Post image for How to Organize Babysitter Instructions

Today’s post comes from regular Momof6 contributor, Crystal Sabalaske…

Hiring a sitter so you can spend an afternoon or evening away from home is a lot like preparing to go on vacation. When you pack for vacation and just throw random stuff in a suitcase, you might find yourself wasting precious relaxation time scouring stores for a pair of comfortable shoes and a toothbrush because you left yours at home. If you’re itching to get out for a night and an opportunity presents itself because you finally have a babysitter, resist the urge to give your kids a quick hug and kiss and scramble out the door. You’ll end up missing the movie if you spend half the night on the phone trying to help the babysitter locate your child’s “lovey”.

If you want to have a great time and create a positive experience for both your children and the babysitter, take the time to organize your babysitter instructions!

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(photo credit: flickr/Jean Tessier)

Create a document with pertinent information that can be updated as needed

If you type it, fill in the permanent information, like your address, but leave blank spaces next to categories that change more frequently such as the dinner menu and nap times. Fill in the blanks with pencil so you can erase and change those sections next time, create multiple copies of your document to use each time a sitter comes, or insert the pages inside a plastic sheet protector/sleeve and use a dry erase marker to fill in the blanks.

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 (photo credit: brother)

Babysitter Instructions should include:

Vital Information - Address, parents’ cell phone and work numbers, emergency contact names and numbers, doctor’s contact information, health insurance information, list of health issues, allergies and medications, where extra keys can be located, and security alarm access code.

Medications – Make sure to put all medication names and doses in writing. Don’t assume the sitter knows the difference between ibuprofen and Tylenol. Where are the medications located, and where can the spoon/syringe/cup for the correct dosage be located? If training is required for an inhaler or Epi-pen, take the time to show your babysitter how to use those items.

Meal Plans – At what times should the kids be served snacks and meals? Are any foods off limits? We have 19 food allergies in our house. I always leave our sitter with a list of options. My kids aren’t allowed to eat something if it’s not on the list. I’ll often leave the food out on the counter so there’s no confusion about which snacks foods are okay to eat. If your child’s grapes need to be cut in half, make sure to tell the sitter.

List of Favorite and Least Favorite Activities - My kids like to build obstacle courses. They had a new sitter who didn’t know this, but the kids didn’t bother to tell her either. When I came home, they said, “She wasn’t as fun as our other sitter because she didn’t make obstacle courses.” It was an unfair assessment, and once we told the new babysitter about obstacle course fun, they had a better experience with her. Babysitters aren’t mind readers. Give them an advantage by letting them know how your children like to spend their time.

Nap and Bedtime Routines – I babysat other people’s children on and off for about 17 years. Throughout the years, the most helpful thing to me was when a parent took the time to explain every nuance related to a child’s sleeping habits. Do they sleep with a sound machine? Should the door be left halfway open? Is the hall light supposed to be on? Is there a special teddy bear that needs to be in the crib? The most frustrating thing for a sitter is to try to get a child who won’t settle down to go to bed.

House Rules - Can the kids watch tv? If so, is there a time limit or channel restrictions? Can the children have friends over? Can they play in the yard? Is the sitter allowed to leave the property to take the kids for a walk? Is the sitter allowed to have friends visit? Is the pool off limits?

The first time you schedule a sitter to stay with your children, ask him/her to arrive at least 45 minutes early. This will give you enough time to review the plan and answer any questions.

If the idea of putting together your babysitter’s plan seems a little overwhelming, check out the form on Sensible Sitters. It offers a basic template and includes a medical release form for the parents to sign authorizing medical treatment in case of an emergency.

Is there anything else you think your sitter should know before leave your kids to enjoy a night out on the town?

Crystal Sabalskee Head Shot 150 px How to Organize Babysitter InstructionsCrystal Sabalaske, owner of Cluttershrink, has appeared as an organizing expert on HGTV. Her organizing tips have also appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Men’s Health and Parents magazines. For more organizing tips, please follow Crystal on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!


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