In college and for a few years after, I did a lot of babysitting to supplement my (low) income. Since I was over 22 and had my own vehicle, I quickly became a hot commodity in my sisters’ circles of friends, and had a fairly steady stream of overnights, weekends, and even a few weeks where I would watch kids while the parents were away. I learned a lot about what helped and didn’t as the sitter, and over time, kind of came into a few specific requests that seemed to really work out well. We’re going on a trip next week (first time without the kids) and one of my nieces will be staying with the kids- so the table has turned, so to speak.
How to Prep Your Overnight Babysitter
1. Emergency Medical Information
Write a letter to whom it may concern and give the sitter permission to obtain medical treatment for your child(ren). Sign and date it. Include a copy of both sides of their insurance card(s) and tuck them into an envelope. Seal this envelope, label it “In case of medical need” and hang it in a conspicuous place on the fridge. Will they need it? Likely not. But if something were to happen, it’s right there, an easy grab on the way out the door. No looking, no searching. While I’m confident most facilities would treat a child with an emergency, if there’s any way it could be a smoother process, wouldn’t you want to have the info at hand?
2. Write down ALL allergies, sensitivities and food issues.
This can go into the letter with the medical consent, but it’s also to help remind your chosen caregiver what your kid(s) can/cannot eat, drink, etc. Maybe you’re reading this thinking I’m crazy because who in their right mind would hire someone who doesn’t already know their kids well enough to know that information? But honestly? People forget. We’re human. We have good friends and their daughter cannot have peas, she’s very allergic. And yet every year I offer her sugar snap peas from my garden somehow (hoping this is the year I don’t…) and she laughs at me and reminds me she cannot have them. It’s not really funny though, but I KNOW her and sometimes, when it’s not something you live with day to day, it’s easy to forget or have things slip your mind. Better safe than sorry.
Plus, if you have a kid who really cannot have any sugar past 6pm because they’ll be bouncing off the walls for the next four hours, that’s probably something you want to make sure a caregiver is fully aware of. They might think they’re being nice giving a special treat during a movie and end up not knowing what is going on!
3. Places to go
If your kids are of school age, or have activities at certain times or places, have them all written down for your sitter. No one knows your routine like you do, and it’s just easier for all if you write it down. Even if they’ve been there once or twice with you on a previous occasion, give the address and name.
Friday: Kids get up for school about 7. All need breakfast, a snack to pack for school, and since it’s pizza on Fridays, they’ll all want to buy hot lunch (Make a note if they’ll need to send lunch money in). Kids need to be out the door waiting for the bus by 8:12.
Kids are done school at 3:25. Bus will drop them off between 3:40 and 3:50 and the bus driver needs to see you before she’ll let them off the bus.
Kid 1 has a baseball game at 5:30, his Coach will pick him up at 5:15. His cell number is 111-222-3333 and his name is Coach Lastname. Please be sure kid 1 has baseball gear, a full water bottle, and his hat. The coach will bring him home after the game, and they usually last about 90 minutes. (This way, they can know about when to expect your child to be dropped off, or know when to pick them up)
Kid 2 has tball from 10-1130 at the Grassy Park at 123 Street Name. She’ll need her glove, hat, team shirt and water bottle. Please be sure to put sunscreen on her as there’s no shade. My friend Sue will pick her up at 9:45 and drop her off after the game ends. Her number is 234-567-8910. She did mention she may have Kid 2 over for a playdate after practice but she will call and update you.
Monday: School day: up at 7, same as Friday morning schedule. Kids are a pickup on Mondays, so you will need to arrive at the school parking lot by 3:15 and head in to sign them out. The school address is (address here). You’ll head right over to gymnastics, which is at (gymnastics address). Kid 2 has her class at 3:55 and Kid 1 has his at 4:30. He can do homework before his class and she can work on hers when hers is finished. Kid 3 will work on homework or hang out with other siblings.
It’s nice to also include the address of your school or activity so that just in case something changes, your sitter knows exactly where to be and when.
If it’s your first time or your twentieth time, you being away for a few days or even a week can be upsetting for your kids, no matter what age they are. Give your caregiver some guidance as to what helps calm your child or comfort them… again, even if it’s a family member coming to stay, they likely haven’t lived in your home before, and may not know everything about your child(ren). Taking a few minutes to get that down on paper could be the difference between a really tough day for your kid and for your sitter vs. a sort of rough day that may turn out ok.
Don’t leave a sitter with no funds. It doesn’t mean they have to keep all of your money, but money for incidentals, take out, delivery or even just gas money is good to leave. Also just in case of emergency money is nice….for a copay, etc. I would not want to put someone in the position of having to pay out of their own pocket for something for my child like that, so I’d prefer to leave a caregiver with money.
What we are planning to do is to add funds to a Kaiku prepaid card to leave for my niece. We can load it with, say, $300 and that way, we know that if anything comes up, or she is not wanting to cook or things get hectic (it happens!!) she has money to use. This way, there’s no risk of cash being misplaced, she can tuck it right into her wallet, and if need be, I can actually add more funds remotely if need be. It can also double as a way for her to manage funds.
With the Kaiku Prepaid card, there are no activation fees, usage fees, card declined fees and currency conversion fees. You sign up, choose your card color (I went as close to pink as I was able to) and once it arrives in your mailbox, you activate and add funds. Easy, peasy. I can leave a sum of money that’s safe and secure for use while we’re away, and know that if something comes up that my caregiver has access to a way to pay for it. THERE ARE NO ACTIVATION FEES, NO CARD DECLINED FEES, AND NO CURRENCY CONVERSION FEES…so you know up front what will be covered and what won’t.
Plus, she can keep it to use afterwards, or we can continue to use it if we want for our own use. It’s a great tool for younger (and older) folks to learn a bit about money management and how credit cards work- although there’s not a credit limit, because you’ve prepaid. So if you try to overspend, your card won’t work- but you’re not building debt. It’s, in my opinion, a great way to start teaching about how to use a credit card and be mindful of spending. Snapping a photo of a paycheck and uploading to Kaiku’s app is how easy adding funds is to this card.
THE KAIKU CARD OFFERS SIMPLICITY. There are only two fees: a low monthly maintenance fee and an out-of-network ATM fee. If you avoid out-of-network ATMS then it’s just $3 a month – and that’s easy to do, since this card may be used at any of the 55,000 Allpoint surcharge-free ATMs worldwide.
Just a note- if you are using Kaiku to help teach your kids about how to manage money, there’s a cool new feature to the Kaiku mobile app the “Funds-ometer,” which simply tracks card users’ spending and compares it to their average over the past 60 days in non-essential categories, like eating out and entertainment. Over time, you can start to see your spending habits and learn from that information as the parent of a card user, or even for yourself (I wonder what would show for coffee stops while I’m doing errands…or maybe I’m better not knowing!!)
Leaving your kid(s) with an overnight babysitter isn’t for all of us. And that’s ok. But for those of us who find that we need to or just want to (and that’s ok too!), taking some time to follow these steps can help you to make sure that everyone knows where and when they need to be, and that they have assistance should an emergency arise.
Thank you to Kaiku for inspiring this post with the fabulous Unicorn Pink card sent. Opinions are my own.