The Control Freak’s Guide to leaving your baby with someone else

There are three big parts to dealing with leaving your baby with another caregiver for the first time:

  1. How YOU are feeling.
  2. How the BABY is feeling.
  3. What the SITTER needs to know.

I will offer to you – in total empathy with how hard it is to leave a precious baby – that the first part is the most important.

Can you handle going somewhere else? Are you ready? Because if you are ready, then your mood will positively influence your baby’s state of mind and help the caregiver too. Most skilled babysitters can figure out the rest to keep your baby alive until you return.

I once had a babysitter watch my five-month old in a hotel room during my brother’s wedding. Her instructions were to do whatever she could to leave the breastmilk stash untouched so that I could nurse him once more before the reception. She messed up my one instruction; and now that child is eight. It all works out.

Let’s deal with you first (and last)

This will be okay. You can do this. You want (or need) to be somewhere else and that is ok. Whether it is work or your best friend’s bachelorette party, it is alright to leave your baby with someone. Take some deep breaths, feel the feelings. Now be brave.

Write up a cheat sheet.

I urge you to keep the important information on one piece of paper. Include the basics: approximate schedule, meal suggestions, bedtime routine, a brief FAQ, and emergency contact info (you, partner, pediatrician). I also have our home address listed there in case she needs to tell an ambulance.

I highly recommend keeping the instructions brief. The longer you make your cheat sheet, the less likely it is to be used and the nuttier you look by extension. If you’re leaving for a long weekend, go ahead and make a binder, but if this is three hours, your cell phone and the location of the mashed banana ought to suffice.

Tell baby you’ll be back, then get out of there.

At our preschool drop-off, Sawyer likes to give me a hug, kiss, then push out the door. It helps him to feel in control of our goodbye routine. Find a pleasant way to leave each other and don’t belabor it. If baby is crying, know that it probably won’t last.

Trusting a babysitter is hard on any self-proclaimed control freak because we are relinquishing the authority to someone else. But if we didn’t do it, we’d never get anything done. See also, my best tips on finding a good babysitter and my wacky instructions for a new babysitter.

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