You’ve made those dinner reservations and the babysitter will be over in 5 minutes. Time to tell the kids you’re leaving, right?
Even if your kids are veterans at staying with a babysitter, it’s best if you prepare them ahead of time. Here’s how, and why, you should prepare your kids for a babysitter:
It can be helpful for kids to assimilate new ideas over time. So, especially if your child has never stayed with a babysitter before, it’s good to give your child a heads up about the upcoming change. You can simply mention that someone will come to the house to take care of them in a few days. If your children already know the babysitter, go ahead and tell them who it is.
The day before the babysitter comes, remind your child that the babysitter will be coming the next day. At this point, you can talk about some of the things your child might enjoy doing with the babysitter. You might say, “Tomorrow (insert name) is going to come hang out with you while I’m gone. You can play blocks, color and play games! Then, (name) will help you get ready for bed.”
On the same day, remind your child again that the babysitter will arrive. This three step process will allow your child the time to get used to the idea of the babysitter while also giving them the chance to ask questions. Hopefully, if your child resists the idea the first time you mention it, they can warm up to the idea over the next few days.
During these conversations, it’s also important to set expectations with your child. Explain that the babysitter will be in charge and be able to help them with anything they need. Depending on your child’s temperament, you might go over any rules that you want to be sure they follow, or reassure them that it will be a fun experience to spend time with the babysitter.
Some parents try to wait until the child engages with the babysitter and then sneak out the door. This may seem wise in the moment, but it can backfire over time. It’s important to show your child that they can trust you. So, instead of sneaking out, tell your child goodbye with a quick hug and a kiss, assure your child that you’ll be back soon, and then head out the door. This will also show your child that you trust the babysitter and that you’re comfortable with the situation.
So, commit to suffering for a few minutes to set a precedent that will pay off in the future. Younger children may meltdown for a few minutes, but they’ll get over it quickly. Staying calm and saying a quick goodbye will help your child towards more painless goodbyes in the future.
With a small amount of effort on your part, you can make sure that your kids are prepared for the babysitter. This will not only make your babysitter’s life easier, but it will also be easier for your kids. So, make a mental note to warn your kids ahead of time next time you plan to use a babysitter and actively prepare for it!