There is nothing more nerve-wracking than leaving your precious little one in someone else’s care, particularly if you are doing so for the first time or with a new babysitter. Finding a babysitter you can trust is the first step in ensuring a safe environment for your child when you are away. You'll also want to clearly communicate your expectations and house rules with anyone who will be caring for your children.
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- Lay out the rules. Tell your babysitter your expectations for conduct. Explain the family rules and the ways to enforce them. Leave emergency phone numbers handy so that your babysitter can reach you if there are any problems.
- Safety first. Review basic safety rules with your babysitter, such as being extra careful with children when they are around water, what foods to avoid, and how to avoid choking, especially with young children. You also want to talk about safety instructions that may be specific for your child, such as allergies and typical behaviors. For example, if your child likes to climb, let your babysitter know what you do to prevent your child from putting himself at risk.
- Any caregiver can become overwhelmed. Tell the babysitter that he or she can call you if they are feeling overwhelmed or need help. Provide the phone number of a neighbor or friend in case you cannot be reached.
- Stay in contact. Once you leave your child with a babysitter, plan to come home a little earlier than expected, just to see how things are going in your house. It is also a good idea to call and check-in while you are out.
- Suggest activities. Plan out one or two of your child's favorite activities with the babysitter. Leave easy to prepare meals for them to eat together.
- Keep routines consistent. Provide specific guidelines for bedtime or other parts of the day where you child is used to a particular routine.
- If possible, talk to your child. Be sure to ask if your child liked the babysitter and, regardless of the answer, ask why your child feels that way.
- Listen to your instincts. Do not hesitate to stop hiring a babysitter or allowing someone to care for your child if you have any concerns or are uncertain about their abilities.