When parents put their trust in you to take care of their children, you are bearing a heavy weight on your shoulders. You are completely responsible for the lives of somebody else’s little people. While the safety of the child is of utmost importance, and obviously the ability to ensure this safety is an important quality of a babysitter, there are other things that come into play that set apart good and bad babysitters.
Over the past years, especially in the past six months, I have learned a thing or two about how to become a better babysitter. I put together ten tips that will take you from the Average Sitter to the World’s Best Babysitter! Here they are:
Be on time! Better yet, be early. Typically, if you are babysitting that means parents have something to do that requires them leaving or their undivided attention. Be mindful of this. Getting to the house even a few minutes early gives the parents a chance to either get ready and out the door without chaos (or gives them extra time to peel the child off their legs so you can distract the child while the parents sneak out the door.
Come prepared to entertain! So often parents are okay with you putting their kids in front of a TV for the evening because they want it to go smoothly and for it to be easy for you. I am not a parent, but I always assume that a parent would rather their child NOT be sitting in front of a screen for three hours. I try to bring little art projects from stuff I have at home or from the Target dollar rack. If it is a daytime babysitting job, try to find fun outside activities to do.
Be creative! Sometimes the choo-choo train trick doesn’t get the kid to eat his asparagus, but the racecar might. Turn walks through the neighborhood into dragon hunts. Have the kid create their own storylines or play a make-believe game of Paw Patrol or Go Diego Go (or whatever shows they enjoy) as an alternative to actually watching the shows. Kids have wild imaginations, so give them something and let them roll with it.
Clean up! Parents are sooo appreciative when they come home to a clean house. I make sure that anything we played with is cleaned up and I do any dishes that were left out. I am always sure to ask before doing somebody else’s laundry because I know people can be picky and I am terrified or shrinking somebody’s favorite article of clothing.
Spend only minimal time on your phone (while the kids are awake)! I keep my phone with me while babysitting so the parents can always reach me but avoid being consumed by my phone. The parents are paying you to pay attention to their kids! Social media can wait until after bedtime.
Be transparent and over communicate! Always be upfront with the parents and never say something to the kids that you would not want the parents hearing. The parents are placing great trust in you by having you take care of their kids in their house; DO NOT BREAK THIS TRUST. There have been so many times where minor incidents have happened (like broken dishes or disturbing occurrences with the kids) and I totally forgot to tell the parents when they came home because it slipped my mind, but as soon as it comes back to me, I let the parents know so they do not think I am hiding something from them.
Follow the house rules! This is simple. Do not let the kids do or say something that their parents wouldn’t let them do. There is a little exception to this one: feel free to pull the “your parents might let you _______, but I do not allow that” card when necessary. I have had children playing dangerous games (like flipping over laundry baskets and diving from there to the couch) that the parents let them play, and in these instances, I have put my rules over the parents’ rules since I did not want the children getting hurt on my watch.
Know how to deal with sibling rivalries! I have three younger siblings, so I get it: sibling rivalry is so real. Kids pick on each other and test each other’s limits. Know when it is kids playing around and know when to step in and break it up.
Don’t make too big of a deal about the money! Of course, babysitting is a job and it is important to be compensated fairly, but making it all about the money can make it uncomfortable for all parties involved. I personally think that being flexible with rates is okay, because even “low rates” for me are much higher than minimum wage.
Behave professionally! Confirm times the day before you are scheduled to babysit. Keep careful track of your schedule so that you do not run into scheduling conflicts. Let parents know in advance if you will be unable to make it to a regular or weekly job (if that is something that the nature of your babysitting entails.)
Do you have any tips to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments below!