Bed Time Tips & the Babysitter:
What to do when you have to go out

Knowing the tricks of the trade is the best way to smooth the way for a calm bedtime. However, sometimes parents can't be home when it's time for bed. The absence of a parent at bedtime can be traumatic for a child. Here are some parenting tips on lessening the discomfort.

  • Try to have at least one parent at home at bedtime, even if this means a delay in the usual time your child goes to sleep.
  • Go over your techniques with your child's babysitter: gentle warnings that bed time is near at hand and the special rituals your child expects for bedtime, such as a favorite story or cassette tape.
  • It's a good idea to tape your voice reading your child's favorite storybook for times you won't be home for bedtime.
  • Call your child on the phone from wherever you are and say all the expressions of goodnight he is used to hearing from you every night. Reassure him by telling him where you are and when you will be home.
  • Invite the babysitter to come early to get to know you and your child while you are still home. If you sit together and play a game with the sitter and your child, this will reinforce the idea in your child's mind that your sitter is a safe person for him to be with. Make this game playing a part of your 'getting ready to go' schedule.
  • Emergencies happen, but it is often possible to prepare a child for a parent's upcoming absence. Explain to him that you or your spouse, or both of you will not be home for his bedtime. Tell him who will be watching him in your stead, and if possible, give him his choice of babysitter. Reassure your child that the babysitter or relative will be told about his special rituals and that you will call him, too.
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