When I was pregnant, I felt fairly prepared for caring for my new baby. I figured since I had three younger brothers and had been babysitting since I was 11, I’d be a natural. Of course, not even two decades of babysitting experience prepares you for the reality of newborn life or parenthood. When my daughter was born, I realized I’d vastly overestimated the childcare skills I’d acquired through babysitting.
But, now as a mom of two young kids, I also understand why that first profession of mine was so highly valued. When I find a babysitter I trust and who my kids also love, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot. I want to keep them happy and coming back. One way to help is by spending a little time prepping for those caregivers. Here are five things to prep for the babysitter that they’ll appreciate.
There are certainly those unicorn babysitters who come equipped with creative ideas, fun outings, or detailed plans for their time spent watching the kids in their care. But usually I’m happy with someone who is kind to my kids—and cleans up the kitchen. To help a sitter out, have a fun new activity your kids and the babysitter to do together. One idea? Get a KiwiCo activity crate subscription so you always have something new on hand as a special treat when the babysitter arrives.
KiwiCo crates are designed by childhood development experts and educators. Plus, KiwiCo crates come with most of the supplies you need—so no extra shopping trips for crafting supplies and no messy clean-up for the sitter. Plus, by doing a monthly subscription, you’ll always have something on hand that’s new and engaging for your kids to do with their favorite caregiver (or with you on a rainy day!)
2. Keep the Fridge/Pantry Stocked With Surefire Meals and Snacks
I always appreciated the mom who left money for pizza back in the day. So that’s still certainly one valid option for feeding the kids. Another is to prep easy meals or have simple options available that you know your kids will eat.
Try not to leave it to the sitter to force a picky eater to consume all of their broccoli. Give them the surefire meal option they won’t have to fight with your kids about finishing. Same goes for snacks and treats. Have them easily accessible with clearly set limits (for the kids, I usually tell sitters to help themselves if they’re hungry).
3. Set Clear Behavior Expectations with Your Kids (in Front of the Babysitter)
You want to empower your sitter to be the one in charge when you’re away. But you also want your kids to enjoy the time they spend with them. Having a babysitter should feel special to your kids—someone coming over just to spend time with them! So set some of the limits and expectations with your kids in front of the babysitter. That way, when the sitter is enforcing your rules—your kids can see you as the bad guy, not their super special caregiver.
Having a babysitter should feel special to your kids—someone coming over just to spend time with them!
Expectations and limits go for screen time too, since we all know how easy it can be for kids to use screens as a crutch for boredom. I know my kids would push for just “one more show” if I didn’t set out clear guidelines. I want my sitter to have a rule to reference and remind them if they’re pushing it.
4. Outline Nap and Bedtime Nuances
When it comes to bedtime, my own kids are fairly high-maintenance. They use different toothpastes, have different bedtime routines, and sleep with special (irreplaceable) stuffed animals. Clue your caregiver into all the nuances of your family’s nap and bedtime routine you know by heart.
It can also help to leave the pajamas, sleepsacks, or loveys out in plain view, so the sitter isn’t dealing with a tired-kid-missing-stuffy-meltdown.
5. Know Their Rate and How They’d Like to be Paid
If this is the first time you’re having this person watch your kids, agree on the rate ahead of time so neither of you come out surprised. Additionally, many sitters prefer electronic payment like Venmo or Zelle, so make sure you have the necessary info to pay them. And if they prefer cash, you’ll want to be prepared for that, too.
Also, don’t forget to pay them. I’ll admit I’ve had to have more than one person send me a Venmo request if I’m relieving the sitter late at night—so I always round up a little extra in those instances. I don’t want to lose them over my own forgetfulness!
This post was in partnership with KiwiCo but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.