Kids are great.
I love their spunk, humor, and joy for life. One of my favorite ways to earn a bit of extra money is babysitting. Between my siblings' hectic schedules and paid jobs I've babysat quite a few times and I thought I would compile some of my best tips. There will be 4 parts to this series: 1) Babysitting in general 2)Babysitting Siblings 3) Babysitting for others 4)A babysitters advice to parents who hire (Don't worry! They are all typed and scheduled so you aren't left hanging:)
One thing to note is that you should think about who you are babysitting before you think about these tips. For example, when my brother who is almost 12 is home he doesn't always do the "special things" and I just make sure he is okay. I try not to boss him around, but the helping rule still applies:) Some kids like more space, while others want a lot of attention. It is super important to know your kids and think about their personality, age, etc.!
- Let the kids help// Now I'm not talking you sitting on the couch while they clean, but let them help you with simple tasks. Clean up their toys, take their plate to the sink, etc. What you can get help with will vary on the age of who you are watching, but don't save all the work for after the kids are in bed.
- Set aside (at least) 30 minutes for bedtime prep// You think it will only take 20 minutes to put on their pjs and put them to bed, but things will always pop up. " I'm thirsty" "My Mom always does ____" I can't find any pjs" Or the baby decides to cry, something spills, the kid procrastinates, etc. 30 minutes is a good general rule, but it might take longer so plan accordingly.
- It will take longer than you think//Tying into the previous point. Everything will take longer so plan for it to. No parent wants to come home at 10 and have all their kids who were supposed to be in bed at 7 just putting on pajamas.
- Make time a game. Sometimes time will sneak up on you and you realize that it's 15 minutes until bedtime and no one is even close to ready. Making it a competition or a game can really speed things up. Delegating different jobs to kids and then having them race to finish them can help too. This can stress some kids out or bring out sibling fights so be careful.
- Make a plan// Right after the parents leave I like to call a "meeting" where we go over what kids want to do (sometimes they have big plans...like playing tag and hide and go seek;), when we are eating, if they want to watch a movie before bed, etc. Then I make a mental schedule (leaving in extra time for things that come up) and if the kids are older I tell it to them so they aren't caught off guard when bedtime comes. This helps avoid whining, 5 more minute requests, and aww we didn't do this!
- Make it special// Every time my mom leaves I say to my 4 year old sister "Guess what?!? I get to babysit you! <insert really big "this is so fun" smile> She still exclaims YES!! with a hug each time even though I have babysat her tons of times. Why? Because we have associated babysitting with a fun thing. If mom leaves and it is just me and her but we don't declare it official babysitting, she doesn't get excited. I try to make it a little "party", watching a movie with popcorn, playing a fun game, decorating cheap party hats with dollar store stickers, and giving kids undivided attention can really make it seem like a party. I think this would be my number 1 tip: Make it a party!
- Leave it cleaner than you found it// One thing that my mom always loved about sitters when we were younger was when they left the house super clean. Was the sink filled when she left? It made her night when the dishes had been moved to the dishwasher and the pots had been washed. ALWAYS, no matter what, clean up messes you and the kids made, but if you want to really impress leave it cleaner than it was before you got there.
- Lay down the law// For some reason kids really like to trick babysitters or pull out all kinds of excuses. Definitely don't be harsh, but do let kids know you expect them to listen to you. I have never had to deal with any terrible kids, but sometimes a kid decides to procrastinate picking up, going to bed etc. Usually a gentle reminder will help them get back on track, I have found that sometimes they genuinely get distracted and just need a reminder. Never be mean and scary, but don't let yourself be taken advantage of.
These are just some basic tips that have helped babysitting go so much smoother for me! What are your best tips and tricks? Don't forget to check back for the next post in the series!