You have coordinated your babysitter’s estimated arrival time, found the baby monitor, prepared a microwaveable meal, and conspicuously posted a polite “Don’t even think about doing these things while you are watching my children” note next to the cheese puffs on the kitchen counter.
“Call my cell if you need me,” you say as you head out the door. However, does your babysitter really know what to do in case of an emergency?
In order to enjoy your evening away, post the following list on the other side of the cheese puffs:
1. 911 or the emergency contact number in your area
This might seem obvious, but it is important to discuss nonetheless. Be sure to specify what necessitates a call to 911. Things like uncontrollable bleeding, someone who is not breathing, or someone who is nonresponsive are all emergencies. Things like the family’s lost cat or little Trevor’s lost tooth are not.
2. Both parents’ cell phone numbers
In the event that one parent’s phone is turned off or unreachable, provide both parents’ numbers. Consider including an address or addresses of where you will be for the evening. This is also the perfect segue for a pleasant and loving discussion with your older children about why you would rather not have them call 12 times about things they cannot find or to give you a minute-by-minute log of the dealings at home.
3. Names, phone numbers, and addresses of extended family
If you are lucky enough to have extended family living close by, these are the people that are most familiar with your children, your schedule, and the day-to-day intricacies of your life. If there is an emergency, and you cannot assist immediately, relatives can provide a calming stability for your children until you arrive.
4. Names, phone numbers, and addresses of trusted neighbors
This is valuable information whether or not you have extended family nearby. Talk with neighbors beforehand and confirm that they are willing to be on your emergency contact list. Make sure that the neighbors you choose are people that your children know well and with whom they feel comfortable. In the event that one of these neighbors needs to drive your child to the hospital, it will be much less traumatic for all involved if they have a pleasant and familiar relationship.
5. Name and phone number of a friend or relative living out-of-state
In the case of an extreme emergency such as a natural disaster, local telephone lines may become jammed, making it impossible to contact loved ones in your immediate area. Designate a contact person that lives out-of-state to receive information about the well-being of your family members.
For many parents, leaving children with a babysitter can be a stressful situation. We tend to worry too much and prepare too little. Follow these five suggestions and the only things you will have left to do are clean the house before the babysitter arrives, feed the baby, and try to find your left shoe.
Heidi Dunkley is the mother of six children and can be found driving to swim/football/basketball practice in the afternoons, doing laundry in the mornings, and ninja-like freelance writing late into the night.