It goes without saying that one of the things a sitter can do to really set them apart and be welcomed back is to make sure the homeowners come back to a clean house and happy pets with everything in order. On a short sit, this should be quite easy. The house should be cleaned, trash emptied and personal possessions removed and packed up, and this could take as little as an hour or two. On a longer sit, the countdown to D (departure) Day should be more considered and I usually systematically start to put things in place and prepare for the owners return a week before the day I leave.
I currently only undertake medium to long term sits, as do many sitters (for a variety of reasons, which I will go into in another blog). The suggestions I am offering in this article is what I do as a standard practice towards and at the end of a long term sit.
The countdown to Departure Day starts a week leading into the owner’s return. This gives me plenty of time to get everything done and I can be calm and relaxed while doing it. It means homeowners will be welcomed to a clean and beautifully presented property, the pet care and exercise regime can be maintained and my own professional commitments met. Seven days also ensures I have a weekend at some stage to do some last-minute shopping/replenishing plus any sightseeing I haven’t managed to fit in and spend time with people before I leave.
The first thing that I do as the start of the last week of the sit is to check, confirm and be sure of the date and time the owners return. This will make a huge difference to the planning and preparing to be ready for them. I may need to factor in an airport pick up, or maybe I need to secure the property and depart prior to the owners returning. What time are the owners expected? If it is a morning arrival, I have everything ready the night before, for an afternoon return, I use the morning for washing and drying laundry, cleaning the floors and a kitchen and bathroom final once over.
One of the jobs that I always put some time aside for is cleaning the vehicle if a car is included in the sit. This can be done at any stage over the last week with a final tidy up the day before if I am not using the vehicle to transport animals. When dogs are the passengers this is then best left to a day or two before the owners return. This is a pretty big job and can take a couple of hours, the earlier the better as the list of jobs for the day before and day of owners return is already big enough! I will aim to use local parks and paths for dog walks on the last couple of days to keep the car in pristine condition and have that job ticked off early.
On the rubbish day in the last week I empty every bin in the home, and the vacuums, litter trays are completely replenished and the recycling and green waste from the garden goes out. I make myself a reminder so I don’t miss this date, and go to every effort throughout the stay to recycle and dispose of waste regularly.
Here is a list of some of the other things that can be done in the week leading up to the owners return home:
- Reconcile receipts against any petty cash
- Compile a list of maintenance issues identified and any breakages
- Make sure all the mail is dated
- Complete clean of all floors and surfaces, plus bathroom and kitchen
- Empty lint catcher in washers and dryers
- Sweeping and hosing down outdoor areas
- Empty and clean the fireplace
Here is a list of the things that can be done the night before or morning of the day the owners return:
- Water garden outside and pot plants inside
- Empty all kitchen and bathroom cupboards of personal belongings
- Wash the bed sheets and make up the bed with fresh linen
- Last walk with the dog
- Fill up the car
- Pen a letter with a wrap up to say thanks, pass on any messages, advise of how to stay in touch and attach the list of maintenance (if you have one)
- Put anything moved back where it was
- Send a message to the owners to check that the travel plans have not been disrupted
This is not a small list or an exhaustive one of things I would normally do. I go to a lot of effort to ensure nothing is overlooked. The value of being organised can not be understated, as well as planning logically and the ability to get a lot done in a short period of time when required. It is important to me that owners return to an organised, clean, well-maintained home and happy pets so if you require a sitter in the future please don’t hesitate to get in touch.