As every parent knows, having a babysitter watch your kids and release you from your duties for a while is a wonderful thing. And, as much as you enjoy your time away, it can also be stressful for you, the kids, and the babysitter. Every house has its own routines and yours may seem like the most logical way to do things, but to someone new, it might feel like a foreign land with a new set of customs and beliefs entirely different than the last home they were in. Some of the routines most challenging for a babysitter (and the kids!) are nap times and bedtimes. So, today we’re sharing some tips to help you feel more comfortable while being away, help your kids maintain their normal sleep routines as much as possible, and help the babysitter better understand how to best care for your children. Ultimately, everyone will be happier! Here’s how to prepare your babysitter for naps and bedtime.
- Make a list outlining your routines. Over the course of a few evenings, make a list of everything you do to get ready for bedtime from start to finish. We suggest making notes while you’re in the process, to ensure you don’t miss a thing. You may be so used to certain habits of your child’s that you would never remember to tell someone else. For instance – maybe your son hates the blue sippy cup because one time milk went up his nose, so he thinks this will happen every time. These are the sort of things that are really going to help the sitter when they’re trying to put your kids to sleep. Keep this list on hand and updated at all times in case your regular babysitter cancels at the last minute and a neighbor has to come over – or in case of an emergency situation where you suddenly have to be away.
- Stick to your usual routines beforehand. Do your best to stay on a normal schedule before the babysitter is coming over. Avoid scenarios like this: you’re planning for a big event and you’re stressed out and you end up putting your baby down later than usual for nap time, which ends up making it harder for the babysitter to stay on the usual schedule later. We know that this isn’t always easy, but it’s a very good thing to keep in mind.
- Have something fun planned for them to do while you’re gone. This is an especially useful tip if your child has separation anxiety. Whether it’s a favorite show to watch, games to play, or a special snack – a little something to make the kids feel like this is a fun event will make the whole process smoother and more fun for everyone. It should even make it easier for next time too!
- Have your child’s food and snacks ready for the sitter. Make sure that whatever you want the babysitter to feed the kids while you’re gone is either already done and just needs to be heated up or else is very simple to make. You don’t want to leave the babysitter in a situation of trying to find where everything is in your kitchen while your child is hungry. If they have a healthy, normal meal, they’ll have a much better chance of falling asleep like they usually do.
- Make sure they start to calm things down a little earlier than you normally do. This is the one deviation from your typical routine that you’ll want your sitter to make. Have the babysitter start quiet time about 20-30 minutes before usual. This gives a good buffer for any bumps in the process that may arise. Dimming the lights, listening to quiet music, and reading books are all tried and true ways to wind down and start transitioning the children to sleep. Empowering the babysitter and your child with a sleep aid like Tranquil Turtle that emits a calming, watery, light effect and makes soothing white noise or a Twinkling Firefly Frog that has glowing fireflies in his tummy and emits a gentle heart beat with just a little hug can be a huge help!
- Help the babysitter keep the house quiet at night. Once your children are sound asleep, you’ll want the house to stay as peaceful as it does on any other night – so helping the sitter know where things are for later will make their job a lot easier. Leave some simple instructions for the remote controls, some snacks in the fridge, any special notes about lights that might be helpful, instructions for working the baby monitor, etc.
Having someone new watching your babies is sure to make you feel a bit anxious (and them!), but if you plan ahead it can definitely be enjoyable for everyone involved. The kids get a special night with someone different that can be a new friend and you get some badly needed “me” time knowing that your children are peacefully sleeping safely at home.
Do you have other tips to prepare your babysitter for naps and bedtime? Share them in the comments!