Being a good babysitter starts with being prepared. While the babysitter themselves is responsible for some of the preparation, there are several important steps parents can take to set the babysitter up for success. Experts from Charlie’s House have outlined a few topic areas you should go over with each babysitter you hire.
Unless the babysitter has watched your children before, you should always go over the house rules you practice in your home. This way your children’s experience isn’t anything different from when you are away.
Can the children have friends over while the parents are away?
Is the babysitter allowed to take the children to a different location (movie, park, store, etc.)?
Is it OK to play outside?
Are there rules for screentime? If allowed, how long can they watch TV/use tablets?
How to get a hold of you
Whatever you have planned for your night, make sure you keep your babysitter in the loop. Let them know where you’re going or what you might be doing. This way if they need to get a hold of you, they know ahead of time. Explain they may not have immediate access to your phone. Before leaving make sure you and the babysitter have the following important contacts.
Both parents’ phone numbers
The babysitters’ phone number
A nearby back-up adult (family, friend or neighbor)
Routines can be difficult to set in the first place, so making sure your child’s routine isn’t altered or disrupted while a babysitter is around is important. Outline these routines for your sitter to refer to while you are away.
Bedtime / night routine:
If the shift is during the day, inform them on nap schedules.
If you feel comfortable, relay bath or shower schedules.
Share where toothbrushes and toothpaste are located for brushing teeth.
Outline if each child has a different bedtime.
Let the sitter know if you allow quiet time or books before lights out.
Mealtime / snacks:
Is your child still bottle fed? Leave a post it with instructions on when to give each bottle, how much to provide and how to prepare the bottle.
Outline what snacks kids can and can’t have.
Leave behind meal ideas and meal restrictions. A child won’t tell you what they need for dinner, but rather what they want for dinner- which might not always be the healthiest option.
When your child starts to express interest in becoming a babysitter, there’s an important milestone they need to reach first: your child needs to be able to stay home alone. Although there isn’t a set age on when this should take place, around 10 – 11 years old is appropriate to start exercising staying home alone. Start with small increments of time, and gradually increase how long they can stay by themselves.
You know your child best, and once you are confident in their ability to care for themselves while home alone, allow them to start watching their siblings or nearby family. Once you agree your child is ready, have your beginning babysitter start with families they know such as friends or neighbors. As they book more babysitting jobs, allow them to extend each job by a few hours.
Charlie’s House is a great resource for parents and babysitters. Their mission is to prevent accidents and injures to children in and around the home.Information, resources and babysitter home safety courses are available at the Charlie’s House safety demonstration house, located at 2425 Campbell St., Kansas City, MO 64108. Schedule a tour or a class at charlieshouse.org, or request further information via email at email@example.com.