Babysitting as a Tween + Teen
A few episodes ago we discussed job ideas for tweens and teens. I mentioned I wanted to go into more detail about babysitting in a future episode, so here it is!
Babysitting can be a great job for a tween or teen. You can have a flexible schedule, negotiate good pay, play with kids, and there are likely multiple opportunities near you. Whether or not you already have some babysitting experience (younger siblings), taking a class on babysitting can strengthen your skills and prepare you for the job. Parents appreciate knowing their children are in good hands while they’re away. I’ve got a lot of babysitting tips to share, as well as feedback from parents about their babysitters.
The best way to get a babysitting job is to let kids’ parents know you’re available. You can talk to your neighbors yourself or even have your parents text their friends with kids. You could also put up a flier in your community or have your parents create a social media post for local friends or your neighborhood page. About those last two ideas, even if you have your own cell phone, it’s a good idea to put your parent’s phone number on the flier or social media post so your parents can verify who’s trying to contact you, and then they can pass on your number.
Before you start trying to get babysitting jobs, decide how much you want to be paid. This number will depend on how much experience you have, how much the going rate is for babysitters like you in your area, and what tasks and activities you’ll provide. Also, younger kids in diapers can be more work than kids who aren’t.
When you talk to the parents about the babysitting job, make sure you double check that you’re available on the date and time they need you. Ask how many kids you’ll be watching and their ages. Let them know if you need a ride to their house or a ride home afterward. Also ask if there are any details you should be aware of (diapers, food allergies, etc.). You can say, “My rate is $__ / hour or per kid, will that work for you?” If not, try to negotiate an amount that works with their budget. If all of that sounds good, accept the job–you’re hired!
If you or your parents don’t know the family who hires you, see if you can meet them a day before the babysitting job, or ask to come over a half hour before they’re leaving so you can familiarize yourself with their kids and also to ensure you feel comfortable in their home.
Now onto the babysitting job itself: the responsibilities and expectations. The most important thing when babysitting is safety–both the kids and yours. While it’s unlikely something bad will happen, it’s important to know what to do if it does. Whether you’re babysitting kids at your house or someone else’s, before parents leave, have them write down as much of this info as possible: parents’ names and phone numbers, the address you’re at and the cross streets, who to contact in case of an emergency (besides 9-1-1 in the US), the name/address/phone number of a trusted neighbor, the number for poison control, info on any allergies kids may have (especially food allergies), whether there are weapons in the home and if they are stored securely (not just hidden), the best doors and windows to escape a house fire, where the fire extinguisher is located in case of a small fire, and where to find band-aids if needed.
On that note, basic first aid and CPR would also be helpful to know for babysitting. There’s likely a place nearby where you can get trained and maybe even certified. If you’re in the US, check out courses offered by the Red Cross or the American Heart Association.
Parents may ask you to prepare a snack or a meal for the kids while they’re gone. Check with parents about what their kids can eat (or can’t eat). Safety first applies here too. Use caution when preparing food using anything sharp, or anything that can get hot (microwave, toaster, air fryer, stove, oven). Be sure to turn off and unplug anything you use. Especially with little kids, test the food’s temperature before giving it to the child. Always supervise kids while they’re eating, not just to prevent them from making messes, but especially in case they start choking or have a reaction to something they eat. When you’re finished eating, clean up any messes you or the kids made. Before parents return home, it’s a good idea to double check the kitchen is tidied up.
Find out from the parents if any children are in diapers (including just at night) or if any children need help using the bathroom (some potty-trained children can’t wipe themselves properly and need assistance). If you don’t know how to change a child’s diaper, or are uncomfortable with diapers or wiping kids, you need to let the parents know because that may not work for them. If while babysitting you need to change diapers or wipe kids, make sure you know how the parents want you to properly dispose of dirty items–some people use cloth diapers and wipes, some use a diaper genie, some take soiled trash straight to the dumpster outside. Don’t leave a stinky mess for parents to find in the morning (ask me how I know).
Also check with the parents whether any children need a bath. If they need you to bathe a child (and you’re comfortable with it) be sure to test the water temperature before the child gets in, only fill the tub a few inches, and always supervise the child–do not leave them alone in the bath. Also don’t take your phone in with you–both for privacy reasons and because you need to keep your eyes on the child. Tidy up any mess or puddles from bath time when the child gets out and hang wet towels up to dry.
There are lots of ways to fill time while you’re babysitting that don’t involve TV or devices. Here are some ideas: dress up and play pretend, have a toy tea party, read together, build something with legos or blocks, play a board or card game, draw or color, play charades, choreograph a dance, do fun hairstyles, or put on a puppet show or play. If parents are ok with you playing outside in their yard before sunset, you can play classic games like tag, hide and seek, red light green light, simple sports, or lie on your back and watch the sky. You can even put together a babysitting bag with games, crafts, art supplies, or prizes to give the kids—they will likely enjoy something novel you bring because it’s different than the same old stuff they’re used to playing with. Make sure you leave enough time for activity cleanup, either with the kids or after they go to bed but before parents get home–especially if you do a craft project or bake with the kids.
If your job includes a child’s nap or bedtime, make sure the parents tell you their child’s routine. Besides helping kids brush their teeth, go potty, and change into pajamas, they may also want to read a story, sleep with a nightlight or fan, or have the window shade and door shut. If a kid gets out of bed (and there’s nothing wrong with them), patiently return them to their room to go back to sleep.
Why Parents Would Hire a Babysitter Again
I asked some parents for reasons they *would hire a babysitter again. Multiple parents said these three things:
If the babysitter
- spent time playing with their kid instead of just being on phones/screens
- cleaned up the messes from playing and did the dishes
- treated kids with kindness
… they would hire a babysitter again.
Parents also mentioned they appreciated when babysitters came with a fun craft/ game bag, they sent parents pictures of the fun they had with the kids, got kids to bed on time, and left a “While you were out” note.
Why Parents Would NOT Hire a Babysitter Again
Parents also shared reasons they *would NOT hire a babysitter again. Multiple parents said …
If the babysitter
- spent a lot of time on their phone and ignored the kids
- allowed the kids be on screens the whole time
- left a mess of toys or dishes
- let the kids stay up late
- had someone come over to the house
… they would NOT hire a babysitter again.
Parents also mentioned if the babysitter didn’t change diapers, asked to be paid in advance, got into the parents’ things (like clothes or jewelry), lied to the parents, did anything inappropriate or illegal, or just if their kids didn’t like them, they wouldn’t hire the babysitter again. You need to know–parents talk to each other for babysitter recommendations, not to spill tea but because they need to be able to trust the people they hire to take care of their children, the most important people in their lives.
I recognize this was a lot of information, but I hope it gave you a better understanding of babysitting and encouraged you to consider doing it. I really believe that with some preparation, training, and practice, you could be a great babysitter!
Babysitting Tips Poster Printable
To help you remember all of this, I created a “Babysitting Tips” poster for you to print out, personalize, and post on your wall where you’ll see it, remember it, practice it, and believe it — that’s the important part.
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