How to prepare for backup child care
Despite all your planning, things come up and schedules change. And that includes child care. If your regular nanny can't make it, your child is home sick or school is closed, you need backup care.
Be prepared and help the day go smoothly for your child and the caregiver by assembling these items ahead of time — just in case. Organize them in a folder so they're handy. You'll be able to head off to work knowing that your child is in good, knowledgeable hands.
1. A list of backup caregivers
Where do you go if you need someone to watch your child at the last minute? Create a list of names and phone numbers of at least three people or places — friends, families, nannies, day cares, etc. — who can watch your child when your usual solution falls through.
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2. Contact information
Prepare a list for your sitter or day care center of important numbers, such as your cell phone number, work number, pediatrician's number and numbers of other family members or close friends.
3. A plan for keeping in touch
How should you and your backup sitter stay connected throughout the day? Do you just want to chat during your lunch break at work or do you expect regular text messages? Make sure you both are on the same page.
4. Your child's medical information
A backup caregiver isn't as familiar with your child's health information. Make a list of your child's allergies, medical concerns or medication schedule, if necessary. List where to find both prescription and over-the-counter remedies in your home, and keep a copy of any medical records that might be needed in the unlikely event your child needs medical attention while you're at work. Print out this child care emergency checklist to get you started. If your child is home sick, what special medicine or care should your caregiver provide?
5. A list of addresses
Give your backup the lay of the land. Create a list of important addresses, like your child's school or day care, your pediatrician, local libraries and museums, nearby parks and any extracurricular activities like sport practices, piano lessons or tutors.
6. Typical routines
Give an example of a typical day for your children. What do mornings look like? What do your kids like to do? Will they need help with homework? Do they need help with things like getting shoes on the correct feet? If your backup is staying late or overnight, don't forget to add details about your child's normal bedtime routine. Ask your regular nanny to help brainstorm ideas.
7. Rules of the house
You may not have time — or remember – to share these dos and don'ts with the caregiver. Make up a list so you keep them all straight. Add items like how much television kids can watch, what snacks are allowed, no pets on the couch, no social media, etc. Make a note if any of these things change if kids are sick — is a little extra TV time is OK?
8. Safety issues
This is another item for your folder, but it helps to go over it quickly with the backup caregiver. Does your child have a habit of sneaking outside? Can he or she navigate stairs yet? Does he or she tend to go in rooms that are not "child-proofed" or are otherwise off limits to kids? Does the back door stick? Does the dog next door bite? These are all things the caregiver should know ahead of time to be prepared.
9. Your child's favorites
Let your sitter know what your child likes so they can keep them entertained while you're away. Many kids have a hard time coping with change, even if your backup nanny is cooler than Spider-Man. You know what keeps your child happy, so keep a list of your child's favorite stuffed animals, movies, books, snacks, etc. It will help give your little one a sense of normalcy and help him stay calm and happy while you're not at home.
10. An emergency "fun bag"
Having a "secret" stash of coloring books, games, music and special treats tucked away for the kids can be helpful. This is a great thing to share with a last-minute caregiver to help her entertain your child.
While life — and kids — can be unpredictable, these tips will ensure you and your backup help are as prepared as can be should something unexpected arise.