Babysitting – Getting Started

Getting Started

First, you need to be old enough to babysit. Although in most places there is not a law governing how old you need to be, most parents agree that 12 or older is a good age. You should always check the laws of your country, province or state to be sure you are old enough to babysit. Talk to your parents as well. They can give you a lot of feedback as to whether or not they believe you are ready to babysit at your age.

Second, you need to determine whether or not babysitting is your thing. Taking care of someone else’s children is a big responsibility. If you can handle that burden, enjoy spending time with children, have patience, are trustworthy and dependable, have good organizational skills, are a good communicator and enjoy teaching through fun activities, babysitting may be a good job for you.

Third, you should know what babysitting is all about before you jump head first into your first babysitting job. It is always a good idea to participate in a babysitting training course. These courses are usually offered through your school or local YWCA. You can sign up for an online babysitting course as well if you want to do the training from home. These courses often offer babysitting certificates of completion, excellent advice and safety instructions. Many parents prefer a babysitter who has taken one of these courses.

Fourth, always get your parents permission before beginning a babysitting business. You will need their support and guidance in your new position.

Finding a Job

First, you need to determine what kind of babysitting you would like to do. These questions should help you in your determination:

  • How many children can you handle at one time? 
  • What ages are you prepared to deal with? Do you prefer infants, toddlers or older kids?
  • Do you want to babysit on weekends only? Weekdays only? Or, both? 
  • What times and days are you available?
  • Are there certain times of the school year you are unavailable (exams, projects)?
  • Do you want to babysit children with disabilities or behaviour issues? Can you handle that responsibility? 
  • Are you patient? Can you handle a crying or demanding child? 
  • Are you able to enforce parents rules without giving in?
  • Do you have support at home that you can call when you need advice on the job?

Second, you need to look for work. Let your parents get the word out that you are available for babysitting. Hand out flyers in your neighbourhood or at your school. Sometimes people put want ads up online and in newspapers looking for reliable part-time or occasional babysitters. Call these people and find out more about the job. Let your parents come with you to meet the family before you take on a job.

Third, determine what your wage you will work for. In order to determine this you need to do a bit or research. Find out how much babysitter are paid in your area. You can ask friends at school how much they charge or ask family friends how much they pay their babysitters.

Getting Things Ready

First, meet the parents and children of the job you are considering accepting. This not only gives you an opportunity to get a “feel” for the family, it allows you to impress the parents and show them that you are knowledgeable and can be trusted.

At this meeting, you should fill in the following forms:

Babysitting Planner
Emergency Information
Job Information

You should also leave them your, About Me sheet at this meeting.

Second, let your friends know when you will be available after a babysitting job. This way you will not be distracted by telephone calls or unexpected drop-ins by friends.

Third, keeping safety in mind, plan activities for the kids. Keeping kids occupied is the key to an enjoyable babysitting job.

Here are a few suggestion to pack in your activity bag to help keep the kids occupied and happy:

  1. Go on a scavenger hunt.
  2. Pack a different book each time you go to babysit. Or, pack their favorite one!
  3. Bring plastic containers full of ingredients to make cookies. Kids love to bake.
  4. Bring the materials needed to make a fun seasonal or theme craft.
  5. Pack some crayons, glue, safety scissors, markers and glitter. Print out some coloring pages and have fun!
  6. Make a game by asking what their favorite things such as colors, animals, food, songs, and make up a story together that includes all their favorite things.
  7. Cut up the front of a cereal box in fun shapes to make a puzzle. You can glue pictures from kids magazines on cardboard and cut them up too. Keep puzzle pieces in zip lock baggies.
  8. Mix 1 cup water, 1/3 cup dish soap (Joy, Sunlight, etc) and 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup to make bubbles. Use things from around the house as bubble makers, apple corer, potato masher, handle of a basting brush, etc.
  9. Make forts out of pillows and sheets. Making forts is easy for them and gives them a little hiding place. Bring along a flashlight or two and camp out in the family room.
  10. Toddlers love to play pretend. For an ice cream store you will need a table, clean ice cream containers, ice cream scoops, and cones made from paper. For a fun day at the beach you will need bathing suits, towels, sunglasses, a radio, and beach toys. To go grocery shopping you will need to gather empty food boxes and containers, play money, and cardboard boxes for shopping carts.
  11. Bring along a board or card game to play with the children. Try operation, candyland, go fish, crazy eights, tic-tac-toe, etc
  12. LEGO provides hours of endless fun through imagination. A bucket of lego is a good business investment.
  13. Bring along some CD’s and/or tapes and dance and sing.
  14. Go for a nice walk and play I-Spy along the way.

Enjoy yourself and always remember to keep safety in mind when playing with and watching young children.

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