Recently I asked my younger sister to take care of my 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 got 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 babies in the crib and leave the door open.”
That’s when it occurred to me that something so obvious to me was not so obvious to my twenty-six year old sister or anyone else who has not yet had children. Mind you this is a highly functional young lady who has a great GPA and a good amount of common sense. Meanwhile, by the time I got home, she had the twins in the crib and playpen both crying because my 5 year old convinced her it was their nap time (strictly because she couldn’t hear her princess movie with all the commotion) while completely covered in assorted popsicle juices. Oh, and of course they both had full diapers at this point. She was also clearly upset by the fact that they were still crying even though she had followed ALL the advice my 5 year old had offered.
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. Both the experience and the conversation inspired us so much that we sat down and wrote down a list of things that I thought were understood but she said were not…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 fine. 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. That is, 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 changing one baby, it is our experience that the other is going to attempt to take the ointment and the wipes and the clean diaper-she wants to change someone (or something) too! 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 yet. Poop flies and sticks like glue when children flip over in diaper change mode.
· Snacks are a must. They will keep your children’s concentration for a good 10-15 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 until you know they aren’t restless. Perhaps a cracker you know they enjoy or a piece of an apple or some bread.
· Just because a toddler can walk and run does not mean they can climb up and down stairs. Unless you have confirmed this skill with the parents, make sure you always hold on to a child as they go up and down the steps. And please make sure you actually use the gates placed next to the bottom and top of the stairs. There’s a reason they’re there-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. Phones absorb concentration; taking care of twins and a toddler requires concentration and 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 question (“Why?”) 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. Example-“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 peek-a-boo, or give them a refreshing drink; and when all else fails try putting them down for a nap. The faster you react to the crying, the quicker it will stop. 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, a drink, 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!