You’ve been planning this special date for weeks. But before you check yourself in the mirror one last time to head out for your romantic evening, there’s one last thing you need to do: Make sure your babysitter is qualified to watch your children.
Sure, your neighbor recommended her, but strong references and being “good with children” are only the first steps to being a good babysitter. Here are some basic items to review with your babysitter:
1. Tour of the House
Identify all of the safety hazards the babysitter should be aware of (e.g., sharp corners, wires, etc.). Which rooms can the kids use? Do you keep the doors closed? Are there gates on the stairwells? What is the code to your security system? Point out all of the light switches and explain how to operate important appliances, the heater and air conditioning.
2. Home phone or Cell phone
Show the babysitter where the home phone is located. Although many households don’t have a landline anymore, remember that a landline provides a 911 dispatcher with an instant location in case of an emergency. It isn’t always possible to pinpoint the location of a cell phone. Make sure the babysitter knows your cell phone number, and that you are easily reachable by that number while you are out. Also ask if your babysitter has a cell phone and is able to have it on hand while watching your children. Be sure to talk about how you can be reached in an emergency.
3. Approved Visitors
Talk about if it’s ok or not for the babysitter to have friends over. If a member of your family drops by for a visit, is the babysitter allowed to let them inside? Who else is allowed to come in? It might be a good idea to provide pictures of approved visitors for the babysitter.
4. Emergency Phone Numbers
Create a list of emergency contacts starting with the local police and fire departments, your pediatrician’s number and a list of approved family members for the babysitter, just in case you don’t answer your phone.
5. First aid
Show the babysitter where the first aid kit is located. If you don’t have a first aid kit, show where first aid materials are located (medicine cabinet, bathroom, etc.). Be sure to find out if they know CPR and the Heimlich maneuver as well.
If you have a pet, make sure to go over any care the babysitter will have to provide for the pet. Talk about where the food is located, how much food the pet should eat, when the pet should go out, etc.
7. Food and Snacks
Make sure you tell the babysitter what meals and snacks your children are allowed while you’re away. Show them where all of the utensils and necessary appliances are located. If the children are allowed to snack, clearly discuss the approved snacks and the quantity allowed.
8. Bedtime Routine
If you are staying out past the children’s bedtime, make sure to talk to the babysitter about what time the children should go to bed. Do you usually read to your children or tell them a story? Do you leave the night light on for them? Does the bedroom door stay open or closed? Let your babysitter know the details so the routine stays the same and your children are as comfortable as possible in your absence.
If you follow these tips, you can leave the house knowing that your babysitter is well prepared to care for your children and you can enjoy that special date!
Priscilla Mills is a Health Educator at the Lifestyle Health and Fitness Center.