Leaving your baby – whether for a full work day, or just a few hours – can be difficult. Between the inevitable mom guilt, checklists and timetables, the process is enough to throw our hands up in the air and vow to stay at home forever. Yet at some point, every mom must leave their sweet baby in the capable hands of a family member, friend or professional. And in an effort to take the guesswork out of the process, I’ve compiled a list of tips, tricks and handy guidelines for entrusting your baby to someone else. Behold, The Ultimate Babysitter’s Guide!:
When choosing a care provider for your baby, set up an initial interview to inquire about experience, desired rate and references. It’s always a good idea to hold an interview sans children so you can (a) focus on the interview itself, and (b) avoid necessary introductions to your family if you sense this particular babysitter might not be a great fit.
The Home Tour
Once you’ve checked references, invite the babysitter to your home for a tour and brief introduction to your family. Familiarize the sitter with the surroundings of your home, including miscellaneous instructions like operating the television and oven, or where you store take-out menus. This is a great time to allow for interaction between your baby and his/her care provider.
Unlike the home tour, an orientation is focused specifically on the baby’s interests and favorite activities. Walk your care provider through any fears (i.e. dogs, loud noises, etc.) or special attachments (i.e. stuffed animal, blanket, etc.) your baby might have to avoid unnecessary tears or miscommunications.
Be sure to prep your babysitter on a typical routine for your baby. A routine, rather than a schedule, offers wiggles room so your care provider isn’t worried about meeting strict deadlines while watching your child. Familiarize the sitter with the order in which you navigate your day (i.e. naptime, then snack, then activity, then bath, then bedtime).
Before you leave your baby with his/her care provider, draft a checklist of necessary items including the child’s birthdate, insurance info, emergency contact, your contact info, allergies and medications. I’ve posted a sample checklist for your reference right here.
It’s always a good idea to manage any expectations to avoid miscommunications. Discuss what you will expect from your babysitter and offer guidelines for those expectations. (Are you comfortable with a friend coming over after your baby is asleep? Do you expect any additional work from your sitter, i.e. dishes/laundry?) At the same time, allow your babysitter the opportunity to communicate her expectations, i.e. you arriving home on time.
Babysitters are in high demand, and the better they’re treated, the happier they’ll be (and then share that happiness with your baby!). Take an extra step to find out things he/she likes and express your gratitude accordingly. A little extra thought goes a long way in making a babysitter feel comfortable and cared for.
The Guilt (Maybe).
At times, prepare yourself for a bit of guilt. Whether you’re nervous about being away from your baby, or you feel your baby is connecting with a care provider more than you, allow yourself the time to process those emotions. And remember: there is no replacement for a baby’s mother, even if you don’t get to spend as much time with your baby as you’d like. In your baby’s eyes, you’re #1!