Aaaargh! Something’s come up and you need a last minute babysitter.
There are lots of reasons why it happens, and that’s why it’s a great idea to always have a childcare backup plan (or two). Some parents intentionally rotate through several sitters to keep the relationships current so they always have a list to call on.
But even with the best preparation, there can still be times when you are caught out and find yourself desperately hunting for a babysitter at short notice.
Best Options for a Last Minute Babysitter
Run through this simple “ABC” checklist …
“A” is for “Ask Yourself”. Ask yourself if the need for you to go out is really that important. Your children are your most precious trust. If your regular caregivers are not available, and it comes down to unfamiliar help, maybe it’s just not worth it. Can you reschedule the appointment for a time when your sitter can make it?
Sometimes, however, the answer is “yes” – it really is that important. Maybe it’s a work or family emergency, and you have no choice. So …
“B” is for “Best Bet”. Your best bet is always going to be your immediate circle of family and friends. Your social network. Perhaps a neighbor who you know well and trust. Go down through the list in your mind, or scroll through the names in your phone.
Still no luck? Okay …
“C” is for “Care4Hire”. If you’re in the USA, Care4Hire.com is a huge national database of babysitters, nannies, eldercare companions, housekeepers, tutors … even pet sitters! They’ve been in operation since 1987, and featured on Dr.Phil and Supernanny, as well as many media outlets.
But best of all, when you’re searching for a last minute babysitter on the Care4Hire site, you can read profiles detailing each candidate’s qualifications and experience, and instantly access online references and background checks. These are things you really need for peace of mind.
Okay, so you’ve found someone. Great!
Now you want to do everything in your power to make it a really good experience …
Getting Off to a Great Start with a Last Minute Babysitter
It’s understandable that bringing in an unfamiliar babysitter may not just cause YOU anxiety, but also your children, and the sitter too. We recommend that you take the following steps to prepare everyone for a smooth transition.
Steps to Prepare Your Kids
1. Talk Up the New Babysitter.
Your children will take their cue from you and how you’re feeling. If you sound confident, it will give them confidence too.
2. Help Your Kids Look Forward to Meeting their New Caregiver.
Show them a picture of the new sitter if you have one. Tell them anything that you learned while you were making the arrangements. Do they like to play one of your favorite board games? Can they do magic tricks? Ask the sitter for something the kids might love to know.
3. Enlist Your Kids to Play Host.
This is a great way to break the ice, and it also teaches your children good manners. Let them help to orient the new sitter. Have them lead a tour of the house and introduce any pets. They can explain their own bedtime routine (just make sure you’re in earshot for that, or bedtime may get extended!)
4. Make the First Time a Bit Extra-Special.
If you can, arrange a fun activity that your little ones love but don’t get to do very often. If it’s something the sitter can enjoy too, they’ll have a great time together. Here are a few ideas:
- Pull out some craft supplies. This will get your kids quickly interacting with the new sitter. They’ll enjoy showing off their creativity, and it will give them something to talk about together.
- Order your family’s favorite takeout. You don’t want to feed them pizza every night, but this might just be that time to make an exception. They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. It will also simplify one job for the new babysitter, while making the evening feel like a party.
- Rent a movie that both kids and adults love. It could be an old classic, like one of the Toy Story movies. Or better still, a brand-new release they haven’t seen yet.
Steps to Prepare Your New Babysitter
1. Ask Them to Arrive Early.
It’s absolutely worth paying them for an extra hour. This will give you plenty of time for the kids to get comfortable with them before you leave. We recommend you spend the first 15 to 30 minutes all together, and then excuse yourself to go and finish getting ready. This way you’ll be on hand in a nearby room while your kids and the new sitter are getting acquainted. (You’ll also have half an hour of peace to get dressed before heading out the door.)
2. Make Sure They Have All the Necessary Emergency Information.
Give your sitter a list of contact numbers to reach you or a close friend or neighbor. Go over any household rules and routines, and any limits on visitors or television viewing. If you have an alarm system, show them how it works.
3. DO Check-in With a Phone Call.
Maybe an hour after you leave, or right after the kids’ bedtime, call and make sure everything is going well. Your sitter will appreciate this if any questions have arisen. They may not want to interrupt your night by calling you, but if YOU call in they can ask.
4, Debrief When You Get Home.
Try to have a few minutes to sit down with your replacement sitter and talk in a relaxed manner. It can be so helpful to get their impressions of how everything went. And this is the time for you both to evaluate each other for the future.
It’s very likely that there are going to be those occasions when you have to find a last minute babysitter, and you don’t have the luxury of a lot of time and choice. But you can still do the important due diligence, you can prepare everyone to the best of your ability, and you can provide the caregiver with the support they need to do a great job.
In the process, you might just find a new babysitter who you can trust, and who gets on well with your kids. If so hang on to them! They are pure gold. You’ll be able to relax while you’re out, knowing the family is in good hands.
For Further Reading …
Read Our Post: What Is the Going Rate for Babysitting [Infographic]
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