Let’s be honest, when anyone says they are coming over, our first instinct is to clean the house from top to bottom—and that includes when we’re expecting the sitter. Reality check time: No sitter plans on performing a white glove test in our living room. In fact, prepping for the sitter is less about a whole-house deep clean than it is about making sure the items she needs are easy to find. Here’s how to focus your time and energy when prepping the house for your sitter:

Stock the fridge and pantry.

Regardless of whether your sitter will be watching the kids during mealtime, one thing is certain—they will get hungry. Help your sitter avoid hangry children with easy access to healthy snacks, like pre-chopped fruits and veggies, popcorn, milk, juice, yogurt and raisins. Items should be near the front of the fridge or at eye-level in the pantry. If the sitter needs to feed your kids lunch or dinner, make sure she knows what is available. If you’re keeping it super simple, think freezer section: frozen pizza, chicken nuggets or fish sticks. If you’ve already prepped dinner, and she needs to reheat or cook it, leave it in the fridge, clearly marked with instructions.

Share the passwords.

We’re not talking “open sesame” here. In our digitally connected world, everything has a password or access code. Once you’ve briefed your sitter on screen-time rules, provide her with the necessarily passwords and make remotes easy to find if your kids are allowed to have movie night, 30 minutes of TV or some iPad play time. In addition, if your sitter will be putting the kids to bed and you’re comfortable with it, give her access to the wi-fi network so she can catch up on homework or watch a show after lights out.

Create a command center.

It’s pretty common to think that as long as a sitter can reach you via text, everything is fine. But having emergency phone numbers, medical and safety info, a schedule and house rules written down IRL can be a lot faster and simpler. Find an area in your house that can serve as a command center—a nook in the kitchen or family room usually works well or the dining room table in a pinch—where your sitter can quickly find all the information she needs to be successful.

Set up visual boundaries.

We all have a room or two in our home that we prefer stay off-limits—to kids and sitters. So if you feel strongly about keeping the kids and sitter out of a master bedroom, workshop, home office or even a medicine cabinet, don’t just give the sitter the heads up. Make it clear with visual cues like closed doors and even locks, if you have them. This will make it easier for everyone to follow the house rules.

Keep safety items accessible.

Chances are your sitter will never need to use a fire extinguisher—but it’s pretty likely she’ll need to find a Band-Aid. Either way, preparing your sitter to be ready in case of an emergency is paramount, and it’s critical that your sitter know where all of these items are. Put the first aid kit and fire extinguisher in a room that makes sense, such as a first-floor bathroom, the kitchen pantry or under the kitchen sink. Keep a second set of common first aid items on the second floor as well.

 

Now that you’ve prepped your house, you can head out knowing your sitter is set up for success—no vacuuming required.

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