From date nights and work events to weekends away, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll leave your kids with a babysitter, caregiver or family friend. This can be a stressful, anxiety-filled experience—especially if you’re new to it—and you might find it difficult to enjoy your time away. Toddlers and kids thrive when their routine is stable, and their likes and dislikes can be very particular, so it’s only natural to be hesitant to leave them with a new person.
Fortunately, making sure your sitter has all the information they need can help alleviate your worries. Start by going through our Babysitter Basics printout, which includes the most important information to leave for your sitter. This guide, in addition to preparing a few items in case of an emergency, will pave the way for a successful night for your kids, your sitter and you.
First things first, write down your names, cell phone numbers, where you’ll be and the contact info for the venue. Make sure the sitter knows approximately what time you’ll be home, and if calling or texting is better if something comes up.
Be sure to list your children’s names, ages and dates of birth, as well as each child’s likes and dislikes. For example, if your toddler does better with a special stuffed animal nearby or if your eight year old wants to practice his karate moves near the china, let your babysitter know.
Finally, include contact info for a neighbor or close-by relative and any important information about your pet, if you have one. Review this information with the caregiver before leaving to see if they have any questions.
Medical & Emergency Information
Along with basic contact information, you may want to include detailed information in case of minor sickness or an emergency. Include your pediatrician’s contact information and your insurance information. In the case that one of your kids gets mildly sick or injured while you’re away, our form includes a space for instructions on how the babysitter should handle it, including the location of the first aid kit and which over-the-counter pain relievers can be used.
You should also prepare some other information and forms, in addition to our checklist, for them to have on-hand. In a folder or binder, organize all emergency forms. Make sure the folder includes:
- Medical treatment consent forms
- Insurance cards (or photocopies)
- Emergency contacts, if not listed elsewhere
- Nearest hospital
- Nearest pharmacy
- Emergency CPR info
- List of allergies
Give the Grand Tour
Your sitter will appreciate getting the lay of the land before you head out, so give them a tour of your whole home. Elaborate on the rules for each room—toys must be put away in the playroom and no food is allowed in the bedrooms, for example. Show your sitter all exits in case of an emergency, as well as any doors or windows that you’d prefer stay locked or closed. Lay out a key in case they need it and write down the garage door code if applicable.
Show your sitter where you keep the items you think your child might want while you’re away, from pacifiers to preferred sippy cups. If it makes sense, consolidate favorite toys, games and blankets in a bin for easy access. Gather a few miscellaneous items that your babysitter may need, too, such as:
- Home phone
- First aid kit
- Extra cash
- Extra diapers
- Over-the-counter medicine for kids
If your sitter plans on taking your kids out, prepare a diaper bag or tote ahead of time with necessities. Think about what they’ll need depending on the season and time of day they’ll be out. Sunscreen and sun hats? Mittens and snow boots? Toss them in the bag to save your babysitter some time. Also be sure to place an extra set of medical and emergency information in that bag in case something comes up while they’re away from the home.
Stick to Schedules
Making sure the sitter knows your family’s schedule is a good idea for everyone. On your babysitter checklist, provide times and routines for eating, bath time and bedtime.
Let the sitter know what mealtime entails. Show them around the kitchen, and open each cabinet and drawer so they know where to find plates, utensils and anything else they’ll need. If your little one has a favorite cup, plate or utensils, make sure to point those out as well. If food needs to be prepared, provide any necessary instructions for what to do. If you’re looking for something nutritious that can easily be heated and served, consider a few Nurture Life meals.
Discuss any specific instructions for bath time and bedtime routines. Parents can take this opportunity to discuss their kid’s behaviors as well. If your kid tends to call for you after he’s been put to bed, for example, explain to the sitter exactly what you say and do to coax him back to sleep.
House Rules (Still) Rule
Just because the babysitter’s in charge doesn’t mean rules go out the window. While following every little rule might not be practical, explain to your babysitter the main guidelines you expect your toddlers and kids to obey. Ask your sitter to stay consistent with your methods of enforcing rules. If your child is going through a particular behavioral phase that you feel your sitter should know about, have the conversation and answer any questions they might have regarding the best way to approach it.
Leaving your kids with a sitter doesn’t have to be a nerve-racking experience. With some planning and a detailed babysitter guide, everyone will be more at ease. You’ll enjoy your time away knowing you’ve prepared well and that your kids are in good hands, and your caregiver will appreciate your thoroughness in helping them succeed.