Having been a babysitter all through my teen years, and with my own teen now starting her babysitting career, there are a few key things that babysitters need to know. Here are 10 babysitting tips to make you the best sitter ever and guarantee that you’ll get asked back again and again:
When Arranging the Sitting
Know the Ages of The Children
Most parents will tell you this but make sure you know if there are very young kids. Younger kids can often be more wary of you, and may miss Mum/Dad a bit more, so it’s good to know in advance what you will be dealing with.
Check What Time you are Required
Offer to come a little early to allow time for them to give you essential information and show you where things are.
Tell the Parents Your Rate
If you feel uncomfortable giving a number, just start out with saying “Whatever you are happy paying me” – sometimes you end up getting paid very well this way!
Check What Time They will be Home
If you need to be home prompter because you have to get up early next day, make sure to tell them that so they don’t dally coming home. If you don’t tell them you have an early start, they may not realise and in my experience not everyone is punctual.
Check Arrangements for you to Get Home
Make sure you know if the parent is going to drop you home or if you need to make your own arrangements to get home. Most parents I sat for were happy to see me home safe and sound.
During Your Sitting Time
#1. Make Sure You Get Contact Numbers
Make sure you have all the contact numbers you need from the parents, both numbers if it’s a couple you are sitting for. You may also like to ask for a neighbour’s name and contact and to know where they have emergency numbers written down.
#2. Door and Phone
Discuss answering the door and phone with the parents. Are they happy for you to answer their door? Should you answer their phone? What will be the arrangement for contact if they need to get in touch.
Check on key and locking the door arrangements, so you know how to lock and unlock the door.
#3. Find Out Any House Rules
If there are any specific house rules like screen time limits or no cookies before bedtime, make sure you know about them.
#4. Any Bedtime Specifics
Make sure that you know if there are any favourite bedtime cuddly toys (or blankies) and where they are before the parents disappear!
#5. Some Bedtime Tricks
One of the best things I discovered as a babysitter was when I invented Zoomy Tucks. All the kids I sat for loved this without exception. Here’s how you do them:
- Ask the child how old they are and this will tell how many zoomy tucks they will get, 1 for each year + 1 for luck. E.g. if they are 9 then they get 10 zoomy tucks.
- Get the child into jammies, teeth brushed etc. and lying in their bed. (Kids love the anticipation especially the first time you do this!)
- Then “zoom” their duvet or blanket up over them while counting each time and sometimes making funny faces before you do the next zoomy tuck.
I also found reading or telling a story to most children calmed them before bedtime and they loved listening. I made up a whole series of stories about a mouse called J.P. Willikers who had all sorts of adventures involving cheese (naturally!).
If any anxious children come back downstairs after bedtime (and most kids will try this on anxiety or no anxiety!), try tucking them in one more time to reassure them but sometimes they just want to be with someone while their parents are away so bring their blanket and tuck them in on the sofa beside you if necessary.
#6. Safety Stuff
- where the smoke alarms are situated
- where to find a fire extinguisher or blanket
- where to find the first aid box
- if there is a good exit door or a route mapped out
- if there is an alarm system, ask them to show you how to use it and how to disarm it
#7. Any Allergy or Medical Information
Check if the kids have any specific allergy or medical issues or need any medication before bedtime. Parents should have allergy/medical information available for you but it’s a good idea just to check.
#8. Drinks and Food
Ask the parents if it’s ok to have a drink and/or a snack while you are babysitting and ask them to show you where the teabags or coffee are located. You may want to bring your own if you have particular preferences.
Make sure to ask permission to use their wifi as they should have a code. And ask them how to operate the remote controls and cable/satellite if you intend watching TV.
#10. Remember that you are a sitter and you are in charge
Never snoop around the house even if you are tempted. You have been asked to sit and keep an eye on their kids while they are out, don’t overstep any boundaries. Don’t invite any friends around or spend hours chatting on the phone which can be distracting, make sure you are aware of what’s happening because you are in charge in their absence.
Finally, it goes without saying but always be polite!
Over to you now. Do you have any babysitting tips for parents or first time sitters? Share them with us in the comments below.