Plan a worry-free night out with 7 tips to keep kids and caregivers happy.
Spending time with a babysitter can be a positive and fun experience for your children, and having one who’s just a phone call away gets you out of the house, for work or even some play of your own. To make sure he or she will come back for another day or evening, keep these sitter-approved tips in mind.
EVEN THOUGH YOU SET THE RULES, IT HELPS TO SET THE TONE THAT WHEN YOU’RE GONE, I’M IN CHARGE.
It’s important for your children to see the babysitter you choose as an authority figure, so be sure to respect the sitter’s wishes. Call a family meeting with the babysitter before you leave to outline any special rules he has—and your expectations for the kids to follow them.
I LOVE YOUR KIDS, BUT LET’S BE HONEST—I’M ON THE CLOCK HERE!
Uh-oh! You’re at work, and you get called into an emergency meeting that is going to keep you past your designated return time, or you hit some traffic on your way back from dinner. What do you do?
Ideally, let the babysitter know ahead of time about what the plan will be for unexpected delays. Make sure you have a phone number to call her, and be sure to compensate for the extra time and inconvenience.
LAUNDRY IS DEFINITELY A BIG NO-NO.
Although it may be tempting, don’t expect your sitter to complete a load of chores from your detailed to-do list. Instead, focus on what’s most important. And that’s probably not making sure the dishes get done or your house is cleaned while you’re out for the night and your babysitter is caring for your children. Encourage him to interact with your children and leave behind a fun-things-to-do list.
CHILDREN WILLING TO HELP OUT WILL LET ME GET MY JOB DONE.
If you have children of different age groups, don’t be afraid to let the “big” kids help out while you’re gone. Older children tend to welcome the opportunity to make their parents proud and show off a little to the babysitter, so before you leave, give them each a task to do, such as being in charge of cleaning up the dinner dishes or sweeping the floor.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK ME IF I’M CERTIFIED IN CPR. I’VE GOT THE CARD TO PROVE IT.
If your child has special medical needs, be sure that your babysitter is equipped to handle them. Although emergencies can happen, if your children need routine medication, such as an inhaler, it’s best to discuss a plan ahead of time to ensure your children get the proper care.
Some solutions might include arranging for your sitter to get advanced training from the American Red Cross (visit www.redcross. org to find a class near you), or do a run-through with her on how to administer the medication properly. It’s important to keep in mind that your babysitter is not a doctor or nurse, but you can work together to figure out a way to meet your child’s needs. And all babysitters should attend a basic CPR and first aid class.
MAKING MONEY FOR A MOVIE NIGHT? IT’S A WIN-WIN.
Sure, you may feel a little strange paying your babysitter to eat snacks and pop in a movie with your kids, but a night out is a rare treat—for all of you. So don’t worry about the occasional bribe or indulgence.
The important thing is that everyone can relax and have fun.
A LITTLE EXTRA PAY MIGHT JUST MEAN THAT I WILL SUDDENLY BE FREE NEXT WEEKEND WHEN YOU CALL FOR A SITTER, TOO.
What’s the going rate for babysitters these days? The rate for your babysitter will depend on how many children you have, what kind of childcare duties the sitter will be performing, and how long the sitter will be in your home.
One of the best ways to figure out how much to pay a sitter is to ask other nearby families for their rates, taking into consideration weekend and holiday pay. And when in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask your potential caregivers if they have set rates.
Hiring a babysitter for your children can be a positive experience for the entire family. Just be sure to keep the lines of communication open, set clear expectations, and work together to focus on what’s most important for all of you: keeping your little ones safe and happy.