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Your Child’s Keeper

C. Rosenberg

Sending a child to a relative or friend for a few days or more requires planning. How to make it as smooth as possible for everyone

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

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Whether you’re farming out your little ones to siblings, kind neighbors, or even paid babysitters, you need a plan to make sure they’re comfortable and have what they need — and won’t drive their caretakers crazy

M azel tov! It’s a new baby — and now big brother and sister need a place to stay while you’re recuperating. Or maybe you need to go out of town for a simchah or family emergency, or — lucky you — a vacation. Who takes care of the kids?

Whether you’re farming out your little ones to siblings, kind neighbors, or even paid babysitters, you need a plan to make sure they’re comfortable and have what they need — and won’t drive their caretakers crazy.

Who Will Take Them?

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a bubby in the neighborhood to sleep at when Mommy and Tatty aren’t around. And sometimes Bubby isn’t even the best option for long-term sleepovers. When you’re trying to decide whom to ask to take care of the kids, think about both where your child will be most comfortable and who will be comfortable taking him in. A family with a child around his age is often your best bet. Then he’ll have a playmate who will probably be on a similar schedule.

 

Sara from Brooklyn, 40, remembers hosting a preteen family member when she was the parent of two young children. “Since he started school way before my kids, I had to wake up quite early to get him ready for school,” she recalls. “When he got home from school, it was almost my kids’ bedtime. He kept complaining that he was bored.”

Other scheduling conflicts can complicate the stay as well. For instance, a host who works afternoons when your kids get off might need to arrange a babysitter or leave work early. Or perhaps her kids go to school on Sundays, while yours do not. Try to find a host family whose children have a schedule similar to your child’s so that you don’t impose.

If there is no choice, at least mitigate the difficulties by making alternate arrangements for schedule conflicts. For example, you may offer to pay a babysitter, or arrange a playdate with a different friend when the host has to work.

Ahead of the Pack
Even if the host’s child is the same age and has the same schedule as your child, don’t assume they’ll have everything your child will need. Go over his entire day and night when you’re packing up and create a list of everything he uses. As you pack, check things off so you don’t miss anything. 

Chaya Rivky, a popular babysitter who often has children staying at her home for up to two weeks, has the process down to a science. “I’ve had parents who forgot to send diapers or Shabbos clothing!” Chaya Rivky says. “If you have an organized list to check off as you pack, hopefully this won’t happen.”

Exactly how much clothing should you send? It depends on whether the host wants to do your child’s laundry. Racheli, a bubby many times over who hosts her grandchildren of all ages, says, “I tell my kids to send no more than three changes of clothing. The more they send, the more potential there is for clothing to get ruined and lost. I don’t want that. I’m forever doing laundry, so I just throw their things into the washing machine each evening after they go to bed.”

Other hosts would prefer you send enough clothing for the duration of the stay. Dena went one step further when her sister Gitty watched her daughter; she packed her child’s clothing in individual bags — including an outfit, socks, and accessories for each day. This kept the morning rush to a minimum and eliminated the guesswork: “Which skirt goes with these socks?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 551)

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