Babysitter Instructions I
It is important for parents to leave detailed, specific babysitter instructions when they leave their child with a sitter. The three most important things a baby sitter needs to know about handling babysitting situations that occur under normal circumstances are:
- What to do
- What not to do
- How to respond in an emergency
It is best to both talk through these items and to leave written babysitter instructions in an obvious location, perhaps near a telephone. It’s often a good idea to have a separate sheet of Emergency Information for a sitter—if you are just out for a few hours in the evening, there will be a lot of information on your regular Emergency Information sheet that the sitter will not need, and you can save time by just telling the sitter what the sitter needs to know. This article covers the first two topics: the information the sitter needs for normal, everyday situations that are likely to occur. How the sitter should respond in case of an emergency is covered in Babysitter Instructions II.
What To Do
• The child’s or children’s schedule(s), including whether variations are allowed and under what circumstances. This includes times for eating, napping, going outside (e.g., to the park or playground), going to bed for the night, taking medications, and any other activities that are best conducted at specific times.
Make sure you clearly indicate where there’s flexibility in the schedule, and give helpful advice for when the child doesn’t cooperate with the routine. For example, what if the child doesn’t want to get up from her nap at 2:00 p.m.? What if she isn’t ready to have a snack at 11:00 a.m.? What if he won’t take his medicine? Giving the sitter back-up information can make the situation more comfortable for everyone and prevent the need to call you for further instructions.
• Meals/Snacks, including instructions on favorite snacks and meals, how to prepare them, etc. Any food allergies should be explicitly mentioned and written down, and the location of any antidotes shown to the sitter.
• Emergency plans, including the location of a first aid kit, the best ways to exit the house if necessary in case of a fire, gas leak, or other problem; and the first person/organization to call in different situations.
• Who is allowed in the house, including anyone who may stop by unannounced.
• Security measures you would like taken, such as keeping the doors and windows locked and staying indoors; locking the house (where are the keys?) when taking the children to the park or walking the dog, etc. If you have a security system, you may need to leave the code with the sitter as well as instructions on how to set and disarm it.
• Who is allowed to know where you are, including any important calls or visits that are likely and what response you would like given (for example, tell a friend to meet you at a restaurant, tell your mother where you are, etc.)
What Not To Do
Babysitter instructions on what not to do:
• House rules, including limits on food, television and radio programs, videos, computer games and other computer activities; and if there are any places in the home that are off limits (either to children, the sitter, or both—a pool area or a business computer for instance).
• Phone Use/Guests: Tell your babysitter if you'd prefer that she stay off the phone while watching the children, or if she can use the phone once they're asleep. Also, firmly state if guests of the babysitter's are unacceptable.
Written by Mary Elizabeth
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