How to Become an Experienced Babysitter: Tips for Beginners

If you are someone who is looking to begin a career in babysitting and childcare, but you don’t know how to get started, you have come to the right place!

Babysitting is one of the most important jobs a young person, or even an older person, can have.  Parents are trusting you to take care of their most precious treasures for a few hours while they are away.  Taking care of someone else’s children may seem a bit overwhelming at first.  Don’t be nervous, because it’s actually fun!

A two year old uses Geometric Shapes to make pictures with me at a local restaurant.

I started babysitting when I was twelve and can offer you a few tips:

  1. Educate Yourself:
    • Take a CPR/First Aid/AED course for children and adults.  I believe there are also babysitter-training classes.  Check with your local Y or Red Cross organization.  It’s important for parents to know that their children will be safe and well cared for.
  2. Network:
    • Networking is a key ingredient to building your clientele.  Do it right, and you will be “the” babysitter for your community.
    • Talk to your mom’s friends.
    • When you go to your church or synagogue, talk to the parents.  Go to the babysitting program, get on the floor and play with the children.  The parents will definitely be there and can observe you interacting with their children.  Introduce yourself and tell them you are a babysitter.
    • Post ads with tear-off tabs that display your professional babysitting and contact details on community bulletins.
  3. Have a plan:
    • Decide on what you will charge.  For my first job, I charged $5 an hour.   As my experience grew, so did my price.
    • Decide on whether or not you will bring extra toys and books.  I always brought a bag of activities with me.  The children loved reading something they didn’t already have.  A favorite was “The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales,” by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith.
  4. Have an Emergency Plan
    • Before the parents leave, ask them to show you:
      1. Where they keep the list of emergency contacts
      2. A list of allergies for each child
      3. An emergency evacuation plan
  5. Important Things to Remember:
    • Make sure to stick to the children’s schedules.  If a parent says their child must go to bed at 8 o’clock, make sure the child is ready for bed by 8 o’clock.  The parents will tell you whether or not their child will be allowed some extra time up.  That’s fine, since you can help the child to use that extra time for a nice, quiet activity, like reading a book together or telling stories to each other.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  One time, while babysitting, I began to feel sick.  I called my mother, who came over to assist me with the children for the rest of the evening.  If this should happen to you, make sure that you call the parents to let them know what’s going on.  Don’t bring anyone else into their home if they don’t know the person.  In my case, they knew my mother.
    • Don’t invite your friends, your boyfriend, or whomever, unless the parents specifically asked you to.  I once assisted a family with two parties in one day and was stationed at the bounce house.  In this case, I was allowed to invite a friend to help out.
    • Maintain the boundaries.  Yes, you are there to play with and entertain the child as if it were a playdate, but remember that YOU are the adult.  While the parents are out, you are in charge of the child.  The child may try to manipulate you, to test your boundaries and your resolve.  “No” means no, “bedtime” means bedtime, and “eat your veggies” means eat your veggies.  You are the caregiver and they are the children.  Don’t forget that.

Good luck and, most importantly, have fun!

 

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