Finding reliable sitters who click with your family can be a challenge — and awesome sitters who fit the bill are usually in high demand. Once you find a great sitter, how do you make sure she wants to keep coming back? By treating her with respect and making sure she has everything she needs to care for your kids properly. Remember to do these things before you go out and your go-to sitters will love you for it.
Stock the must-haves.
Even the most skilled sitter can’t care for an infant or toddler without diapers, wipes and bottles. (Make sure the bottles are clean, too — you don’t want your sitter scrubbing plastic nipples when she should be supervising your kids.) Do a quick supply-closet check at least a few hours before your sitter is scheduled to arrive so you have time to run to the store if you’re on your last Pamper (and so you don’t get a text about it while you’re on your date.)
You don’t have to cook the mac and cheese yourself, but it’s nice to put the box near the stove for easy access. Use divider plates to prep sides like grapes and cheese and place them in the fridge so your sitter isn’t rummaging through your crisper hoping to find some carrot sticks.
Mention if your kid is sick.
Some sitters are OK with watching mildly sick children; others are not, and it’s important to respect those boundaries. Either way, you must warn your sitter about your kiddo’s case of the sniffles before she arrives so she can decide if she still wants to come by. (Of course, if your child is really ill you should cancel no matter what.)
Don’t add extra kids.
Going on a double date with another set of parents? Why not save money and use the same babysitter, right? Wrong. Your sitter has agreed to watch your kids only. Dropping off an additional child is not part of the deal (unless you ask first and raise her hourly rate if she agrees).
Let her know if you’re running late.
Ten minutes is probably OK. Anything more is not. If you’re caught in traffic or late because of other reasons you can’t control, be sure to text your sitter and let her know. If you’re having an awesome time and simply want to stay out later, ask her if it’s OK first. She’ll probably say yes. (Either way, you should leave an extra big tip to acknowledge her flexibility.)
Remember to pay.
It seems pretty obvious, but after a great date night (and maybe a couple of drinks) it could slip your mind. Check if you have cash in your wallet before you go out; if not, set aside time for an ATM run on the way home. And make sure you hand the money to your sitter soon after you get home — she absolutely should not have to ask you for payment as she’s putting her coat on and walking out the door.
Have any more no-no’s to add to the list? Tell us on Twitter! You’ll find us at @sittercity.