How to Prepare for your Babysitter

If you’re a first-time parent, the thought of leaving your child for a few hours may seem overwhelming. How will the caregiver know how to calm him down when he starts to cry? Will they know what her favorite toy is? What if she’s hungry and they don’t know what’s wrong?

We get it. Being a parent is challenging, rewarding, humbling, and exciting. Knowing what every cry means sets us apart from others who may provide care. However, purposefully setting aside time for yourself is so important in this season. Being able to take the time for self-care and to reset helps us, which also helps our kids! That’s why we here at Otter feel it’s imperative to provide safe, quality childcare so you can take the (well-deserved!) time you need.

When you’ve booked your first care session, you may feel mixed emotions:

- relief, that you can have some time to breathe on your own

- guilt, for taking time by yourself (this is a normal reaction, but we stand by the fact that you deserve a break!)

- uncertainty at what to expect

At Otter, we work hard to ensure our caregivers are ready to provide high-quality care to your children. Our caregivers have all completed background checks, and many have gone through CPR/First Aid and/or babysitter training. Every parent needs a community, and we’re here to help!

To get ready for the first care session, here are some tips on how to prepare for the babysitter’s arrival:

1) Be sure to leave out any items the babysitter might need for the child(ren).

Is your child still in diapers? Leave a station with diapers, wipes, and an extra change of clothes. Do they use bottles? Prep the bottles in advance and refrigerate (if applicable), or prepare the bottles for formula. Be sure to leave instructions on how to heat the bottle properly or prepare them for formula! If there is a favorite game or toy your child likes to play with, you can also set this out and let the sitter know when they arrive.

2) Be safety prepared

Have a list available that includes your home address, emergency contacts, and numbers like poison control that your sitter may need. You can also show them how to properly lock doors and/or baby gates, how to use your baby monitor and what items (like your laptop) or certain areas of the house (like parent’s bedroom) that are off limits to your kids during care.

3) Write out a schedule.

If your child has a routine, it can be helpful to keep them on their schedule. If they have regular naps, be sure to write out the time(s), as well as what they typically do before or after their naps. If they like to cuddle as they wake up, be sure to write that down so the sitter knows. If they are outside before dinner, take note of this. Writing these details out will help the sitter, which will in turn help your family!

4) Stage everything your child needs for bedtime.

This includes pajamas, a clean diaper (if applicable), and their favorite bedtime books or blanket. To go along with our first tip, writing out clear instructions with timing is also super helpful. An example of a bedtime routine is below:

7:30PM - He can be changed into a clean diaper and pajamas (these are left out on his nightstand for you)

7:40PM - Read his favorite stories (Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site, and Brown Bear), which are also on his nightstand

7:50PM - He goes into his crib at this time, and the fan is turned on (setting - 3) for white noise. You can sing to him, or talk to him for a few minutes as he gets settled in.

8PM - Lights off with the nightlight on. He should go right to sleep at this time - if there are any problems, text me and I can help provide guidance.

5) Keep open communication with the babysitter.

It’s a good idea to set communication expectations ahead of time - would you like updates only as needed or is it helpful to know when the child last ate or slept was? Do you want to talk to your child if they request it or are you away and can’t talk until a certain time?

Also be sure to consider how your child best communicates. How do you navigate when your child has a hard time (ie - do you talk it out or read a story to get to calm together)? Do your kids have certain rules or things that they need to complete during care? Share these with the caregiver to be sure you’re on the same page!

If you happen to remember anything important after you’ve left, feel free to text! The sitter will appreciate the heads up, and you’ll feel better knowing they have a direct line to you if anything comes up.

6) Enjoy your time!

A parent’s work is (truly) never done. No matter how many hours you put in during the day, there will still be more. Take the time to unwind and enjoy the well-deserved break!

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