On Monday morning, the nanny comes, then it’s off to preschool for the afternoon, and in the evening the babysitter stays with your kiddo until you return home from work. On Tuesday, Grandma is in charge, but on Wednesday a family friend runs the show. Although it’s a blessing to have so many caregivers upon whom you can rely to help look after your little one, problems can arise from having so many troops on the ground. Remember that you are the general, and it is up to you to set the tone for how this child-rearing battle will be won.
Lack of Consistent Discipline
When a kiddo is cared for by multiple sitters and family members, one possible adverse effect can be a lack of consistent discipline. As child development experts with the Kids Health website note, consistency is key when it comes to successful discipline. So if your neighbor says it is okay to jump on the furniture while Grandma is against it, your tot is likely to get confused about the rules. Moreover, when consistent consequences are not enforced — Mom is big on time out but the sitter ignores bad behavior — you can be sure your little one will look to test the boundaries as much as possible. Be sure to discuss your disciplinary action plan with every caregiver who looks after your child so that everyone is on the same page.
If you rely on multiple caregivers to care for your child, be sure to have a strategy in place for effective communication among all involved. If little Johnny had a snack before story time when Grandpa dropped him off, you wouldn’t want the nanny to feed him again an hour later when she picks him up. Likewise, if Johnny already took his vitamin with breakfast when Dad was home, he shouldn’t have it again with lunch while Grandma is watching him. Whether it be a chart that documents every aspect of Johnny’s day or a string of text messages that keeps all caregivers in the loop, communication is key in caring for a kiddo.
Toilet Training Setbacks
Perhaps you’ve been working with your little one on toilet training. Be aware that when too many cooks are in the kitchen, or the bathroom in this case, Junior may have trouble achieving consistent potty success. As the American Academy of Pediatrics’ HealthyChildren.org points out, routine is very important when it comes to toilet training. Make sure every caregiver who will participate in preparing your peewee for the potty is prepped. If your tot likes to take a certain stuffed animal with him to the toilet or feels more comfortable when he has a little privacy, keep your caregivers informed of these details. That way your child will know what to expect from a trip to the bathroom, no matter who is caring for him.
If you are in a situation where you must leave your kiddo with multiple caregivers, don’t be surprised if he acts out to get your attention when at home. Perhaps your tyke will cling to your leg, cry or otherwise make a big show out of your departure. In these situations, the Kids Health professionals advise a parent to react calmly and reassure the child, saying, “Mommy will be back in a few hours.” Then, make sure you stick to your word and always return when you say you will. Furthermore, you must regularly set aside one-on-one time for you and your tot. Let him know he is important to you and that even though you must leave sometimes, time with him is at the top of your priority list.