One of the hardest parts about being a parent is entrusting them with someone else.
It brings so many questions, with your ultimate concern focused on whether this person can take care of your kiddo as well as you can.
Inevitably, there will come a time when your child is in the care of someone else, whether it be a family member, sitter, or daycare provider.
And when that time does arrive, setting clear boundaries is one of the easiest ways to have peace of mind.
Talk to Your Partner or Support System First
First, establish goals with your partner by having a conversation about the boundaries the two of you want for your kids.
Boundaries can surround anything, like what the child can eat, bedtime, screen time, social media use, etc. You are the parents and you know what is best!
Once established, the conversation with the child care provider will be easier.
You may want to approach boundary setting differently depending on who is caring for the child.
How to Set Boundaries with Childcare
When entrusting a paid child care provider like a babysitter or nanny, it’s helpful to have a contract in place. This can help you establish clear guidelines right from the start so that there are no questions.
You can include anything in the contract.
Many parents choose to outline things like where the caretaker is permitted to take the children (to and from school, malls, parks, community centers), how much screen time the children may have, rules about homework, whether or not the children can be posted on social media, etc.
Sure, these can be verbal guidelines, but using a contract makes it more definitive and provides a resource the sitter can refer to if needed.
On the opposite end of things, it’s important that you show equal respect as the parent. This means being home to relieve the sitter when you say you will be, paying on time, and respecting availability.
How to Set Childcare Boundaries with Your Family
Family members can be such a blessing when it comes to caring for your kids.
But funny enough, it can sometimes be most difficult to set boundaries with the people who know you best.
Just as we said it’s important to be clear and upfront with babysitters, the same goes for a family member watching your children.
Tell them what you need or expect during the time they are in charge of your little ones, and don’t be afraid to be firm.
Oftentimes older family members who have done their share of raising kiddos feel that they know what is best, but this time it’s your child, not theirs.
Share the same set of guidelines with them as you would a sitter, or add and take away from the list based on what you think is necessary.
Approach the conversation with understanding, remembering to stick to what you expect and showing gratitude for their willingness to help.
Doing so makes for a stronger, more trusted bond between you and your family member.
How to Set Childcare Boundaries with Your Workplace
Family comes first. Careers are important, but family wins.
Sometimes, caring for and raising kiddos looks like missing a day to take care of a sick youngster, leaving a couple of hours early to attend a school event, sneaking out for lunch to show up for your child’s class pizza party, or bringing your child to work for the morning when their school issues a 2 hour fog delay.
Whatever it may be, having boundaries with your employer can make being a present parent much easier.
But it’s not always easy to set these boundaries.
To start, think about your needs and how you can excel as both a parent and a professional. How do the two tie together?
Maybe you can simply make your employer aware of your children’s ages and your family circumstances so they have an idea about your life outside of work.
Maybe it looks like compromising on a flexible schedule where you’re only required in the office a certain number of days per week.
Or, even better, maybe your boundaries look like establishing expectations where if you can get your work done in 6 hours, why stay for 8?
Early evening ballet recital, here you come!
No matter the circumstances, it always comes down to communication and understanding.
A mix of both can go a long way!
How to Set Boundaries with Children
Finally, you need to set boundaries with the kiddos too.
Not just for their safety, but for their growth and their own peace of mind.
Children need rules and guidelines to follow, and knowing that their parents are in control is important for their development.
Just like with setting boundaries with a child care provider, great communication is the magic answer.
Talk to your child and verbalize what you expect from them (this can look like reinforcing good behavior and discouraging bad).
When setting a boundary, explain it to the child. Let them ask questions, and teach them why we do this or that.
When they understand, rules become easier for them to follow.
Finally, stick to the boundaries that you create! If you are often swayed from your word or giving in over and over again, the child will assume the position of control.
Remember to stay on the same page as your partner. Establish boundaries in private before sharing them with children, and stick to your word together.