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.

Babysitting Safety

  • Have the following emergency information written down and readily accessible in the event of an emergency (on the refrigerator is a good place); Family name, children’s names, instructions on how to contact parents, phone numbers of close relatives and neighbors, doctor’s name and phone number and the phone number of the poison control center.

  • In the event of an emergency, call 911 and identify yourself by name, tell them you are babysitting and state the problem. State the address of the house where you are. Give the phone number you are calling from. Follow any instructions the emergency personnel tell you.

  • Get written instructions about any medications to be given to the children. Be sure to find out amounts and times.

  • Plan a fire drill in your head. Plan on more ways than one to get yourself and the children out of the house in case of fire. Read Fire Safety Rules

  • If there is a swimming pool, find out if the children are allowed to swim in it during your care. If they are, find out all the safety rules for that family and make sure you are fully aware of all the children at all times. They cannot be left alone in or by a pool.

  • Find out if you are to give the children anything to eat or drink before bed. Ask about any food allergies.

  • Make sure all the doors and windows are locked from the inside, and lock the front door after the parents leave. Turn on the front light to the house.

  • Make sure you know where the children are and what they are doing at all times. Stay with younger children to ensure their safety.

  • Never leave a child in the bathtub alone. Not even for a minute. It only takes a few seconds for a child to drown. If the doorbell or phone rings, ignore it.

  • Do not allow strangers into the house unless the people you are babysitting for leave specific instructions for you to let someone in. If you must let someone in and you have never seen them before, only open the door a little way and ask the person for picture ID.

  • When a phone call comes in, take a message and tell them that the parent will call them back shortly. Don’t let them caller know you are there alone with the kids for a long period of time.

  • After the children go to sleep, check on them every 20-30 minutes.

Babysitting Rules for Young Babysitters

  • Do not allow your friends to come over and visit you without permission from the parents. Even then, it really isn’t a good idea. It is hard to watch children when you are socializing with friends.
  • If you have brought homework to do, try and do it when the children are sleeping. If you must do your homework when they are awake, do it at the kitchen table and give the children some coloring or crafts to do at the table with you.
  • Do not allow children to climb or jump off of furniture or other things.
    Make sure all doors and windows are locked and watch that the children do not get out of the house when your back is turned.

  • Do not use the phone for longer than a few minutes. You are there to watch small children and it only takes a seconds for something to go terribly wrong.
  • Do not use any kitchen appliance without the permission of the parents. If you do need to use an appliance, make sure the children are well out of harms way. Read Kitchen Safety Rules
  • Do not use the parents computer, sound system or any other electronic equipment without their permission. Make sure they explain to you how things work before leaving the house.
  • Follow any other rules that the parent tells you about.
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