There has been a myriad of nasty bugs going around this season (more like all year, TBH…) - in fact, you and your family probably caught one or two or five already. And with kids still in school, the chances of them getting sick is highly likely. For the working parent who can’t necessarily afford to take off a day of work to stay home with their sick child, it begs the question, “Should I hire a babysitter and risk them getting sick, too?” What exactly is a parent to do?!
Truthfully, there’s no right or wrong answer here. It’s really up to your family’s needs and what your hired help agrees to and is comfortable with. Some sitters aren’t thrilled with the idea of caring for a sick child, and it is in their right to decline the offer, while some sitters don’t mind and are happy to help. Either decision should be respected. That said, if going the route of hiring a sitter works out best for you and the sitter agrees, here are a few ways you can help make your child’s caretaker more comfortable:
Your sitter should understand the risks involved in caring for a sick child…that is to say, there is a chance they could catch whatever your child has. Offering them sanitizing products, face coverings, and encouraging them to wash their hands often shows that you value their health and well-being.
Some babysitters don’t charge extra for caring for sick children, and some do. Also, depending on how short the notice is for the sitter, hourly rates can vary. It’s always best to have this discussion with your sitter before they come over. The last thing you want is for there to be any miscommunication with payments, potentially creating rifts between your help and your family. It’s best not to assume anything, so communicate early on and agree to terms before they accept the job.
When kids are sick, they want to lounge and be comforted. Your child deserves to have someone there to rub their back, make them soup, let them veg out in front of the TV watching cartoons or movies, and put a blanket over them while they doze off for a much-needed nap. Caring for sick children presents a bit of a different day and schedule than normal. It should be no different for your sitter. Hiring help to care for your sick child isn’t necessarily the time to require them to organize your laundry room or vacuum the whole house. They’re doing you a big favor by risking their own health to care for your sick child; allow them this time to do less in order to be there more for your child. Your child’s needs come first.
Make it easy for your sitter with clear and concise instructions on medication distribution, along with a list of emergency contact numbers left on the fridge or kitchen counter if God forbid they’re in a situation where they need to use them. Some good numbers for them to have on hand are your child’s pediatrician, a nearby neighbor or family member, work numbers if the sitter can’t reach you by cell, and poison control. It’s also quite wise to have you and your sitter sign an authorization that goes over instructions in order to administer medicine.
A simple “thank you” really does go a long way. But if you’re anything like me, you likely go over the top to let people know how much you appreciate them. Other ways to convey gratitude to your sitter can look like opening your kitchen to them and allowing them to snack on whatever they’d like (with the exception of the liquor cabinet, for obvious reasons…), giving them a little control of the thermostat (hey, it’s just for the day and they should be comfortable!), or letting them watch Netflix with their feet up while the little one is taking a nap in the other room. However you decide to express appreciation, make sure your sitter knows their efforts don’t go unnoticed.
At the end of the day, we know getting sick is inevitable; it happens to all of us. And, unfortunately, it happens to children more often, sometimes putting parents in a tough spot. Fortunately, there are amazing people out there who will help out and offer some peace of mind to families knowing their children are taken care of and provided for during these tough times. So if you find yourself this season needing the assistance of outside help to care for your child while they’re on the mend, make sure they have what they need to make their shift as smooth as possible, and don’t forget to give your child’s caretaker a little praise in the end.