Babysitting is a practical way to earn extra income whether you’re a student or someone with a day job. If you have a natural love of kids, you’ll also get to enjoy spending some time with them as a babysitter. But being a babysitter is not always about having fun with kids. You have to prove you’re capable of taking care of them, because parents entrust their kids to your care. Brush up on your babysitting skills and consider these tips to help you become a responsible and reliable babysitter.
- Gather everything you need beforehand. Ask for all the contact details of the child’s parents, nearest relative, trusted neighbors, even the police and fire department in case of emergencies. If possible, get to know where the parents will be while you’re in charge of their child. Make sure they fill you in about the child’s needs, house rules, your responsibilities and tasks. See to it that you are informed if the child needs medication, any kind of special treatment, even allergies and things that should be avoided. Know where the fire extinguisher and first aid kit are located. It’s helpful if you ask about the child’s personality, interests, skills, talents, likes and dislikes so that you can think of activities you could do together or topics you could talk about. You should also ask about the child’s schedule and other last minute reminders.
- Ensure safety of the child first. Before the parents leave, make sure that they show you how the locks and alarms work. When they leave, check if all windows are shut and all the doors locked. Leave a light on in the back yard and the front. Make sure appliances are turned off when not in use. If there are sharp, dangerous, accident-causing objects lying around, keep them in their proper places and somewhere out of reach for the child. Do not entertain strangers who call or knock on the door and even ask to be let in. Also, do not let callers and strangers know that you are alone with a child in the house. Be constantly vigilant about safety.
- Watch the child like a hawk. If a baby has been entrusted to you, always stay with the baby at all times even if he’s already in the crib. Make sure he’s secure in the crib. If you have already put him to sleep, stay nearby and remain quiet. Read a book, do your homework, or study to pass the time. If you’re taking care of a toddler or a young child, you can let him be while playing or watching TV, but check up on him every now and then. Never ever leave a small child alone in a bath tub. Help him with his bath or entertain him while waiting for him to finish. If the phone rings, either let the machine pick it up, or answer it only when you have put the baby down on a safe spot or you can watch the child from a safe distance.
- Follow instructions to the letter. If the parents told you not to give the child sweets or junk food, then don’t give him some. If they told you he should be in bed by nine, then tuck him to bed by nine. If they told you he’s not allowed to watch TV, then help him finish his homework, or do a fun activity with him instead. Don’t make exceptions, because the child should understand that you are the authority, and you should be given respect even if the parents are not around. If you keep this up, parents will surely lean on you as a reliable babysitter.
- Never use the facilities at your own pleasure. You are there to baby sit and not to have a long phone chat, bubble bath, or movie marathon. Do not make personal phone calls, unless there’s an emergency. And even then, make your phone call short. When you watch TV or a movie with the child, but make sure it’s appropriate for him. No violence and adult themes. Do not let the child stay up late watching TV or movies. Do not raid their fridge and help yourself to what they have.
- Like a girl scout, always be prepared. Make sure the contact numbers and list of reminders are near the phone or a spot where you can easily see them. Have a flashlight and your own mobile phone handy in case of emergencies. You can bring extra materials like your books, homework, or something to pass the time when the child is sleeping and you’re just waiting for the parents to arrive.
- Take additional classes on childcare and lifesaving techniques. Sign up for classes like childcare, CPR, and first aid. Of course, you’ll never know when you’ll face a situation fraught with danger. It’s better to be prepared and well-equipped. The practical knowledge and skill you’ll gain in these classes will help you not only during babysitting sessions, but in everyday life as well. Plus, parents will feel more at ease to entrust their child to your care.
Being a responsible babysitter is no joke. You have been entrusted to care for someone else’s child within a period of time and you have to follow the rules set for you. Always be alert and vigilant about safety. With these important tips in mind, you will be the model babysitter that both parents and children alike trust.