I remember the times when my husband and I would make last minute plans to go out, and bam, we were out. Now it takes a lot more planning with the kiddos. Here’s a cheat sheet to make sure you have all your bases covered before getting out!
Getting a Baby-Sitter
One of the things you would suffer most with babies is that fact that your social life no more remains the same. While you will say no to most of the hangouts and gatherings, there will be some events where your presence is a must and you too need a break from your daily hectic routine. Baby Sitters in such a case are a blessing in disguise. Trusting babysitters in the first place will be challenging and though you will be physically present somewhere else, mentally you will be worrying about your child alone with the baby sitter. The solution is easy and very doable. Here are some of the ways you can prepare for the babysitter and have a relaxing time for youself.
- Plan ahead: It’s much easier to get a babysitter a month ahead of time than the day before – for obvious reasons. I keep a list of possible babysitters in the Family Planning notebook so that I’m not scrambling or trying to think of people at the eleventh hour (see a Printable for your babysitting list at the end of this post!).
- Consider your possibilities: Think of nearby friends and relatives that would make good babysitters. Ask your friends who have children and have had good babysitters if they can recommend. Consider coworkers and their children, and people you know from church or clubs. If you’re always on the lookout to add people to your list of possible babysitters, you won’t be stuck without one as often. (Of course, do your homework to make sure they’re trustworthy before leaving your children with them.)
- Join or create a babysitting coop: If you know a fair amount of people (3-6 couples) with children, ask them if they want to take turns babysitting. In a babysitting coop, the couples take turns watching all the kids. This means that when it’s your turn to be the sitter, you’ll be watching a lot of kids – but, on the plus side, you’ll have lots of nights with free babysitters!
- Interview the best: Even if you don’t want a baby sitter immediately, it’s better to shortlist the best ones and take their interview. This practice will help you know whom to call whenever you are in need. This interview can also be a paid, working interview where the potential baby sitter is helping you with chores and you can see them in action.
What to do Ahead of Time
- Get cash: A lot of people don’t use chequebooks anymore, and of course, baby-sitters can’t take credit cards. It’s easiest for everyone if you take cash out ahead of time and have it ready for your sitter.
- Write down all needed information: I’m always thinking of last minute details to tell the babysitter as I’m running out the door. Use the printable at the end of this post and keep it in your Family Notebook. It will come in handy!
- Keep an Envelope: maintain a “babysitter envelope” with anything a sitter might need – this may include copies of health insurance cards or extra cash (just in case)
- Plan Dinner: It’s common courtesy to provide dinner for whoever is watching your kids. For teenagers, I usually get pizza, and for adults, I’ll cook a meal. I also try to keep some snacks on hand in case they get hungry later.
- Make a plan for transportation and getting into and out of the house. You’ll want to leave car seats (even if it’s just for an emergency), and a plan for the sitter to lock the house behind him or her, yet be able to get back in. If the sitter plans to go somewhere, also leave a fully packed diaper bag and a stroller.
- Call them early: Don’t assume that the baby sitter will come 5 minutes before you are leaving and handle everything. Most parents do this and end up discomforting both baby sitter and the child. Call them early and give them a tour of the house. Make them familiar with the place, show them the no-go-areas and make them aware of the house security system.
- Prepare your child: If this is your first time, sit with your child and prepare them to get settled with a stranger. Talk to them about the baby sitter so that their name is not new anymore. This will help your child cooperate with the baby sitter and listen to them willingly. Also, be sure to have any homemade child care products available so they are easily within reach when they are needed.
- Don’t be over strict: just the way you are out to have some fun, allow your kids to have some fun with the baby sitter as well. Of course, following the routine is important but let your kids play some extra or one weekend, camp on the couch or dance in the rain if they are being watched. This helps the kids get friendly with the baby sitter easily and you will have no guilt, knowing your kids are safe and enjoying.
As always, I included Microsoft Office versions of these documents if you want to make modifications. Don’t forget to keep these in your Family Notebook! I would recommend printing out plenty of them so you’ll have them on hand when you need them.
- List of Baby-Sitters and Phone Numbers in Excel: Baby-Sitters List
- List of Baby-Sitters and Phone Numbers in PDF: Baby-Sitters List
- Important Information for Baby-Sitters in Excel: Important Information for Baby-Sitters
- Important Information for Baby-Sitters in PDF: Important Information for Baby-Sitters
- Important Phone Numbers in Excel: Important Phone Numbers
- Important Phone Numbers in PDF: Important Phone Numbers
Many parents have guilt when it comes to taking help from babysitters. Parenting is rewarding, overwhelming but also very stressful, both physically and mentally. Therefore both parents need to take a break from their routine and refresh their minds so that they don’t find parenting chores challenging. And remember, it’s okay to have a baby sitter take care of your child for some time.