This weekend my husband and I are attending the HEAV convention in Richmond, Virginia. Since we don’t live in Richmond, my mother-in-law is staying at our house to watch the children. Taking care of kids while the parents are away is a tough job, but you can show your appreciation by making it as easy as possible for someone to watch your children.
Here are some tips, a few might be very obvious, but you never know.
Leave your contact information. Cell phone, hotel information, schedule, anything that would help your caregiver get a hold of you whether it be an emergency or just a simple question.
Leave local contact information. While you might have your address and home phone number memorized, your caregiver probably does not. Leaving this information along with the names and numbers of neighbors or close friends will be very helpful in case of an emergency.
Create a schedule that details your children’s day. Do they take naps or watch a specific show at a certain time? Creating a schedule will help your caregiver keep your child in a routine.
Leave a stocked fridge and pantry. I always have meals in the freezer and lots of breakfast and lunch options when I go out of town. This gives your care giver one less thing to worry about while you are gone. You do not want your caregiver to have to haul your 4 kids to the store because you only bought enough milk for 2 days and you are gone for 3.
Speaking of leaving, leave any car seats your children might need and make sure your caregiver knows how to use them. While it is probably unlikely that they will be going anywhere, you don’t want your children improperly buckled or put into the car without their seat.
Leave a Child Medical Consent Form for each child. If you google the words “child medical consent form” you will find tons of options. Some are free, I am not an expert in this area, but it is important that your caregiver has your consent to seek medical treatment for your child in case of an emergency.
Leave a list of guidelines. Are your children allowed to watch television, when is bedtime, can they play outside without supervision? If your caregiver is not familiar with your daily routine this will make watching your kids much easier for them. A list of guidelines means you are setting the rules, not the caregiver and it decreases conflict while you are away.
Leave a clean home and clean laundry. If you leave a mess you will most likely come home to a bigger mess. If you leave a clean house, you will most likely come home to a moderately clean house. Don’t expect your caregiver to clean up a mess you made three days earlier. Clean laundry ensures that everyone will have enough clothes while you are away and no one needs to do laundry while you are gone.
Leave cash. It is always nice to leave some cash for the caregiver to use in case they do need to run to the store, pay the yard guy, or order a pizza because the oven broke in the middle of dinner.
Lower your expectations. It is okay if your caregiver does things a little bit differently than you do. The kids might stay up a few minutes past their bedtimes or get a little dessert after dinner, accept it. ( I am not talking about a caregiver that provides regular care for your children) If you are like me, there are two reasons you have someone watching your children, either you are in labor or at a homeschool convention. So, cut your caregiver some slack and remember that your kids will survive even if they eat hot dogs for lunch and dinner while you are gone.
Note: This post applies to planned getaways. I realize there will be emergencies in which you will not be able to do many of these things. In those situations I am always thankful to those who have been able and willing to help out with the kids, whether it be for a few hours, or several weeks. (Thanks Mom!)