How to Make it Easy for Someone to Watch your Kids

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!)

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  1. Ahh, lowering my expectations is the hard part for me…

  2. i have gone away from my daughter a couple of times and seem to do pretty good. its nice to have a checklist like this in the future!

  3. As someone who does a lot of babysitting so that couples can go on dates . . . .

    It is VERY helpful if parents let the caregiver know the ROUTINE FOR DISCIPLE.

    Do you count to 3? Use a time out spot or special time out corner? Is it ok for me to spank them or this is not ok no matter what?

    I totally agree that the more info I’m given the better. It is also REALLY NICE if the parents have planned a SPECIAL TREAT that I can use as a “bribe” . . . a toy that often doesn’t get played with or a video after bath time even though the family usually limits tv time, even adding m&ms to popcorn or being allowed to eat a snack outside. These little treats make it a bit easier on the babysitter to know how to “reward” your children in a way you approve of.

  4. So true! My mom is watching my 2 girls this upcoming weekend while I have a get-a-way to relax kidless with 4 college girlfriends, and I had on my things to do list tomorrow to type up something along these lines for her. I know she’ll be grateful, as i am that she’s watching them for me :>

  5. I had my mom watch my son for 3 weeks last summer, boy did THAT take a lot of planning!!!

  6. Thanks for posting this. We haven’t had anyone care for our children in about five years, but we will be leaving them with someone on Monday when we leave for the hospital. It’s nice to have a list of the important things to remember.

  7. I rarely leave the kiddos, but this is a wonderful and complete list for the times that I do. Thanks!

    Love your site. Subscribing to your feed. 😉

  8. Oh yes PLEASE remember the medical consent form! My mother watches my nieces when my sister and her husband go on vacation. One of my nieces had an ear infection during one stay, and my mother needed to take her to the doctor. Much easier with written permission!

  9. I try to always have a “family command center” binder. It contains each childs schedules and best friends phone numbers. It also has tons of contact info – school, church, neighbors, dr.s and take out menus. We use it all the time. Dad finds it especially helpful when he returns from deployments as he can get back up to speed quickly (and order a pizza while he is there!).

    It has especially served us well in emergencies – when Dad is deployed and I am unable to care for the children. You don’t expect it to happen but if you have a plan at least you can focus on getting better not what you forgot to tell your friends!

  10. Very extensive list, I’m impressed! There are some great things for me to learn here. And oh how I would love a night away! 😀

  11. Thanks. I’ll be using some of these tips. 😉

  12. Great ideas. I know that my mom really appreciated a list of what they could and couldn’t watch. She also like a list of my toddler’s “baby language” so that she could understand what he was saying or asking for.

  13. Lisa@blessedwithgrace says:

    Great tips. Hope you and hubby can have a great time together….ALONE!!

  14. Congrats on getting away!! When I read your post “I’m going to HEAV”… I guess b/c I’m from Ohio, that I thought you were telling us that you either had the swine flu or were pregnant again (as in “heave”… morning sickness…) I’m glad that you are actually going to a destination called HEAV. 🙂 Yes… I totally agree with you!! My last pregnancy prompted me to type out extensively how to take care of my kids (what they typically eat at breakfast, lunch, etc. and where all these things are located in the kitchen). I also included a page (yes… it’s a booklet that is hooked onto the side of the frig… ) but there is even a page that I titled “Help! We’re Bored!” with ideas on WHAT to do with my kids if you can’t think of anything on your own… I decided that it is helpful to have a “anyone can watch my kids in a pinch with these instructions” thing. And I think it helps tremendously. I also have a phone chart taped ONTO the frig with all the phone numbers BUT ALSO the children’s date of births b/c if they should have to call the pediatrician, THEY ALWAYS ask for date of birth…
    Anyway… Love the idea, Love that you are getting away… ENJOY and PLEASE oh PLEASE share some of the wisdom gleaned from HEAVing… ahem.

  15. I just had to check out your site when I saw your cute headline. We are a one-income family – thriving in a two income world too. Enjoyed my visit on your blog – I’ve got to check out the swagbucks thing!

  16. Abigail Thomas says:

    And please leave your overnight babysitter information about your alarm system, including any passwords or information to give the call center in case you have inadvertently (or the 10 year old who helpfully set the alarm) set off the alarm.

    Thank you for this list, from someone who hopes to have children to leave someday but spends the meanwhile sitting for other people so that they can leave theirs!

  17. I linked to this post. Check it out!

  18. GREAT ideas! And it’s good to get away.


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