Being a parent is a full time job. Even when your baby is not with you, chances are you are thinking about them and their safety. For nine months you carried your child and nourished him. You kept him safe. You probably childproofed your home before you even brought him home from the hospital. You have turned your home into the safest, most comforting place for you child to be. Now it is time to drop your little man off at Aunt Beth’s house. That is all fine and good except Aunt Beth has no children of her own yet. There are no child safety gates to barricade off the sewing
room, no child safety latches to keep the liquor cabinets closed and no toilet latch to keep the lid secure while your curious little tiger is visiting. You pace your living room a half an hour before you are scheduled to leave, contemplating whether or not you can cancel. What in the world will you tell your sister? Just about anything you say to her at this point will make her feel like you do not trust her with your child.
Does this scenario sound familiar? If you already have a child, it probably does. It is completely healthy to worry about the safety of your child in someone else’s care and someone else’s home. After all, in our minds, no one can offer the same level of love, support, comfort and safety as we can as parents. So how in the world do you overcome this? Surely you cannot deny your child’s care forever. You know that you will have to return to work, have a night out with your spouse or go to a doctor’s appointment. There are just simply going to be times in yours and your baby’s life where you will have to be apart and rely on the care of someone else for your child. There are a few things that you can do to make yourself feel a little better and even help prepare your caregiver or babysitter for your child’s visit.
First of all, do not be afraid to ask whether or not your caregiver has childproofed their home. This applies to caregivers who already have children of their own and who may even have children the same age as your child. You do not know how every parent safeguards their home. Do not automatically assume that just because your friend has a child the same age as yours that she has thoroughly childproofed her own home. Asking about how prepared your caregiver is will most likely not be taken as an insult. It is an important question, one that they would probably ask you if the roles were reversed. Worrying about hurting someone else’s feelings or offending them is not a reason to not ask. Asking will buy you the piece of mind that you need. This line of communication is especially important if the caregiver watching your child does not have children of their own, or if their children are grown. This happens the most with the Grandparents. They have had their own freedom for quite sometime, and now they will have a little one crawling around. They may just not think about it or may not remember what it is like having a constant explorer around the house.
So the first step here is to ask. Remember to be gentle, you do not have to ask in an authorative or demeaning manner. You should never make someone feel as though they are ill-equipped or imply that they have no understanding of what they are doing. One line I have always loved to use was, “I don’t mean to treat you like you’ve never been around a child before. I just have to run through this spill to keep my own sanity!” For the most part, people have just laughed and understood. Like I said, if they have children of their own, then their own concerns for their children have more than likely led them to this point before as well!
Another great way you can approach this conversation is to bring it up when you call to confirm your visit. Most parents always ask if there is anything in particular the caregiver thinks they should bring. Bottles and burping cloths, extra changes of clothes and diapers are always on the list, but have you considered your safety gear? Ask your caregiver if you should toss in a few electrical outlet plugs for their living room if that is where the bulk of your child’s time will be spent. Tell Aunt Beth that you remember that she has that gorgeous marble coffee table in the living room and ask if it would be okay if you brought some corner bumpers for her to stick on the sharp edges of it. More than likely, she’ll be delighted that you even thought of that, she may never have until an accident occurred. Stick a spare child safety gate in the trunk of your car and bring it with you. Let your caregiver know before you leave that you have a spare in your trunk if they think they could use it during your baby’s visit.
There are so many different ways that you can prepare for your child’s visit to someone else’s home. One of the best ways to keep your baby safe is to let the caregiver know what sparks your child’s curiosity the most. If Junior just cannot get enough of sneaking into the bathroom to flush the toilet and watch the water swirl around, this would be an important thing to let your caregiver know. If your child likes to put small objects in his mouth, you should also warn your caregiver so that she has a chance to grab anything that might be a possible risk to your child.
The best thing to remember is that your child’s safety should always come first. More than likely, you are not going to offend anyone by asking a few simple questions about their preparation for your child’s visit. If anything, your caregiver may be relieved that you asked. Caregivers want to provide for your child in the best and most professional loving way possible. Giving them a heads up on some potential problems or offering some tips will only make the stay safer and more enjoyable for your child, and put your mind to ease.