Whether you have an infant with attachment or an adolescent with attitude, introducing kids to a new caregiver can be trying for the children, the babysitter, and you as a parent.
The best way to prepare your kids for this change is to plan ahead. Don’t have the new babysitter make his or her first arrival at your home five minutes before you’re planning to leave for an important event. You’ll be rushing around getting ready as well as giving last-minute information to the babysitter, and the short transition period will not make for an easy good-bye. Abrupt change-overs leave children feeling out of sorts and anxious, and babysitters a bit nervous. By doing as much prep as possible before bringing the sitter to “go live” on an actual job, everyone will feel more comfortable.
Even if you haven’t already found a new sitter, your first step should be to sit down and make a general information sheet for any babysitter to use. This could include:
- Your physical address, email address, home phone, work phone, and cell phone
- Neighbors, relatives, and/or emergency contacts
- A short note on each child (name, age, school grade, likes and dislikes, health conditions, behavioral problems, bedtimes, etc.)
You probably will have gone over many of these things during the interview process, but email this list to your new babysitter anyway so that all of it is written down and in one place. That way, there is far less possibility for potential misunderstandings or “I didn’t know” situations to arise. The babysitter will have time to review the sheet thoroughly, think about it, and contact you with any questions or concerns that haven’t already been addressed in your previous communications.
Ideally, the next step would be to invite the babysitter over for a short working visit (paid, of course). You might spend a half an hour together with the children, observing them playing while talking and interacting. This will alert you to how the children will receive the new babysitter. You will have time to talk with the children about who this person is and how often she will be watching them. The babysitter can introduce herself and ask questions of each child. You can also do a tour of your home at this time, which will make the babysitter feel more at ease during the first job. Then you might leave to go for a walk, take an exercise class, or go grocery shopping; just a short excursion, no more than an hour, which will give the babysitter a chance to interact with your children on her own. When you return, you can talk with the children and the babysitter about what they did while you were gone and see if there were any problems that needed to be resolved.
When the babysitter does show up for the first job, have her arrive at least fifteen minutes ahead of your departure time. It may cost a few dollars more, but it will let you finish getting ready without worrying about the kids, and you and the babysitter will have time to address any last-minute concerns.
This may seem like a lot of work up front, but it will surely minimize your headaches later. A couple of hours is all it takes to make your children feel secure and happy with their new babysitter.