As we inch closer to Valentine’s Day, you might be calling, texting, and Facebooking every babysitter you know to reserve your much-needed night out on February 14. And while you’re completely fine with leaving the kiddos in capable hands for a few hours, the reality is that they may not be.
But before you attempt to make a break for the door with a toddler attached to your leg, know that there are a few ways to make your Minis a bit more comfortable with a sitter. We tapped Sara Snow, Chief Parenting Officer of Bambino—a membership babysitting app that uses a private social network to connect you to a community of recommended sitters trusted by friends and families right in your own neighborhood—for a few of her best tips on getting out the door a little easier.
Ease into it. Though it may be tempting to avoid alerting your high-stress child to an upcoming sitter, never spring it on them at the last minute. Give them a chance to get used to the idea and ask you any questions they may have about the sitter, how long you’ll be away, and how she can get in touch with you if she needs to.
Let them give a tour. When the sitter first arrives, let your child be the one to show him or her around. Your 7-year-old may want to show off her room and books, while your 5-year-old will probably want to put all of his legos on display. If you think they’ll need extra time for this process, schedule a meet and greet a few days before the sit is scheduled to happen. Most sitters are happy to pop by for 15 or 30 minutes, either paid or unpaid.
Make a plan. Having at least one key activity planned for the sitter to do with the kids can alleviate stress on both parts. Whether that’s making ice cream sundaes after dinner or playing a new board game is up to you and, if possible, the kids. This is something the kids can look forward to and it takes the pressure off the sitter to come up with it all on her own.
Get organized. You’ll want to make sure your sitter knows where to find emergency numbers and pertinent information, of course, but you should allow your children to have access to this as well. Spend some time teaching them how to call 911 and be sure they have your cell phone number and their own home address memorized. This is important information for any child to know.
Go over the rules. Before the sitter arrives, and again after he or she is there, go over the house rules with your kids. Be sure they understand that bedtimes and other rules like no running in the house or no going in the pool without a grown up are still in effect even when the sitter is in charge. Knowing that things will still feel normal even after mom and dad leave, will help your kids feel more comfortable until you return.
Opening Image: Vanessa Tierney for Mini Magazine