These 8 tips help you prepare for a house sitter and keep them comfortable while you’re away so you can worry less about your pets and home and your sitter isn’t feeling lost or confused. Updated July 2022
Over the weekend we took a little mini vacation out of town and my mother-in-law stayed at our house with our pets. We have three cats and a dog, and without her house-sitting, we wouldn’t be able to travel at all. We are so incredibly grateful that she’s always willing to stay with our fur babies, and I try to go the extra mile to make sure she’s comfortable in her home away from home.
This time I decided to document the things I do to share here on the blog in case you have house or pet sitters stay overnight. Of course, you already know the obvious stuff like cleaning the house and adding extra bedding to the guest room, so I’m leaving those out. Here are my top 8 tips for prepping for your helpful houseguest.
1. Stock The Fridge And Pantry
Your house sitter will be staying in your home for multiple days and at least one night, so you should make sure she has food and drinks that she doesn’t feel unsure about consuming. Dedicate a full shelf in the fridge with easy meals like pre-made salads, soups, sandwiches, and snacks, along with drink options, and put a sticky note on that shelf telling her to help herself to these options.
Do the same in the pantry by stocking snacks and dry goods in a dedicated basket, or in a cleared out upper cabinet near the fridge. Telling a guest to “help themselves to your entire pantry” can be really overwhelming, and they’ll worry that they’ll eat something you planned on eating later. By giving them dedicated options you bought just for them, they won’t feel guilty about their food choices.
2. Make Them Something Special
While we’re on the subject of food, let’s talk about a little gift of appreciation. Most house sitters are usually someone in your family, and they rarely would accept any kind of payment as a thank you for their time. Instead, you can show how much you appreciate them by leaving a homemade snack or treat. My MIL loves the trail mix we make for the holidays, so we decided to make a big batch for her and leave it as a surprise. You can prep a snack like we did, a big pot of her fave soup, or a pan of double chocolate brownies.
3. Label Important Places
Unless your house sitter stays in your home often, she likely doesn’t know where to find things like plates, cups, cleaning supplies, first aid, and pet supplies. Nothing is more awkward for a guest than going through cabinets, drawers, and closets. Take a moment to think about the things she might need while she’s there and pop a sticky note label so it’s bright and visible. Especially in the kitchen and utility areas.
4. Leave Notes, Passwords, And Info On The Fridge
Leaving notes on the fridge is a must-do. A paper on the counter might go unnoticed, and a cat can knock the sheet off the coffee table before your guest even sits down for the first time. We leave a “menu” of all the food and snacks in the fridge and cabinet we bought for my husband’s mom on the dry erase board, and I use the Sitter Notes page from the Organized-ish Family Info Binder Kit to share pet notes, wi-fi passwords, alarm codes, and emergency info.
5. Set Up Guest Accounts For Your TV
We live in a time where most of us stream via providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, which all keep track of your watch history and allow you to resume an episode where you left off. This is great for us homeowners, but super uncomfortable for a house guest.
She can feel nervous about throwing off your For You algorithm or making you lose your place in a tv series. Be sure to create a guest account for every TV app you subscribe to and leave a list of them all for your Sitter so she can watch without worry of throwing your accounts off.
6. Leave Some Fun Stuff In The Guest Bedroom
I don’t know what it is, but anytime I visit someone else’s house and a magazine is sitting out that I don’t subscribe to, I’m instantly drawn to pick it up and flip through it. Every time I go to my Mom’s house I always find myself looking through her magazines on the coffee table.
Your house sitter can only watch so much TV before she eventually gets bored, so leave her some fun things to do when her eyes need a blue-light break. I like to stash a variety of magazines, puzzles, single-person games, and books in both the guest bedroom and the living room so she can spend her time however she wants.
7. Stock The Guest Bathroom
You know when you visit a hotel and you forget something like toothpaste or shampoo, you can just walk right down to the desk and ask for some? Your house sitter can’t exactly do that. On the off-chance that she missed something while packing, it’s a great idea to stock the guest bathroom with trial-sized toiletries for her to use if needed. I like to put them in a mesh bath caddy since there are dividers and you can easily see everything inside, but a pretty basket on the counter works well, too.
8. Leave More Than Enough In The Guest Bedroom
Last but not least, make sure your guest bedroom is stocked with more than enough comfort items. A fan in case she’s a hot sleeper, extra blankets if she’s used to sleeping under thicker comforters than you have, a sound machine, various pillow thicknesses, a sleep mask, an extra phone charger, and even a comfy bathrobe are all great additions. She may not use any of them, but at least they’re there just in case. (PS: Shop all my favorite guest bedroom essentials here)
More Tips For Overnight House Guests
I’ve been writing this blog for seven years and I have a bunch of other posts about hosting overnight guests, party guests, and sitters. This one helps you prep a guest bathroom, these things should always be in a guest bathroom, and this one covers what not do do when hosting overnight guests. Have a question or personal tip you’d like to share? Drop it in the comments below!