Babysitting: 10 Basic Tips for Grandparents and Others
For the Love of Grandchildren
We all love our kids, and when we are fortunate to become grandparents, we simply adore our grandchildren. It's only natural, right? Of course, it is! So when we are given trust and the privilege of being asked to babysit them for a night or two we feel both humbled and excited. But what about ten days? Especially when it involves four boys 10,9, 3 and 18 months. That certainly becomes more like a challenge, especially if your youngest son is now 28 and moved out of home ten years ago.
Anyway, not being ones to shirk our responsibilities as caring grandparents, my wife Kathy and I recently took on just such a task while our son and daughter in law went to Fiji to attend a relative's wedding. Well, this certainly was a challenge but the ten days is up tomorrow and we have got through it (touch wood) virtually unscathed.
Here are some tips we have learned along the way. I hope they are helpful to other less experienced grandparents and babysitters.
Babysitting: 10 Basic Tips for Grandparents and Others
1. Count the number of kids you will be looking after. Memorize their names if need be. There is nothing worse than misplacing one. Most returning parents are not impressed to learn Tommy went missing while they were away.
2. Make sure the refrigerator and pantry cupboard are stacked with foods the kids like to eat. Be sure that you ask the parents to buy the food or give you a list because what the kids say they like and what they are actually allowed to eat are often two different things.
3. Obtain recipes or instructions on how to prepare their favourite meals. I know grandma knows best in regard to cooking, but if they have become used to food being prepared a certain way you will soon get sick of hearing, "That's not how mommy makes it," or "That's yucky."
4. Ensure you are left with a detailed list of instructions: daily chores, routines i.e. bed and bath time, coming events, sports days etc. The last thing you want is to be accused of having disrupted the family routine. 4.a. In regard to daily chores. If you aren't provided with a detailed list, for Heaven's sake, don't ask each child what tasks they are personally required to do each day. Ask their brother or sister (if they are old enough) for a fairer guide, or you'll be told the bare minimum. They hate to think their sibling may be getting out of work and they aren't. Believe me, I am speaking from the experience of babysitting 10 and 9-year-old brothers. 4.b. When you first arrive to do the babysitting all the children will try to test you out and see how far they can push the boundaries. This is where the detailed list provided by their parents comes into its own.
5. Make sure there is a sufficient supply of children's Panadol, cough mixture, Bandaids etc as there always seems to be at least one child in the family with a cold or falling over and getting a scrape. If there are babies and toddlers you also need a stockpile of nappies (diapers). Believe me, you can't have too many.
I don't want to go to Day Care— Jordan - 3-years-old
6. Leave the TV turned on most of the day on a dedicated children's channel, or have lots of kid's DVDs, or Internet programs. The few cents extra in electricity costs are worth it as it acts as another babysitter when you can't be entertaining all the kids at once.
7. Bathtime is interesting. Small children and toddlers seem to love baths and will eagerly line up for the chance for some water-play and splashing. Bigger children and teenagers always have something else more important to do first. Expect it to take at least an hour from the time they are first asked to take a shower until they actually achieve it.
8. Bedtime! Probably the most difficult thing to police, especially with young children. With the one and three-year-olds we are looking after it largely depends on how big a day they had, if they managed an afternoon nap, and basically how tired (or over-tired) they are, come the allotted bedtime. Bigger children require constant prompting, but blackmail often works. 8.a. In fact, blackmail works in many different situations. "If you eat your vegetables, or finish your dinner, you will get ice cream for dessert. If not, forget it!'"If you don't get out of bed and get ready for school, I will take you in your pyjamas." etc.
9. "I don't want to go to Day Care," followed by a sudden cough, "I'm sick," is something we experienced from the 3-year-old. You just have to be strong and take them anyway (unless they show genuine signs of sickness). When you try to drop them off at the Day Care centre they will probably scream and cry, "I want my mommy and daddy" or some such chant, but the carer/teacher said this stopped as soon as we were out of sight.
10. Encourage and reward manners and good behaviour. A smile, a hug, and positive affirmation promotes those desirable traits. This ultimately makes it easier for you the next time you babysit the same children.10.a. Above all, try to stay calm even in the most stressful situations. Do not lose your cool! Kids often think any attention is good attention, or that upsetting you is a win for them (a notch on their gun so to speak). This may be easier said than done - but try your best.
if you want something done successfully, ask a busy person— author unknown
One Day to Go
Here we are, just one day to go to complete our babysitting duties. The finish line is in sight! Don't get me wrong, it was challenging but fun to spend quality time with the grandchildren.They really are good kids. Tomorrow we get to attend the final soccer game of the year for the biggest two boys, so that should be fun.
When their parents come home we have to return to our "Cackleberry Farm" and see how our dogs, cats, and chickens are coping. Our pet sitters also had a testing time with our dog Coco taking ill. I was prepared for a rushed trip home but her condition had improved dramatically the next day. We will only be home one night, then off to Toowoomba for Kathy to have an MRI scan on her knee. She apparently has damaged her ACL ligament and it isn't healing as quickly as the doctor would have liked.
Then it will be straight from Toowoomba Hospital to Brisbane to visit a dear friend who is now in palliative care. August was incredibly busy, but September is shaping to be even more "full on." I am surprised I even had a chance to write this, but I'm glad I did. They say, "If you want something done successfully, ask a busy person." Maybe there is something in that statement.
I read this book and then handed it on to my daughter
Questions & Answers
How would I know a grandchild likes a certain food?
Well, you should always ask the parents if the child has any food allergies. If not, you can introduce the grandchild to certain foods so they can taste them and see if they like them.
© 2016 John Hansen