Bringing a new sitter into the family can be a stressful time for children. They may worry about being made to go to bed at the wrong time or whether the new sitter will be stricter about screen time. Or they may just be shy about meeting new people!
Follow these 10 steps to make sure the transition between caregivers goes smoothly for you, your new sitter and your kids.
1. Give Your Kids Time
Your kids will need time to prepare for a new sitter. So don’t wait until the last moment to tell them that a new sitter will be looking after them. On the flip side, others may get anxious if you tell them too far in advance. Get kids excited about having someone new; have the new sitter arrive early so your kids can get acquainted with them while Mom and/or Dad are there.
2. Let Your Children Feel in Control
Many kids are more receptive to change when they feel in control. Let your child show the new sitter around the house. If they have a younger sibling, let your child tell your new sitter how to care for him or her.
3. Keep Your Kids Involved
Understand that your children may be upset or anxious and explain it’s also a new situation for the sitter. Everyone is nervous and that’s okay. Seek your child’s recommendations on how to make the new sitter comfortable. They can ask the sitter what she likes to do for fun or what her favourite food is.
4. Encourage People Safety Skills
One of the biggest fears parents face is the prospect of their child falling victim to sex abuse. Tell your child that any time anyone makes them feel uncomfortable, they should tell you – even if they have been told to keep it a secret. Here are a few things to discuss:
- Talk to children about appropriate touching, teasing and playing
- Discuss how to set boundaries
- Let children know what to do and how to get help
5. Be Safety Ready
Talk about safety when there isn’t an emergency – when things are calm and questions can be answered. If your kids don’t already know about calling 911, this is the time to talk about it. Make them memorize your phone numbers and home address, and who to contact if you can’t reach Mom or Dad.
6. Be Clear On House Rules
Set boundaries with your child about how they are expected to behave when the new nanny or sitter is there. Maybe have your child explain the rules to the sitter while you’re present, so everyone has the same understanding of acceptable behaviour. Examples of things to discuss include:
- Bedtime routine
- Rules for screen time
- How to get along with siblings
- Never opening the door to strangers
- When and where homework should be done
- Rewards and consequences for good or bad behaviour
7. Explain Expectations
Make sure your babysitter or nanny understands your expectations, and then explain those rules to your children. If your child understands what the sitter’s job is, your child will know how they are supposed to behave.
8. Organize Activities
One of the main causes for kids misbehaving is boredom. You and/or the sitter should plan special and fun activities, like games, art projects and snacks to create.
9. Be Reassuring
Your child will feel more secure knowing you’re only a phone call away, too. Offer to call to check in. Be sure to tell them when you plan to return and that you’ll call if you’re running late.
10. Request a Progress Report
After the nanny leaves, tell your child you want to hear all about how it went. Ask them about what they did, what they liked or disliked and if the sitter should come back. If your child wasn’t happy, ask them to explain what specifically made them uncomfortable, so you can be aware if there was a serious issue while you were gone. Here are 5 Steps to Take if Your Child Dislikes the Nanny.