When someone has put their complete trust in you and your family to care for their home and their precious pets, it can feel like a huge responsibility. Add kids to the mix with their unpredictable nature and sometimes wild ways, and the stress levels can bubble over! We know you want to do it well, and return their home in the same, if not better condition than it was when you moved in, but we also know that accidents can happen.
We want your house-sitting experience to be an enjoyable one and minimise the risk of any mishaps. To help you out, here are our top 7 tips for getting your house sit off to a good start.
1. If possible, visit the house beforehand.
While it may not always be possible, we recommend a tour of the house with the owners first. This way you can familiarise yourself with the property, there will be no surprises when you get there, you will also have a chance to meet any pets and familiarise yourself with their personality. You can also assess how the house will be for YOUR family.
If you see anything that you know will need to be moved, rooms that will need to be closed off or anything else that will make your house sit with your family incident free, let the owner know. They will appreciate the guidance!
2. When you arrive at the house to start the house sit, do a sweep of the place before your kids enter!
And no, we don’t mean a sweep with a broom… more like a sweep for any potential disasters!
When we did a recent house sit, the home owner was kind enough to leave a bunch of toys, (like marbles!) out for our kids to play with. This was awesome for the 4 & 7-year-old. Not so awesome for the baby who loves to put EVERYTHING in his mouth.
I went through the house and boxed up everything that was not baby friendly, that was breakable or that was at risk of being sabotaged by Edward, our 1 year old. Having all this stuff away from the beginning made for an easier start and a more pleasant stay.
Ask the home owners beforehand if they’re alright with you clearing off shelves or moving things like photo frames and vases (and try to put them back as best you can how they were at the end of the sit).
3. If you have kids under 3 …have a Baby Proofing kit!
After you have cleared out any excess, now it’s time to baby proof (if that’s still required in your family). We have a collection of cupboard locks, a baby gate, and a playpen that we use when we’re house sitting. We were a bit slow to get these initially and spent a good deal of our time picking the contents of Tupperware cupboards off kitchen floors and wondering if it was us that had lost lids!
We use this baby gate… and these baby proof locks. Both are available from Kmart, but places like Bunnings, BigW and Target have similar. Local Facebook Buy Swap & Sell or Marketplace are also a good place to pick baby proofing supplies up cheaply.
4. Waterproof mattress protectors for the beds.
Before anyone has any naps or goes to sleep, make sure that you have popped a mattress protector on the bed. You can guarantee that the moment you don’t have one on, someone will have an accident. You don’t want to clean your own mattresses, let alone someone else’s.
5. Have a family meeting to establish ‘house rules’.
Our kids loved being involved in discussing and setting rules for our house sits! Miss 7 enjoys being the scribe and law enforcer! Setting some rules from the beginning makes it clear to all family members what’s expected of them and the level of respect that is required in the house. We stick ours up on the fridge for easy review by all. No jumping on couches, no throwing things inside, etc etc.
6. Take note of stock levels!
Going around the house before you get settled in, and taking note of the ‘amount’ and brand of things left, will leave no guesswork at the end of your stay. Toilet paper, washing powder, milo… if you’re going to use it, replace it! It is easy to forget if there were 5 rolls of toilet paper or 10, if the washing powder was yours or theirs… especially when there is more than one person in the house. Take photos or take note and you will thank yourself later.
Sure, most home owners won’t mind if you use what is in the pantry or bathroom… but there are some that might. Here at Family Friendly House Sitters, we encourage you to leave the house that little bit better than you found it, and this is one of the ways to go about achieving this.
7. Complete the Family Friendly House Sitters checklist with the owner
We designed the Family Friendly House Sitters House Sit Handover Form to ensure that there is an open line of communication between the home owner and the house sitter, and you’re not left wondering if it’s okay to use the tomato sauce in the fridge or not! Click here to download it now!
The most successful house sits that end with the best feedback are the ones where there have been clear guidelines for both parties. Our tools help you with that! Go through the checklist with the home owner and make sure you have as many bases as possible covered. That way you know who to call if there is a water leak, what to do if a pet gets sick and if the Grandparents are welcome to come and spend a night!
We hope that you found these 7 ways to make your house sit family friendly helpful! Are there any that you would add?