If you hire through a sitter or nanny website, contact the sitter prior to the job to ask a few questions of your own.
Just because an app says someone is verified doesn’t mean they have done a thorough screening. It’s helpful to make contact with a new sitter so that you can get a sense of who they are and how knowledgeable they are regarding childcare.
It’s easy to lie on a website application and you want to feel confident with someone new before leaving your children with them.
Schedule a working interview
Including your children in the interviewing process for a new sitter is a great way to establish trust and confidence early-on.
Schedule 30 minutes or so, for a potential sitter to come over and spend some time with your children while you’re there. You and your children will know right away if the person will be a good fit for your family.
Build in some transition time
If you’re having a new sitter over build in some transition time before you leave for your event. Even 15-20 minutes of time while you’re still in the house can help your children relax and adjust smoothly to someone new.
Don’t sneak out the door
Parents are often worried that if their young children see them leave, the transition will be too hard.
The opposite is true, young children become frightened when parents seem to disappear. They are still developing the idea of object permanence, which is the concept that objects/people still exist after they are out of sight.
A better practice is to use transition time and begin talking about leaving before you leave. They may cry a fuss and this is an opportunity to provide more comfort and assurance.
If they are able to watch you leave with lots of huge and waves and smiles, they will usually make the transition just fine.
Communicate a clear routine
Particularly for young children, one of the best ways to ensure emotional stability is to have a clear day and bedtime routine.
Make sure your sitter has an outline for your child’s routine as well. Older children benefit from clearly communicated expectations too, as they will often try to get away with more with a new sitter.
Make sure your sitter knows things like how much computer time they can have, if they can eat sweets and important house rules. It doesn’t have to be prescribed hour by hour but having a clear timeline means less struggle and more consistency.
Care about your sitters’ life
If you have a regular sitter or nanny and you have no idea where they live, what their goals are or their challenges, you are doing your family a disservice. It’s a great way to establish more trust and partnership between you and your caregiver.
They are acting as role models for your children while you are away and it’s important that you know they share similar values. Knowing more about your sitter’s life also means increasing safety and security for your children.
Feed your sitter
If a sitter is coming over shortly before dinnertime, it’s very likely that they haven’t eaten either. Most parents will set aside a quick meal like Mac n’ Cheese to make for their children but they forget to offer food to their sitter.
Have something easy they can prepare for themselves. Let them know what they can eat and/or order food ahead of time for both children and sitter. This will go a long way considering they may not get home until late at night.
It’s ok to relax your screen time rules
Some parents believe when they have a sitter, their children shouldn’t have any screen time because the sitter will be providing full engagement.
A balanced approach is a better strategy. A combination of engaged play and a video/movie usually works well. Especially if the sitter is new, some children may have separation anxiety or experience trouble following their nighttime routine without mom and dad.
Using a video as a reward for good behavior and/or following a bedtime routine can be just as helpful for a sitter as it is for you when kids get challenging.
Try to be back on time
Your sitter has given up their evening/fun time so you can have yours, try not to keep them waiting even longer to make the tired journey home to their own bed. Try to limit texting them late at night to ask if they can stay later unless it’s an emergency or something unexpected.
Even if they say yes, it’s not the most respectful way to begin a new partnership. You expect them to be on time and they should have the same expectation for you.
Have reasonable expectations
Yes, your regular sitter and nanny will care for your children, they will enjoy being around them, most of the time and they may even grow to love them. But they will never care or love or notice as much as you will. It’s not reasonable for you to expect that. Which is how it should be, you’re their parents. Don’t outsource that!