It happens at different times and for different reasons in every family, but there will come a point when you’ll either need or want to leave your baby in the care of someone else. And if you’re like most parents, you’ll feel a combination of fear (what if something goes wrong?), anxiety (did you leave instructions and supplies for every situation?), and excitement (if this goes well, you’ll look forward to more baby-free experiences).
Look at this as a growth step for both you and your child: You’re learning that others are capable of giving your baby the short-term care they need, and your child is learning to accept that care from someone other than a parent. Preparation can go a long way toward making sure things go smoothly for both of you. Here are some ways to make sure you not only survive this milestone, but thrive during your time away from your little bubs.
1. Find Someone You Really Trust
This may seem obvious, but the message here is to trust your gut—without being influenced by anyone else. If your best friend has a teenager they swear is responsible and experienced but their young age just makes you a little nervous, then don’t hire the teen just yet. If a neighbour recommends a more mature babysitter but you cringed once when you spotted that sitter pushing a stroller while scrolling on their phone, it’s ok to thank them for the recommendation and move on. As the parent, your opinion (and your partner’s) is the only one that counts.
2. Type Up a Babysitter Instructions Doc
A few days beforehand, type up a doc with organised, detailed instructions for the babysitter. Not sure what info to leave the babysitter? Leave the doc open, so that every time you remember something else—their favourite bathtime song! the location of extra tins of Bubs formula!—you can add it to the instructions. By the time you’re ready for the caretaker handoff, you can hit “print” knowing that you’ve included absolutely everything the sitter needs for a successful experience.
3.Create a (Tiny) New Ritual for Both of You
Honour this transition by creating a small ritual you can do every time you leave your child in someone else’s care. You might try reciting a simple little rhyme: “Be back soon, love you to the moon!” Or give them a special “while I’m gone” blanket or plushie to snuggle until you return. As your infant turns into a toddler and then a school-aged kid, this quick goodbye tradition will be something you both treasure.
4. Enable Notifications on Your Devices
Take your phone and watch off “silent” mode, and add vibrate notifications too, while you’re at it. (Obviously, if you’re at a concert or other performance, you’ll need to observe any silencing requests.) You may not hear from the sitter at all, but just knowing that if they reach out, you’ll definitely hear it immediately, can go a long way toward easing those away-from-baby jitters.
5. Make Time to Miss Them
Whether you’re headed to work, out with friends, or on a date with your partner, take a moment to actively miss your baby if you need to. Pull out your phone to watch a quick video at your desk, pass around an especially cute pic, or bring it up over dinner. Acknowledging your feelings, rather than spending energy trying to ignore them, may allow you to feel more present where you are now.
6.Check in With Yourself Once You’re Home
Chances are, all those nerves you felt before leaving your baby with a babysitter will disappear by the time you get home. Once you check in on your little one, check in with yourself—and make a note (in your notes app, in a journal, or even on a sticky) about how you’re feeling now, what the experience was like, and whether you’re feeling more comfortable about letting a sitter watch your child again. Then, before you leave the house without baby next time, you can re-read your notes and feel reassured that you will both survive and thrive during this temporary separation with the support of this babysitter checklist.
It’s completely normal to feel nervous about leaving your little one in the care of someone else, especially if it’s for the first time. To help you feel more prepared, use this babysitter checklist and ensure you have all the necessary information noted down to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.