Recently my husband and I had to be gone for the day and we were leaving the kids with a babysitter. We don’t get babysitters very often, but I’ve learned from experience that it’s best to leave a list of activities the babysitter can do and some sort of schedule to follow.
The first few times we had a babysitter, I just told them to have fun and left the plans up to them. When I came home, I found out that the kids had watched TV the whole time, even though I thought I said no TV as I left the house. I came home irritated and wishing I hadn’t left. I didn’t want this to continue happening, so I started leaving a schedule with a list of things to do, to keep them busy and entertained was I was gone.
After all, the TV is for me to use; if I’m paying a babysitter I expect my kids to have a good time and have someone engaging with them. I’m a teacher by trade, and I compare the list I leave for the babysitter to sub plans. I have someone “subbing” for me and I want to make sure they know what I expect to happen while I’m gone.
We were planning on being gone for a full day, and we were giving a retreat. Being gone that long meant I was going to have to leave lots of activity choices for them. I thought about going to the dollar tree to buy some new treats but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, so I started inventorying the things we had in the house. My list started with chalk, paint, bikes, park, playdough, easel, etc. I was actually pretty surprised by the list I was coming up with and was just adding a thing here or there like bubbles that I could buy.
As it turns out, we all ended up with the flu and my husband and I never made it to our weekend. My kids don’t usually get sick, so I didn’t know what to do with sick kids. When I was young we watched TV when we were home sick and so I reverted back to that. I think my son may have watched more TV this week than in the last two-and-a-half years of his life combined. It took me a really long time to get over this flu and I just felt like I didn’t have the energy to do anything with my kids. I began to feel stuck and started to worry about the summer and how I was going to stay busy and break away from my recent TV crutch.
While I was cleaning up the kitchen one morning, I came across the babysitting list and thought, Well we didn’t need that, I guess I’ll just toss it. Then it dawned on me I could create a “mommy as the babysitter” list and display it in the house and every time we’re wondering what to do with ourselves, we could go to the list. And even better than a list, I’d make a picture chart so that way my kids could pick for themselves instead of me having to read it to them. It would resemble the star chart I shared a while back, where my kids get to pick a item they’re working to earn for the week – guitar playing time with dad, skyping with grandparents, and ice cream with mom, etc.
Here’s my “mommy as the babysitter” list so far….
Copyright 2014, Courtney Vallejo