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Settling - In Sessions: For parents using a babysitter for the first time

anxious parents firsttime parents settling -in sessions May 20, 2022

Some first-time parents can feel quite worried about leaving their child in the care of someone new, especially if they have never left their child or children with anyone other than family members.  This is totally understandable and expected whenever a trust relationship has to develop between a babysitter and a parent. 

If you are faced with an interview or phone call where this situation arises then offer a settling-in session to a parent especially if they want you to look after their child in the future when they are not going to be at home such as an evening booking.

A settling-in session is a really good way for reassuring children that mum and dad will return back home again at the end of the evening or day out. It is also reassuring to mum and dad that you as the babysitter have everything under control.

A settling in session is usually booked in advance of the parents going out for the day or the evening and it involves having a normal babysitting session with the child but the parents are in the home, in another room getting on with work or their daily routine at the same time as you are in the home. It is usually a paid session, so you would continue to do normal babysitting duties as if you were on your own in the home. The only difference is that the child has the knowledge that mum or dad is just around the corner in another room - a gradual process of overcoming separation anxiety.

Usually, a 3-hour session is a good period to have a settling in session and it is advisable when you book a settling-in session that you mention to mum or dad or both that part of the booking should involve them leaving the house for at least 30 minutes to an hour so that their child gets used to understanding that mum and dad will leave and then return home again. 

The advantage of a settling-in session is that you as the babysitter can see how the family routine works with the added bonus that you can ask the parent a question whilst they are still in the home if you need to. For the child, they quickly understand that other people apart from mum and dad can look after them for a short period and that mum and dad do return home to them again.

The disadvantage of a settling-in session is that if a child does have separation anxiety and they know that mum or dad is in the house during the session then they will always try to get to mum or dad which can almost be counterproductive.  It is often better for parents to bite the bullet and leave the sitter in charge alone at their house whilst they go and enjoy a cup of coffee for a couple of hours. If the children are upset when the parents leave they generally do settle quite quickly in a parent's absence. Discuss this with the parent so that they understand in detail about the session and they can decide what is best for their little ones.

It is important that you charge for a settling-in session. It is your time so make sure you are clear with the family what the rate is for the time you are looking after their child whilst they are at home too. Many nurseries do not charge for this session but as you are self-employed this is your time that you are charging for as the future booking is likely to only be a one-off booking which may or may not lead to repeat bookings.

Make sure you send a settling - in booking confirmation email to the parents before you arrive for a settling-in session with the details especially indicating that settling-in sessions have a minimum booking of 3 hours and that is a paid-for session that will be invoiced after the session. 

Are there other ways you meet the family before your babysitter booking? Let us know at [email protected]

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