Today’s article was contributed by Ben Olsen and was originally published on Homeschool Launch.
Need some ideas for making life easy for your babysitter? As big brother of seven, and the official babysitter of the Olsen clan, I have lots of experience as a sitter. Gather ’round while I share my best tips. Hopefully, your next date night will be a roaring success — for you and your teen sitter.
It is 10 p.m. on a Friday night. You walk in the door from date night to a spotless home. The floors have been vacuumed. The wood and tile floors have been mopped. The dishes have been washed and put away on the correct shelves in the kitchen. All the kids are tucked in bed — with teeth brushed and matching pajama tops and bottoms.
This is what happens when you leave big brother (or sister) in charge when you sneak away for date night right?
Most likely not. Even if the floors aren’t sparkling and the littles all crashed in the same clothes they wore to the park, your kiddos (hopefully) made great memories while you enjoyed a night out.
A loving response to the atmosphere you find in these moments will set the stage for future experiences. Falling apart and having a critical spirit will make your teen dread the idea of sitting for you the next time. Offering support and encouragement for the effort made lets your teen know you appreciate their contribution to your night away.
It will take effort — like some deep breaths before you respond. Some sacrifices will have to be made. As hard as it may be, follow this rule: no complaining about the dirty pajamas, littles falling asleep in play clothes, or dishes waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher.
With a little effort, date night family camaraderie is possible.
Here are my best tips to help you and your babysitters:
Set Clear Expectations.
Your teen can’t do what you want if you don’t give specific instructions. Just like you’d leave a checklist of schoolwork for your children to do during the day if you’re gone, communicate what should happen during the evening.
Make Sure Your Expectations are Realistic.
Your teens are amazing, but they are not Mary Poppins and Cinderella morphed in to one amazing package!
Leave Your Teen with Hacks.
Nobody knows your littles like mamma does. If you think it’s going to be a tough night, give your teen an idea or two to help:
- Tell the kids a monster lives under the bed starting at 8pm.
- Kids don’t really want to clean up before bed? Give your teen freedom to bribe them with ice cream!
- Find a way to turn that chore into a game. You need the house mopped? Give the kids mops and socks and let them play hockey. Suddenly mopping turns in to a great memory.
- Bedtime miserable? Maybe your munchkins still have too much energy (remember that ice cream from earlier?). Tell your teens to hit the trampoline, play a round of hide-and-seek or “Brother May I” before bed.
Leave Your Teen an After-Bedtime Treat
Hey, we like sweet stuff too! You know how you have that secret stash tucked way for after the kids go to bed? Give your teen the same kind of special treatment as a reward for their contribution to your date night.
Offer a loving response to the atmosphere you find upon returning home. Make things easier for teens who provide babysitting. Both are pretty simple ideas that will have a lasting impact on the satisfying success, or frustrating failure, of date nights.
Multimillionaire entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Once everyone sees the value of engagement, everyone will do it.” So, engage your children. Teach them successful habits starting with interacting at home. Show them that you care.
When they see you pouring into them in loving and affirming ways, they will, in turn, care for each other. It won’t be instantaneous, but once it happens, you will see the growth in relationships.
Creating a loving atmosphere isn’t about checking boxes until the littles are asleep. It is about valuing each person in the family. Give your teens a vision for their role as influencers in the home. They can help create a loving atmosphere, or they can make your life miserable. Equip them for success with their siblings.
Next time you plan a date night, I hope you’ll think more about making life easier for your babysitter!
For more date ideas, check out our Pinterest board!