Summer is the perfect season for date night or day trips away from the little one. But leaving a child with a babysitter or a caregiver is stressful, especially for me.
I know that Jai is in good hands and have little concern over the caregiver’s ability, but I worry about his current separation anxiety stage and the stress he might cause the caregiver.
Every time we come back, the answer is pretty much the same: he may have fussed for a few minutes after we walked out the door, but forgot all about us in favor of the fun times. I don’t know why I worried in the first place, but it happens every time.
When I was younger, babysitting was one of my first jobs and I took it seriously.
I attended babysitting prep classes, had a book of all the important CPR/First Aid information I would need in case of an emergency, and my rates per child. I really appreciated it when the parents left me with a ton of information relating to the child’s needs because it took a lot of the guesswork out of various scenarios. There was never an issue, but I love to be prepared regardless.
The Information Book
Now that I am on the other side of babysitting, I wanted to create a thorough care booklet for Jai, but easy to update as he got older. I searched online to see what they had to offer for printables. I liked a lot of them, but they never had all that I wanted. So I sat down and put together my own booklet that I can easily maintain and print.
The goal of the book is to anticipate the important scenarios and something the caregiver can bring with them in case of an emergency. I made sure to include all the important information for the ER or pediatrician’s office to save on time.
What’s in the Book
I used a simple 3-ring binder with interior pockets to add any additional paperwork that might be useful for the caregiver. Using tab dividers, I broke up each section to make it easy to find based on activity/concept. I have numbered each item in the order they appear in Jai’s booklet; each number represents a new tabbed section.
- Emergency contact information:
- Preferred children’s ER (for non-ambulance emergencies). This includes the address, cross-streets for easy identification, and phone number.
- Pediatrician’s office, pediatrician’s name, address, and phone number.
- Child vital information. This includes full name, date of birth, current weight, medical conditions, and known allergies.
- Insurance information. This includes the company name, group #, ID#, Primary holder’s name, co-pay & ER costs. While this is sensitive information, it’s meant to provide our insurance if it isn’t on file at the medical facility.
- Home address with nearest cross-street (to help direct emergency services).
- Mom & Dad important information. This includes all important phone numbers and work information.
- Additional emergency contacts (i.e. grandparents, trusted relatives & friends)
- Outing information: I laminated this page so could use dry erase markers & wet-wipes to change the information for the current outing. It includes the following –
- Who, what, when, where
- Phone of the primary location we will be at (if they can’t reach us by cell phone)
- How best to contact us (text or call)
- How long we plan to be out and our estimated time back home
- Notes section for any additional important information that might change from day-to-day
- 2a. Activity information: I laminated this page as well. This is where the caregiver will enter any of their notes. I originally made this when Jai was a newborn, so it was important to have certain information that is no longer necessary now – but I am including my original notes –
- Diaper changes. This included the amount and the type of diaper (wet or dirty)
- Feedings/Food and what he consumed (breastmilk, formula, solids)
- Activities with his duration (sleeping, awake, play)
- Mood/disposition. How he handled the time away from us.
- Calendar: This was a simple 3-ring calendar I picked up from an office supply store. The purpose is to keep it relatively up-to-date with any appointment information. This would be a stripped down calendar containing only Jai’s medical ones.
- Daily schedule: Not a strict schedule but provided time ranges from the approximate time he woke up to when we put him to bed. It would break down each of his activities, the time frame it was accomplished and any important notes the caregiver might need. These notes included information such as –
- Where to put or find specific items
- Favorite toys
- Words or language clues
- How to best prepare meals or snacks, the best foods to use if it isn’t already set aside, and what to do if he rejects anything
- Nighttime routine: I kept this separate because it was its own thing. I broke down each part of the routine and provided note alternatives if the caregiver needed to make adjustments.
- Supplemental information: This contains basic “how-tos” of the most important things for Jai’s care. How to aspirate his nose, playtime, reheating food, favorite current books, toys, and tired, hunger, or tantrum signs and what to do for each possible scenario
In the interior pockets of the binder, I put information cards for some of the basic equipment we used when Jai was a baby and any other important toy information that his caregiver might need.
To help you set up your own babysitting information books, you can download my blank template here.
Special Activities & Treats
When I was a child, my parents always bought me a kid’s TV dinner as a treat for when they went out. Looking back now, these dinners weren’t that special, but as a kid, it was about the novelty. It was something I couldn’t get normally.
As Jai gets older, I plan to do something similar for him: pizza, special dinner or dessert, or some request he might have for something he doesn’t normally get. It will help with the distraction so when we leave, he’ll be busy doing something fun and it gives him something to look forward to when it’s time for us to head out.
He’s at an age where it’s hard to tell him that we will be leaving for a date more than a few hours in advance, but once he’s old enough to understand, we will prepare him by letting him know a few days ahead of time. We don’t want to surprise him or spring it on him but respect his personhood and need to know what is happening.
Additionally, there is something to be said for loosening the rules when we leave for our date. Expecting business as usual with the caregiver regarding rules and expectations is a bit unreasonable. If he gets to bed a little later or gets to eat something he normally doesn’t have at home, then it is okay. Small transgressions (provided they don’t hurt someone bodily or put himself in danger) can also be allowed under the proviso that this is not normal.
I do find that Jai behaves really well for people who aren’t Ash or myself which I think is relatively standard for children. He knows that while he can’t get away with bad behavior with mom or dad per se, he is freer to misbehave around us because he can be himself without fear of judgment or rejection. It means we’ve successfully created a safe space for him to practice his boundaries and grow. People other than ourselves are less “safe” and therefore he wants to behave as he is expected.
Prep for the Sitter
Getting the kid ready for the sitter, helps as does getting the house and common areas as well. What this means is pulling aside favorite foods, books, and toys in an easy-to-find location so the caregiver doesn’t need to hunt for a lovey or movie.
Getting the space relatively clear of clutter helps as well. It gives everyone plenty of room to play and interact without worrying about tripping over items. When I was a sitter, I always tried to leave the space even cleaner than when I arrived. Not that I expect the same from my caregivers, but if they are like me, it gives them less work to do.
We also make sure to provide for the caregiver after Jai goes to sleep. We created a list of instructions for how to use our entertainment system, special drinks and foods that they can help themselves to and a stack of local delivery menus in case they want to order dinner (if they are willing, we pay for whatever they order, but they tend to say “no” or bring their own food).
When I feel like everything is prepped from Jai to the caregiver, from the house to ourselves, that I am able to have a better time out and away from the little one. While I can’t account for every possibility, working to make the life of the caregiver who is making my life easier by giving me a much-needed break, keeps everyone calm and collected during the times we go away.
What do you do when you have a babysitter for your little one? What are some special tips or tricks you’ve found worked best for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Like this post? Make sure to follow me on your favorite social media platform and show some love by sharing it. Links found below.
Featured photo credit: Shutterstock