Hiring your first babysitter can be nerve-racking and anxiety producing. Your children will do well with an experienced and knowledgeable teenager. It is healthy for children to experience different caregivers and they often thrive with the attention the sitters give them. Here are some tips rounded up from experienced sitters, moms and myself as a therapist/mom who was also a teen who babysat all through school.
16-year-old Babysitter to parent tips:
Trust that your sitter can take care of your child’s needs and leave them to do the job you hired them to do.
For example if you started making dinner, ask the sitter if they know how to finish and then let them do it. They are ready to connect with your child and your presence affects that connection.
Leave promptly after the sitter arrives.
Be dressed and ready to leave. Your child and sitter are ready to play! Babysitter’s typically do not want to get paid for standing around. They enjoy the spending time with children and your child has been waiting for them to arrive.
Understand that the babysitter is going to bend the rules.
For example, they may let your child stay up 10 minutes later or hear an extra story. This is not meant to undermine your authority but to build their relationship and make the experience fun.
Reserve your sitter a few days to a week in advance. Last minute phone calls to babysit should be reserved for emergencies only. Babysitters often have social lives and would like to be able to make other plans.
Also, they may babysit for more than one family so cancelling last minute can affect whether they can accept other jobs.
Emergency information is most important.
At the first meeting with the sitter, make sure they know where you keep medicine and first aid supplies. If your child takes medicine daily, make sure they know which ones and if they will be medicating them. It is important your sitter know what medications your children are taking in case of emergency so they can share that with medical personal. As well, they should have a written list of all allergies.
The Do’s and Don’ts for your household should be clearly laid out.
Babysitters need to know what television shows, Netflix, movies, video games, etc. that you would never allow and foods or activities that are never going to be okay. For example, if you do not want you sitter taking the kids outside to play, you should make this clear from the start. Also, if your child has been begging to see a horror movie and you don’t allow it, inform the sitter so they won’t be talked into it.
Discuss money up front. Pay before sending them home and make sure you have the correct amount. If you are paying through an APP make sure they have access to a checking account. Cash is king with teenagers, as many do not have checking accounts or parents who want to have to deposit checks for them.
Allow sitters some flexibility with bedtime and snacks. This makes it more fun for everyone and your child will want the sitter to return.
Children’s Counselor suggestions:
Have the sitter visit before their first time actually watching your children.
On an agreed upon time, have your sitter stop by to meet your children and familiarize them with your house rules and expectations. This will make the first night easier and there will be fewer surprises.
Explain the bedtime routines but be willing to bend.
It is helpful if the sitter knows their favorite books, Lovies, and routine but they are not the parent and the kids adjust quickly to some changes.
Prepare your child with positive language about having the sitter over.
If you are nervous about using a sitter for the first time, your child will sense your hesitancy and cry and fuss when the sitter arrives and when it is time for you to leave. It is normal for toddlers to be somewhat upset, as separation anxiety is higher at this stage. The calmer you are and the quicker you leave, the sooner they can start bonding with your child.
And finally, make your goodbyes quick and loving.
Just like when dropping them off at daycare or school. They may need assurance you will be returning but they also need you to leave so they can start adjusting to the change.
This is an exciting new adventure for you and your child. Enjoy your adult only time with your significant other and know that your child is having a blast. Be available by phone and breathe.