How amazing it would be if all your responsibilities went on hold when you went out of town. From Pets to plants, letters to courier parcels, imagine everything is in control and in the right condition as you left them. As a frequent traveller, I have become very consistent with my house sitter system and highly suggest all of you to develop one with my below tips and guidelines.
Finding a House Sitter
Most people are very willing to house sit – it’s a change of pace for them. It’s usually not very difficult or time-consuming, and they get paid. This is especially true for older teenagers and young adults. If you ask around and still have trouble finding a house sitter, there are websites to find one such as www.housecarers.com, www.trustedhousesitters.com, www.care.com, and www.housesittersamerica.com.
I would use one of these before finding someone on Craigslist or a friend of a friend of a friend.
Preparing for Your House Sitter
It’s wise to prepare the house for the person caring for it. You don’t want to keep calling them for instructions and check if they are doing the job right. Follow the below tips to be well-prepared and have a relaxed travel time.
Always think of your sitter as someone new who knows less or perhaps nothing about your locality, country or town. Be sure to give them every little instruction you can. From maps to routes, nearest landmarks and weather conditions, they should be told about every possible thing.
Keep your house clean and comfortable
Most people think the sitter who is yet to come will clean the house; therefore they keep it in the messiest condition. Well, not only does this give a bad impression but also a chance that the sitter won’t ever offer their services again. Whether your trip is of a shorter time period or longer duration, make sure your place is comfortable and clean. I always make sure the bed sheets are changed, the towels are washed and extra ones kept in the storeroom and the kitchen cabinets have everything labelled and in place.
Remember, if you keep the house untidy, you will find it untidy upon your return as well.
Make it special
Since the sitter is the one who will take care of your house for the next few days, there is no harm in making the place a little special for them. It’s always a nice gesture to welcome them with flowers or a home-cooked meal or a dessert that will make the place feel like home to them.
Always try to adjust the arrival time of your sitter with your timings and ensure to be present when they arrive. This will not only be welcoming but also the right time for you to give a house tour and handover them the place.
Explain your routine
Once your sitter has settled in, give them a rundown to your house routine. Show them the necessary areas that will require regular attention. If there are some important mails and parcels expected to come, notify them. Tell them about the laundry, garbage and other maintenance routines so that they don’t call you every now and then. Additionally, it will be helpful to tell them how to use the appliances at home, when to use the car in case of an emergency and when to restock the grocery items etc.
Introduce your pets
If you have pets at home, help them become friendly with the sitter. This may require you all to spend some time together; allowing both the sitter and pet to be comfortable with each other. If your pet has some specific requirements; such as their bathing, playing, walking and eating habits, make sure you not only share those with the sitter verbally but also script them on a paper and paste it somewhere visible. Also, give them details of the vet so that they know whom to contact if your pet isn’t well.
Tips on Introducing Your Pet to Your House Sitter
Does your fur baby bark in fear when new people visit your home? It is an extreme challenge for pet owners to deal with a pet having anxiety when meeting new people at home. While you want to ensure your pet is comfortable, you don’t want their nervous tendencies to hinder meeting new people, especially your house sitter. Let your pets feel that new people are friends they have not met. This way, you may always feel relaxed leaving your fur babies at home. Here are some basic tips for introducing your pet to your house sitter.
Keep the first meeting short
The first meeting should be short, especially if you have an anxious or excited dog. If you feel your dog is becoming aggressive or restless, go slow. Your fur baby should be still on the leash while letting you under control. Putting your pet on a leash during the first visit will give you authority over how your fur baby reacts to a stranger. Let your house sitter and pet meet a couple of days before having your trip to set a friendly atmosphere for both. You must set a good example no matter how concerned your dog is. Stay calm, don’t shout orders, and offer encouraging support. Further, if you see your pet reacting negatively, setting the meeting on the next schedule is better. It is important not to force your pet during the first meeting.
Give your pet a little space to settle
It is better to confine your pet to another room until everyone settles down. That doesn’t mean your house sitter and your pet have to stay away for the entire time they’re visiting, but that time is what your pet needs to calm down and return to the situation with a different energy. Once settled, monitor your pet’s interactions to ensure mutual friendly greetings. Keep an eye on your fur baby. Instruct your house sitter to let your pet make the first move. A pet guard may be your best option for new introductions to keep your dog safely away from your house sitter. The gate allows your dog to see strangers from a safe distance. Once he realizes this person is harmless, he becomes more open to the idea.
Give treats as rewards
If your pet reacts positively, rewarding him will reinforce the behavior. ! If your house sitter sits closer to your pet while your fur baby sits still, he deserves a treat and praise. Even better, have your house sitter give your dog treats. This way, your dog will learn that calm behavior earns him praise and treats. After the initial introduction, a distraction will be an easy way to achieve your pet’s relaxed and happy state. Choose your pet’s favorite items that distract him from focusing so much on his new friend. A chew toy can distract him with the ground under your feet while keeping the leash as a backup. However, if you notice that your dog is having trouble staying calm, you can take him out of the room and distract him in another room.
Keep the cash
No matter how well prepared you are for the sitter and you think you have everything in place, emergencies don’t knock before coming. Hence it is better to keep some cash (counted) somewhere in the house. Notify the sitter of the money you have kept and also clearly state in which situations can they use this money.
For safer side, provide the sitter with your travel itinerary; including inbound and outbound flights and your accommodation details. It is also wise to share emergency contact details of your colleague or travel agent with the sitter; just in case they are unable to reach to you.
(Because you will be using this information while preparing for a trip, these two posts may also be helpful for you: Traveling with Kids, Packing for Vacations)
Use the printable at the end of this post for the complete preparation list, but you’ll want to keep in mind that it’s good to start preparing about a week ahead of time.
Though you already know, keep these in your Family Notebook, and modify whenever needed:
- Preparing for the House Sitter Checklist (in Word): Preparing for the House Sitter
- Preparing for the House Sitter Checklist (in pdf): Preparing for House Sitter
- Important Phone Numbers for the House Sitter (in Excel): Important Phone Numbers – House Sitters
- Important Phone Numbers for the House Sitter (in pdf): Important Phone Numbers – House Sitters
- Important Information for the House Sitter (in Excel): Information for House Sitters
- Important Information for the House Sitter (in pdf): Information for House Sitters
It’s time for you to follow these guidelines and get ready for the welcome and good-byes. Trust me; if you are well-prepared with all the above-mentioned things, you will have a very relaxed time out of the house, without any worry or guilt. But having all the preparations done doesn’t mean you don’t look back and totally forget about your house. Make sure you stay in touch with the sitter and call them daily to know how things are the other end and ensure to them that you have a check upon them.