bubble’s Sarah Zeqiri offers some advice on how to work with your sitter to stay in line with Government social distancing guidelines, ensure safe sits and build brilliant relationships with parents

Good fences make good neighbours: I love this old saying and it applies perfectly to a working relationship. If everybody knows what’s expected of them, it keeps misunderstandings to a minimum.

During social distancing, not everyone will be looking for babysitters but you may be called upon by a key worker to look after their kids while they’re out looking after everyone else. So what guidelines should you set out, and what questions is it OK to ask?

Honest Communication

It can be a bit embarrassing to ask someone questions about their health but right now, it’s perfectly reasonable for parents and sitters alike. If you feel uncomfortable, it might be useful to think of any questions you want to ask your family before you meet. How about:

  • To your knowledge, have you been in contact with anyone who has had a temperature over 38° or had a new persistent, dry cough in the past 14 days?
  • Are you practicing social distancing, in line with Government advice?

These are the current NHS guidelines for everyone to abide by:

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days.
  • If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.

It’s a good idea to check guidelines for any updates (bubble is regularly checking the guidelines and will update advice to parents and sitters if things change) – and be prepared to answer these questions in return.

Cancellations

While cancelling at the last minute is less than ideal, I think we can agree that wellbeing is far higher on the list than it may usually be. Make it clear that health is a priority and that you would rather a last minute cancellation from a family than the alternative. Discuss the prospect that you too might need to cancel should you become ill or come into contact with a poorly person; understanding from both sides is needed!

Like everyone at this challenging time, we need to be as flexible and understanding as we can be.

Healthy Practice in the Home

It’s recommended that to keep germy bugs at bay, we regularly wipe down surfaces, door handles and taps with antibacterial cleaner and that we regularly wash our hands. Hand wash and antibacterial wipes are currently a hot commodity, so it may be prudent to pack a travel size bottle of antibacterial in your bag for personal use. This is particularly useful if you have had to use public transport to get to your sit as you can freshen up before meeting the children. Alternatively, ask if you can use the hand basin before you’re introduced to your charges.

Ask parents whether you will be changing nappies and helping potty-trainees and whether these areas have been recently cleaned down. New parents may have expectations that you follow specific healthy practices within their home, so asking them to give you instructions not only looks proactive but leaves everyone feeling more comfortable. For example, you may be asked to supervise little ones when they are washing their hands to make sure they are following the recommended 20 seconds of scrubbing. You could try singing a nursery rhyme with them or use it to practise counting or the ABC. Every day is a school day!

Setting out and agreeing on clear guidelines makes everyone feel more comfortable and helps to ensure not only your health, but that of the little lovelies you will be taking care of.

Building the relationship

With everyone being keen to promote healthy habits, it’s important that you be honest with families if you show any symptoms of illness after the sit. This allows parents to make sensible decisions for their family and they will appreciate your concern for their wellbeing. Once you all feel better, you can book more time together knowing you had mutual respect for each other’s welfare.

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