Is your pocket money just not cutting it anymore? Are your parents on your back for you to learn about responsibility and get a job? Babysitting could be the answer. Babysitting is a great job–especially for teenagers. You can make quick cash while looking after and playing with children. You’ve probably had to watch your little brother or cousin before anyway. Why not do the same thing and get paid for it?
While being a babysitter is fun, you do have to be a serious sometimes. It’s a real job, and parents are trusting you with their children. If you are between the ages of 14 and 17 your legal guardian can apply for jobs for you. Only when you are 18 years old you can have your own account and apply for jobs yourself. If you are younger than 14, you can’t sign up on Care.com just yet.
Here is our step-by-step guide to how to become a great babysitter:
1. Check your schedule
Before you even think about babysitting, look at your schedule. Is babysitting realistic? If you’re up to your neck in extracurricular activities from morning until night seven days a week, you probably won’t be of much use to families. Figure out when and if you’re free to babysit, so you can give a clear, accurate schedule to the families you want to work with.
2. Learn about childcare & safety
Take a course that will help you learn the babysitting ropes. Experts advise potential sitters to take a babysitter training course and learn CPR and first aid. They’re usually cheap and short, so definitely worth it! Lots of organizations in your area will offer them–like community centers, hospitals and your local Red Cross.
Another bonus of taking a course? You can earn even more money as a babysitter! 80 percent of parents feel that teenage babysitters should be paid more if they are trained in first aid, CPR and childcare, according to a survey from the Red Cross.
3. Do a safety check
Because safety is so important when you’re watching children, it gets two steps! Before you even think about babysitting a child, make sure you know what to do in an emergency situation like:
- the child is choking
- the child gets a minor scrape or cut
- the child falls off his bike and hits his head
- you get locked out of the house
- there’s a fire
- a burglar breaks in
- the child runs off
4. Start slowly
You don’t have to jump right into watching strangers’ children. For CV-building and practice on real children, offer to babysit your family members and neighbors’ children. If you’re brand new to babysitting, you’ll want to have adult supervision at first, and eventually you can move to real babysitting for pay.
5. Determine your rate
The most important part: money. How much should you charge for babysitting? Some families may want to give you a crazily low amount–after all that’s what they used to get paid when they babysat 20 years ago. Don’t fall for it. If you’re responsible, experienced and trained in safety, you can ask for more. Your price also changes depending on how many children you’re looking after, how old they are (younger children need more hands-on attention), if you’ll be playing with them the entire time or if it’s night-time and they’re sleeping. Use your judgment, and talk to a parent or trusted adult to figure out a solid rate. You can negotiate with families, but it helps to have a starting figure in mind.
6. Spread the word
Now that you’re ready to start, you actually need to find a babysitting job. Let friends, family, and neighbors know you want to babysit. Put a notice on community boards where parents often are, like the local shops, library and pediatrician’s office. You can also find babysitting jobs on Care.com. Create a profile and apply to jobs–all for free.
7. Interview safely
When you find a job, the parents will probably want to interview you–either over the phone or in person. Before talking to someone you don’t know, make sure your own parents know all the details about the job and who you’re interviewing with. If something seems odd, tell your parents immediately. You need to stay safe, too!
When you interview with a family, tell your parents when the interview is scheduled for, where you’re going and the names/address of the parents. Ask them to drive you to the interview and wait outside. Or call them as soon as it’s over. Find out more about what a parent is looking for in a babysitter. In an interview try to show off your babysitter traits.
8. Plan activities
Once you land that babysitting job, you’re not done yet. Think about what you’ll do with the children to keep them entertained. Ask the parents what kinds of activities their child likes to do ahead of time, so you can prepare. Think about whether the activities you’re planning are age- or developmentally appropriate. Make sure you run the activities by the parents, always following their instructions. Come to the job with some suggestions for activities, or bring books to share with the children.
9. Be prompt
Show off how professional you are by arriving on time. This shows you respect the parent’s schedule and you’re reliable. If football training is running a few minutes late, make sure you call the family and let them know. Whatever you do, don’t cancel at the last minute. Word will spread with local parents (they all talk!) that you’re flaky and you can say goodbye to your babysitting career.
10. Put your phone away
Young children can get into dangerous or deadly situations very quickly, so a babysitter must not be distracted by socializing while on-duty: no texting, no Facebook or Instagram checking, no personal phone calls and no personal visits from friends. Besides, your friends will be impressed later when you tell them you couldn’t talk or text back because “you’re working.”
Once the rug rats go to sleep and the house is quiet, you have a little more freedom. But make sure you ask the parents before they leave what’s okay: TV, phone, computer, etc. Keep an ear out for noises, don’t get distracted and stay quiet–you don’t want to wake up the children!
11. Clean up
One thing all experts agree on: If you want to impress the parents, tidy up before they return. It will really show off how responsible you are. If the house got messy during your Lego building or that re-enactment of ToyStory, make sure all toys are put away before bedtime.
12. Go the extra mile
How do you make sure the parents will call you again? Be organized. Tell the parents how your time with the children went and anything they might need or want to know about it. Most parents are content when you show up on time, have a positive attitude and follow their rules–so if you arrive at the first gig with a thousand bells and whistles, you might overwhelm the parents and the children. Over time, however, you can show the parents that you’re really invested in the job by repeating things the children told you, by showing up with activities you know they will love or by offering ideas for future outings–these are sincere efforts, not forced ones.
13. Don’t try to be perfect
Know that, no matter how prepared you are, babysitting isn’t easy. You have a little life in your hands, and you have to please the parents. You will learn quickly that nobody will ever be 100-percent perfect as a babysitter. However, you will learn how to be confident despite these tiny setbacks and how to be a great babysitter–if not a totally perfect one. Confidence goes a long way when it comes to handling children.
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