I asked my younger sister to take care of the children for TWO hours while I ran errands. Not a hard task right? She’s an Ivy League graduate for heaven’s sake. As long as I leave the children fed and clean everything should be alright. Or so I thought. Half way through running errands at the speed of light I get a call from home. You guessed it. It was my sister.
“What do I do if I have to pee?” She asked.
Hold it in!”
“Umm ok but how?”
“Look, just go, hurry. Put the kids in the crib and leave the door open.”
That’s when it occurred to me that what was so obvious to me was not so obvious to my twenty six year old sister who had never had children. Mind you this is a highly functional young lady who has a great GPA and a very good amount of common sense. Meanwhile by the time I got home she had managed to let the kids eat popsicles while running around the house, the kids were never changed, my 5 year old had convinced her that it was nap time for the twins when it clearly wasn’t and she was frustrated by the fact that one baby was crying when I walked in.
Later that night while the children were asleep and we were having a glass of wine we discussed what had happened during the day. She was just blown away that I did this on a daily basis and that some things just came “naturally” to me. We sat down and wrote down a list of things that I thought were a given but she didn’t and so this list came to be:
10 THINGS THAT ARE OBVIOUS TO YOU…
BUT MAY NOT BE SO OBVIOUS TO YOUR BABYSITTER
- You are allowed to take a quick bathroom break. As long as you know the kids are in a safe and confined place you should be A-okay. Just make sure you don’t turn on the exhaust fan. This way you can actually hear what’s going on in the rest of the house. Kids can be very adventurous when they see that there is no adult around
- You can’t trust everything a toddler tells you. When my pre-schooler tells you “My Mommy lets me do it ALL the time,” BEWARE. She is lying through her teeth. Don’t fall for it!
- Pay attention to diaper needs, even if it doesn’t smell like poop in the room. If the diaper feels mushy, then it’s wet. You don’t have to change diapers every 15 minutes, but just make sure that you did it at least once within a 2-hour time period. Unless it does smell like poop, in which case, good luck.
- When changing a diaper make sure that the other twin is nowhere in sight. You see, while you’re dealing with one baby if the other can get her hands on the ointment or the wipes or even the clean diaper- she will! Also, when you’re changing the diaper do not let go of the legs! Why? They LOVE to flip over as you’re wiping and as you can imagine it is not a pretty sight when you haven’t cleaned the whole area thoroughly and this child flips over (poopy and all).
- Snacks are a must. Snacks keep them busy for a good ten minutes, but make sure that this snack is not one that must be eaten quickly or at a table. My children HATE their highchairs. They love being on the go so if this snack is something that is going to spill all over the place and is sticky, then refrain from giving it to them.
- Just because a toddler can walk and run does not mean they can climb up and down stairs. Unless you have confirmed with the parents otherwise, then make sure you always hold on to a child as they go up and down steps. And please make sure you actually use the gate I have placed next to the bottom and top of the stairs. There’s a reason they’re there. So that the babies can’t climb over them!
- I know you have the ability to text and walk but you do not possess the ability to text and watch three children. Taking care of twins and a toddler requires six sets of hands so unless you have eight sets of hands let’s leave the phone alone for now. That important email will still be waiting for you when you’re done with this adventure.
- Reasoning with a 5 year old is not the way to go. They will keep asking the famous “Why?” question and you will end up at square one before you know it. Do not ask open ended questions because I assure you they will find a way of closing it quickly. Ex.
“Wouldn’t it be fun to help me out with the twins?”
I rest my case.
- Babies cry. That’s just what they do. You can’t just sit there and wonder where you went wrong because by the time you know it you’ll be crying too! Give the baby an entertaining toy, play peekaboo, give them a refreshing drink and when all else fails try putting them down for a nap. Many babies just cry when they’re bored or tired. Heck sometimes I do!
- Don’t give one twin something, unless you have one for the other twin. If you give one a toy or a sippy cup or even a pacifier because they’re crying make sure that you have an extra for the other. It’s just common nature to want what you don’t have, and that holds true for twin babies as well.
My sister and I had a lot of fun putting this list together and we really hope it helps you!