Headed out for date night? Your sitter has your cell number, so no need to worry… right? Will they remember all the random bits of information you provided as you head out the door? Maybe not. An actual physical babysitter checklist may sound archaic in our digital, mobile-first world, but having a hard copy of contacts, rules, and reminders can be a lifesaver for any caregiver. Set your sitter up for success and increase the odds that you and your partner get an uninterrupted night out by giving them the information they need on a sitter checklist.
Safety is paramount when putting together your sitter checklist. Make the “in case of emergency” information easy for your sitter to access when they need it most. Here’s what to include:
Your Home Address
Could your sitter rattle off your address if they have to contact the police or medical assistance? Probably not. Include your family name and address at the top of the checklist. If you know your home is difficult to find, include general directions so your sitter can explain how to get to your home.
How You Can Be Reached
Your list needs to have your cell phone number (yes, write it down even if your sitter has programmed it into her phone—phones can die) and the cell numbers of all other adults in the home; the phone number of at least one other person you will be with; the name and location of where you will be and a landline phone number for the venue, if one exists.
Important Contact Information
If you can’t be reached in an emergency, who should your sitter call? Include the phone numbers for a nearby relative or close friend and the name, address, and phone number of a neighbor. Other numbers to consider: A non-emergency police phone number, poison control, and of course, 911.
Include the name and phone number of your child’s primary care physician, your insurance provider name and group number, and any allergies and/or other medical conditions. If your child takes medication, include the names and dosages of each, as well as the location of those medications.
First Aid Kit
We all worry about major emergencies, but the likeliest accidents are bumps and bruises that require antiseptic spray, a bandage, and a hug—not 911. Make note of where important safety items are, including the first aid kit, a flashlight, and the fire extinguisher.
Next-Level Babysitter Instructions
You’ve covered the most important items. Now it’s time to think about what will help your sitter avoid mishaps and misunderstandings. Consider adding this information to your sitter checklist:
Writing down rules allows you to be clear about your expectations for your kids and the sitter. Include whether or not any rooms, such as the master bedroom or home office, are off-limits, and if your sitter is inexperienced, make sure they know that guests are not permitted.
Screen Time Expectations
Screen time is a hot topic right now, and parents have different levels of comfort with the type and amount of media that kids are allowed to consume. Write down specific time limits your household observes on the TV or tablet and how to enforce those limits. Don’t forget about what shows or channels your kids can watch (and the channels that they can’t).
Discussing discipline is at the top of the list during nanny interviews, but it’s often an afterthought when leaving the kids with an occasional sitter. Write down the common behavior issues they might encounter and how you prefer they handle those situations.
What time is bedtime and how should the sitter go about getting the kids to wind down? Provide a quick rundown of the routine so your sitter isn’t left in the dark.
If you have pets, your sitter needs to be aware of any additional responsibilities. On your list, include the pets you have, their names and demeanor. Explain the basics of care, like if the pets should stay inside or if they can be let out in the yard, if they need to be fed and where pet products are kept. It doesn’t hurt to include the number of your vet and a 24-hour animal hospital.
Food and Snacks
Even if your child doesn’t have any food allergies, you might want to add information about food restrictions, snacks that are available to your kids, and what meals the sitter can make if the kids get hungry.
Tips and Tricks
Sometimes a piece of seemingly inconsequential information can make a big difference in the sitter’s and your kid’s experience. Whether it’s checking under the bed before turning out the lights, knowing which stuffed animal is special, or singing a song that will ease anxieties and tame tantrums, share the small details that make a big difference.
A Full Report
Did the kids have a good night? Yep, says the sitter as they head out the door. That may be enough info for some parents, but others like a full report. If you fall in the latter category, include a section on your checklist with what you’d like to be debriefed on when you return.
Here are a few ideas of what to include:
- Your child’s general mood.
- Food and snacks eaten and when.
- Naps taken and bedtime.
- Any issues, problems or other important information.