtful info, such as your Wi-Fi password, and suggestions for comforting your toddler if he’s prone to tearful goodbyes or getting him to go to bed without fuss. Encourage her to help herself to snacks or other goodies you’ve stocked just for her.
While it may sound like a lot to jot down for your sitter, you can provide all of this info and any other that is uniquely helpful to your family in a handy leave-behind checklist and know that you’ve covered all bases. You’ll help your sitter do her best by making sure she has what she needs to succeed, and free yourself for time away without worry. Talk about time well spent!