Leaving your child with a babysitter can be stressful, no matter what age she is. It can be particularly difficult to leave a baby with somebody else, but it's important for parents to have some time out to relax. Grandparents often make great babysitters because they love their grandchildren and are mature and trustworthy. However, knowing this still might not reduce feelings of anxiety. Being well-prepared should help, however.
Prepare your child for babysitting time with her grandparents. If your child is old enough to understand, explain in advance what the arrangements are and what time you will be home. If you have a baby or toddler, separation or stranger anxiety may be an issue, even if she is familiar and comfortable with her grandparents. Ask the grandparents to arrive half an hour before you need to leave, to give your child time to get used to her caregiver in your presence. When it's time to go, give her a warm goodbye, but don't be tempted to linger, suggests the website What to Expect. If your little one is terribly upset when you leave, arrange to text or call her grandparents a little later.
Leave all relevant contact numbers with the grandparents, including cell and work phone numbers for you and your spouse. Also leave your pediatrician's number. Tell them where you will be and provide the location and phone number for the place. Write down anything they need to be aware of, such as the alarm code for your home, what the children are allowed to eat and drink in your absence and details about the child's usual bedtime routine.
Tackle any potential problems before they arise. The grandparents may be inclined to spoil your children, for example, by giving them sugary treats or letting them stay up past their normal bedtime. Family expert Amy Goyer suggests reaching a compromise with grandparents, who are likely to do this, provided it is still an arrangement you are happy with. For example, make it clear to the grandparents that usual bedtime is 7.30 pm, but tell them that as a special treat the children can stay up until 8 pm. The key is to avoid confrontation and ensure that all parties are happy with the plans.
Ask the grandparents if they have any specific concerns about babysitting themselves and encourage them to be honest. They may be anxious about getting your toddler to sleep or feel unsure about how best to deal with your pre-teen daughter's mood swings. By talking things through in advance, discussing the best solutions and sharing your experiences, everybody should feel more relaxed. Remember, they were once parents of young children, too.
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