How to Set Parents at Ease While Babysitting


Otter sitter Karina Greenlee contributed to this post.

If you’re scheduled to provide care for a family you haven’t met yet, we know it can seem a little intimidating! Whether you’re new to babysitting or a seasoned pro, here are some ideas to help you build trust with a new family!

- Communication - If you’re a sitter with Otter, we will connect you with the parent two days before a scheduled care session via a 3-way text. This is a great time to introduce yourself! Share a little about who you are and what you love about babysitting. Invite the parents to share anything they feel is important (schedules, nap times, etc). This is a great way to start the relationship on a positive note and to build trust with the family!

- Be prepared - Before the care session, note the ages of the children you will be caring for. If they are toddlers or preschoolers, come prepared with some age-appropriate and fun games to play. You can prepare a fun kid-friendly music playlist in advance for dance parties or be ready to play hide and seek when you arrive!

- Be on time - There will be times where the unexpected happens (traffic, a flat tire, etc), however strive to be on time for every care session. This shows the family that you are serious about providing quality care for their children and that they are a priority!

- Let the kids warm up to you - When you meet the kids, get down at their level, smile, and introduce yourself. But if they’re initially shy, don’t force them to interact. They’ll approach you when they’re ready.

- Confirm routines and house rules with the parents - Ask the parents before they leave what the children’s routines are so you can work the session’s schedule around naps, snacks, or other regular daily activities. This is especially helpful for parents of younger children, as it shows them that you are there to provide support in a way that is beneficial for everyone involved, including the parents!

- Help ease separation anxiety for parents - Kids of any age sometimes get upset when separated from their parents. And parents, especially those who don’t have much experience leaving their kids with a sitter, are often nervous about their kids crying when they leave. This can lead to parents lingering and attempting to reassure their child, which often makes everyone more anxious. If a child is crying and the parents seem unwilling to leave, calmly remind them that the child won’t be upset for long. Encourage them to say their goodbyes and leave. Remind them that you have their number and can contact them if you need to.

- Help ease separation anxiety for kids - Often kids will stop crying as soon as they realize it isn’t going to make their parents stay and cheerfully start to play. If a child is still upset, stay calm. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Offer a hug, but respect their wishes if they don’t want to be held. Reassure them that their parents will be home later. Kids usually cheer up within a few minutes, but sometimes they need your help to snap out of it. Start playing or reading a book out loud and wait for them to join you. Do a silly dance - they’ll laugh. You can also check out our post on how to care for a child with separation anxiety for more tips and tricks!

- Go above and beyond - Notice that the kids left some toys out or that the dishes are stacked up? Team up with the kids to put the toys away and surprise their parents with a clean home! Playing kid-friendly music is a great way to host a clean up party - and the parents will be delightfully surprised when they get home!

- Close out with good communication - End the care session by sharing how it went with the parents. Share any fun activities that were completed or one good thing about each child you cared for - did one of them share or show kindness in some way? This is also a good time to share any minor questions or concerns about anything that happened during the care session. The parents will appreciate your responsibility.

Providing care for a family is an amazing opportunity! You get to share experiences with little people who love to learn. The children can benefit from your skills as you help them navigate challenges. More than anything, by providing quality care and going above and beyond as a sitter, you’re building a relationship with the family and supporting your community, which is invaluable for everyone involved!