It's not an easy thing to put your trust and your children in the care of another person, even if it's only for a few hours. The separation anxiety can be a burden, for both parties involved, mom and kid. Something as important as this is best handled with preparation and planning. It’s not an easy thing to leave our kids alone at home, and it’s a whole other set of emotions leaving them with a new babysitter. But we can make all those feelings of uncertainty go away by doing the right things and carrying them out at the right time, and here are ten things we can do.
10 Find the right fit for the kids
Your kids and their attitude should not clash with the babysitter's attitude and personality. Interview, not just credentials and experience, but the personality as well. Do they have the qualities that would best match the personality of your kids? Are they mentally and emotionally equipped to handle unique kids such as yours?
If we are convinced, then let's do it. But if we have the tiniest doubt about saying yes, hold off and maybe we can get someone that's more of a fit for our dear kids. It may only be for a few hours, but we want to be sure all the same.
9 Inform the kids ahead of time
We must practice treating our kids like they are grown-ups, especially in situations that involve change and new people. Let's set their expectations, or better yet, let's plant the idea even before we even plan on doing it.
Asking them what they will do if we were gone for a few hours as a check on their reaction to the real thing. If we decide to do it, then let's tell them not the day before, but maybe the weekend before that. Our plans to go out should include them because they are affected, so if we've been planning it for weeks, then we should plan for them, too.
8 Introducing the babysitter before they meet
Now that we've found the right person to look after them and we've set expectations with our children, it's time to introduce them, but not yet in person. Tell the kids about the sitter, what their name is and what they look like.
They surely will have questions, so be ready to answer them (the interview info we gathered comes in handy here) as detailed as we can. We want to make a good impression so that they are already comfortable with the person. Easing the children this way would make for a calmer and well-expected first encounter between the babysitter and the kids.
7 Give them more than the remote control
Now that mom and dad are out, they get to choose what to watch on TV. But that's not the only thing the kids should have control over. If we can, let's give them an emergency cell phone, let's let the kids feel in control when we're out.
Give them a copy of the list of emergency contact numbers we have, in case they'd need them. The same goes with the emergency kit in the house, flashlights, first aid, and the rest. They should feel very safe, and in truth, us too, especially with an adult that they just met.
6 When the cat's away, you can't just play
If our children are older, they might feel differently about us going out for a while. For them, this could mean they can do whatever they want, like a kid-version of The Purge, so let's quash that idea and set house rules when we're away.
Make a list if we must, let them read it aloud, and have them acknowledge and agree to every rule written on there. Then, of course, we also share it with the babysitter so they'll know what to do when the naughty mice are trying to get some cheese where they shouldn't, so to speak.
5 Schedule things-to-do
The best way to avoid anything going sour at home while we are away is to have a schedule of activities set. This might sound too intense, but it actually works. It's easy, just think of your children's favorite pastimes and games, then get them organized and get the materials needed ready and out there for them to use.
Putting on a movie is old school and boring, we're having a nice time, why not exert a little more effort to make our day out a wonderful stay-in for the kids and the babysitter. Any activity that the babysitter can handle is great.
4 Teach the kids to be independent
We might not have taught our children yet about the stuff inside the house and how they work because we want to believe that they are still young and are still very dependent on us. But when we now have the courage to leave them alone with a guardian, then we must be able to get over this hump as well.
Show them the general things we do in the house and teach them if they're adult enough to do it. Basic things like bolting the door, activating and deactivating alarms and other devices at home. Also, some appliances in the kitchen, like how to work the microwave for popcorn.
3 Lock up and stock up
We are leaving the house, our kids, and our belongings in the hands of someone else for the first time, it's prudent to lock up. Take all valuable items and lock them up in a safe and secure place. Lock the master's bedroom if needed, just do things that would give you peace of mind before leaving.
Stock up as well, replenish the pantry, the kitchen, and the fridge. All available snacks and beverages our kids love devouring on weekends should be restocked. Plan for a temporary Armageddon and stock up as if the house is the last safe place on Earth.
2 Have a meet-and-greet before the day
A meeting of the kids and the babysitter is a great way to relieve tension and get rid of those anxieties we all have, both children and parents. If this meeting can be arranged before the actual day, it would be just wonderful.
Try to schedule a meet-and-greet two or three days before the big day and let the kids feel out the babysitter. This would allow us to see first time reactions, other concerns we missed, and just the general feeling of everything. In reality, we might not be able to pull off a meeting as such, but if lucky and possible, go set it up before the big day comes.
1 Kisses and reassurances
The moment for goodbye has come. Hugs and kisses and last advice and important reminders, it's a farewell that's at least 5-minutes long. Wipe those tears away and use the time to kiss your darlings and tell them it's okay and that they are going to be just fine. Reassure them, and do it again, it would mean a lot to them. Leave them with positive things only, not end your goodbye with don't do this or don't go there. Remember that we left them with the best person for them and that it's all going to be okay.