So, you hired that new babysitter and you scheduled your first night out. How do you prepare them for dealing with your hellions and your routines without coming off as a crazy helicopter parents? Here are my tips to ripping off that band aid and getting out there sans baby, or for those of you veteran parents here are some ways to acquaint a new sitter when your old one goes off to university, skips town or tells you that (s)he can't take it any more.
Low Stress Trial Run
I highly recommend having the first sitting session for a three hour (paid) period where you spend the first half hour or so going over routines and where things are and then using the opportunity to run errands or doing outdoor chores, or things you wouldn't normally do. This keeps you highly accessible for the first time the sitter is dealing with your kids.*
Lists are awesome, to a point. Keep them high level and brief. Where you can be contacted, poison control (this should be programmed in your phone anyway), insane allergies, bedtimes and a highlight of general routines, but nothing too crazy or detailed.**
Let Your Kids Know Who's Boss
Set the ground rules for your kids when it comes to television time, where they eat snacks and make sure your sitter (and children if they're old enough) know these rules. Let the sitter know your policy on punishment (i.e. time out vs. corporal punishment) For older kids, having a special treat available just for time with a sitter (i.e. popcorn as a snack, a new movie to watch or new craft activity) will make everyone's lives easier.
Don't Be Old Mother Hubbard
You are entrusting this person with your "precious" or "preciouses" so be considerate and kind. I try to make sure that we have non-alcoholic beverages and snacks available for our sitters. If you have a special box of cashews that you're saving for the anniversary of your Great Aunt Mary's first communion, put them somewhere else or clearly label them off limits.
Keep Calm & Carry On
Don't be a spaz and have realistic expectations. Just because a sitter doesn't do everything exactly the way you do it, doesn't mean they are a bad sitter. If they've had a rough shift the house may not be exactly as you left it, however if you want diapers disposed of somewhere else or dishes in the dishwasher, just remind them the next time they watch your kids.
Give them the Tools Required
Let the sitter know where the medical kit is, thermometer and whether or not you're comfortable with them giving your child advil if they are teething or whether or not you want them to connect with you first.
Let them do Their Job
I usually check in via text once during an outing to see how things are going or to let our sitter know when we're on our way home. If they aren't answering right away, don't sweat it, they're probably just looking after your kids. Don't linger when it's time to go out, the longer you stay, the tougher the adjustment will be for both you and your kids, trust me.***
Be Respectful of their Time
If you're going to be late, let your sitter know. I usually give ranges of when we're expecting to be home and try to stick to them.
Know Your Deal Breakers
Some times things don't work out. If your child isn't adjusting well to a sitter and screams the entire time you're gone after three or four sessions, maybe it's time to move on. If your child tells you things aren't going well, talk to them, and get them involved in making things better or finding a new sitter. If they dig into your liquor cabinet or take the front door off the hinges fire them.****
This is the fourth entry in a babysitter series:
To read a post about finding your ideal sitter or Mary Poppins click here
To read a post about where to find a babysitter click here
To read a post about interviewing a new sitter click here
Want Multiple Momstrosity updates on Facebook click here?
*i.e. you aren't leaving them marooned on baby island without a paddle.
**No one needs to be reading an encyclopedia when they should be watching your children.
***The last time we left the minions with our sitter A they freaked out and Molly started screaming. While we waited for the bus I received a comforting text about Miss Molly's crocodile tears, "the crying stopped the moment you shut that front door". Your kids will play you, it's kinda their job.
****Apparently a sitter once put us to bed at 6:30pm and then took my parents hall way door off its hinges, they still don't know why, but never asked her back.