Saturday, January 15, 2011

Babysitting Tips, Part 1

Hello.  It's been a while.  I'm Caroline, if you forgot.

I'm not probably going to get back on the daily blogging wagon for a few days, because finals are this week.  But I promise, I will do better soon!  Here's a little nibble while you wait.

Although I'm technically of the age to have a real job, it's a little tricky.  I wouldn't be very good at a job in Europe because I only speak English, and I don't know if they allow American teens to work here.  So for now, I rely on babysitting!

I've been babysitting since I was eleven years old, and before that I was a "mother's helper" a few times. I've definitely gotten to the point where I'm comfortable taking care of children in any age group, from itty bitty infants to ten year olds.

I've definitely learned a lot about babysitting in all the time I've been doing it.  These are a list of tips that I thought I would share, since most of my readers are teens!
When clients (I just like to say client because it's fancy) ask how much you charge, do not hem and haw.  No mumbling, "Well... you know... whatever you think is best."  This is not a good plan because they truly want to know!  I've never had a problem where I got paid less than what I thought was acceptable, but it could happen to you. What I say is something like this:  "Usually when I babysit __insert number of children here__ kids, I usually charge from _dollar amount_ to _dollar amount."  
Money is tricky.  I can't give you an appropriate per hour charge because I don't know your situation.  I'm beginning to think in euros, but in dollars, my minimum is $5 mostly, and the highest I've ever been paid was I think $10 an hour.  My average (at the client's choice) is usually about $7 or $8, but it all depends.  
Here's a great tip; it's one of my favorites.  When you babysit, make a point to clean up the kitchen and the toys after the kids go to sleep.  Of course, if they're old enough, you can have them help you, but usually I just have them pick up the toys and I take care of the kitchen.  I always try to leave it cleaner than the parents left it, if I can.  I remember once, I cleaned up everything and washed some dirty dishes in the sink, and the mother thanked me profusely when she got home.  And the kicker?  They hired me again!  If you go above and beyond, it's always noticed.
I've before gotten phone calls from people I didn't know.  One good thing about being a reliable babysitter is that you get referrals, but honestly, I don't ever babysit people I don't know.  I don't like the idea of going into someone's house, even the house of a friend's friend, if I don't know the parents and if I don't know the type of child.  I wouldn't suggest it.  I had my father call the person back and explain the situation, and they understood.
I would suggest taking a babysitting course.  Even if you know a lot about children and maybe have siblings of your own, it's great peace of mind.  I like knowing that if a baby was choking on something, I would know how to help them without injuring them further.  I even have a trusty little certified card in my wallet in case anyone ever asks, which they never do.
Always bring something to do.  I find that sometimes families won't have TVs, or the parents stay out late.  I usually bring a book and I often bring homework.  I've never fallen asleep on the job, no matter how late, and I don't intend to.  It doesn't seem very responsible to me; so I always bring plenty to do, and I always ask beforehand how late they are staying out, so that I can bring enough things to last for that amount of time.
Dress comfortably.  I never really wear just a t-shirt and a pair of jeans day-to-day, because I like wearing nice clothes, but I make exceptions for babysitting.  It's ok if you don't look like a glamour-queen!  Long sleeves are a no, because they get in the way of giving baths.  Wear a hoodie over a t-shirt if it's cold, and just take the jacket it off when the sleeves get in the way.  Jeans are best, because they're flexible for stooping down, running around, and playing on the floor with the kiddos.  And wear shoes that are easy to kick off because some families don't like it when people walk around the house with shoes on.
Give hugs and kisses to little ones.  Kids love having an older person to look up to and hang out with, so snuggle 'em to bits.  I always ask if they want to sit in my lap, and I always kiss their heads when I tuck them in.  They appreciate affection, and they act better when they know you like them, no matter how temporary the gig.  And don't be afraid to get a little kid-ish yourself, as long as you're still being responsible!  Have light saber wars in the backyard, try to beat them on Mario Kart wii (and it's not unfair because I NEVER win) and put on a princess tiara every once in a while.  It goes a long way for those little people.
That's all for now!  I'll have a part two as soon as I can.  I hope these tips were helpful to you!

1 comment:

Rude, Vulgar, and/or Offensive comments will be deleted promptly. So play nice, kids. :)