The Essentials for Your First Babysitting Event!

Congratulations, you’re on your way to your first babysitting event! Nervous?  With technology today it is safer than ever to be a babysitter!  Here’s some advice to help you have a fun, safe event!

  1. Meet the family! –When you arrive you’ll be greeted at the door by the kids who are so excited to meet you. It’s easy to jump in to the fun of getting to know the kids, but be sure to plan ahead to make sure you have enough to time speak with Mom and Dad!  You will want to be sure you know the rules of the house- bedtime, bath, TV time.  Even if you are around these kids regularly, you may not have their routine memorized.  Be sure to ask questions!  Ask where their pajamas are or if they have a favorite book to read, this will help your event go smoothly.  Some families may have already written out a Family Information Packet that can be used as a guide for sitters, so double check!
  2. Get the emergency contact info, address, and phone numbers – Try to think about when you would need emergency contact information-if there is a list posted by the phone, would you be able to find it quickly and know who to call if there was a problem? If you can’t get ahold of the parents, who should you call?  Do any of the kids have medication they need to take or allergies you should be aware of?  Where is the nearest hospital?  You hope to never need the information, but it provides some serious peace of mind when you know where to find the information.
  3. Know if there’s a landline! Many families only have cell phones!  In 2013, it was reported that 41% of homes in the USA did not have a landline!  So make sure your phone is fully charged and you might want to grab a charger to keep in your bag, just in case!  Take a picture of the emergency contact information so that if you are out of the house, you still have the information.
  4. After the parents leave, secure the house. Make sure all outside doors and windows are shut and locked.  Seems like common sense, but the one time you forget to check might be the one night there’s a storm that blows open the back door!  A quick walkthrough and check of the locks will put any doubts to bed!
  5. Do not answer the door unless expressly told by the parents they are expecting someone! – Again, seems like common sense, but it’s important to remind yourself. When in doubt, call the parents and have them on the phone when you answer the door.  This can even include other kids from the neighborhood.  It is easy to think it is no big deal to add a couple other kids, but depending on how you have arranged to charge for the event, adding additional kids may add to the parent’s bill.  If you haven’t discussed it beforehand, it is always better to ask them to come back another time.
  6. Come prepared to have fun! When you called to confirm the babysitting event, did you double check what the kids interests are?  Stop and pick up a coloring book of their favorite action hero to use as a wind-down activity when you are getting the kids ready for bed or grab a couple of kites with their favorite characters on them to have lots of fun in the sun!  Adding a personal touch to the activities you bring to an event doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can make a great impression on the kids, which will translate to the parents!
  7. Have fun and stay safe! – There is no comprehensive list of all the safety tips for babysitting, but you can be better prepared for sitting events by taking a local CPR & First Aid class or the babysitting course offered by the Red Cross. When in doubt ask questions!  The parents are more than happy to give information to ensure a safe event for their kids.
  8. Make a great exit! – Parents notice when they come home to a clean house where the dishes are done. While you don’t want the focus of a babysitting event to be all about cleaning, taking fifteen minutes after the kids go to bed to tidy up the kitchen and start the dishwasher can really make a lasting impression on parents!  When the parents come home, let them know what happened during the sitting event.  Take a few minutes to wrap up your evening with a synopsis of what you and the kids did during the time they were away.  This can also emphasize that you didn’t watch television all night and they can talk to the kids about the activities the next day!

When it comes to babysitting events, it can definitely get easier with time!  You will learn what fits your style best and be ready for whatever disasters- big or small come your way.  Technology makes it easier to be safe but always remember that the kids are most excited to play with you when you are excited to play with them!  Don’t waste babysitting events playing on your phone- play with the kids!

Babysitting Summer Safety!

Summer is just around the corner and it’s going to be a warm one! Here are few safety tips and reminders of how to beat the heat and stay safe this summer!

  1. Emergency Training- Make sure you CPR and First Aid training is up to date going into summer season!  It’s always better to be prepared and never have to use the knowledge than to really need it and not have it.  Practice makes perfect, so be sure to get hands-on training!
  2. Water safety-  Many families have pools in their backyard, make sure you know the rules and if there are child locks.  Never leave children around or in the pool alone under any circumstance!  When planning for the water, be sure to ask parents what the children’s skills levels are and if there are any special instructions for water play.  Some children may need earplugs or swim diapers.
  3. Sun Protection- Wear it, reapply it every 2-3 hours, and learn to love it!  Be sure to get at least SPF 15 with UVA and UVB protection. After checking with the parents that the child isn’t allergic to sunscreen, be sure to apply it if you know you are going outside.  Most sunscreens recommend applying it 15 minutes before going in the sun, so plan ahead!  The most important part here is remembering to use it; small children likely need to be helped with the application to ensure even coverage and reapplication. (Don’t forget the tops of their ears and the back of their necks!)  Sun safety will promote good health habits for life!
  4. Heat-related Illness- Make sure to drink lots of water and stop for breaks in the shade when playing outside. Young children (under 4) should be closely monitored when playing to verify they are not becoming overheated.  If a child is overheated, they may be susceptible to heat rashes, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  Know the symptoms of each and how to prevent or treat it!  1:00 pm to 5:00 pm can be the hottest part of the day in the summer; try to stay inside or enjoy shady activities during this time.  Also check the heat of the equipment if you go to a playground by pressing the back of your hand to the surface for 5 seconds.  If it it too hot for your hand, it is too hot to play on.  You want to make sure the kids won’t get burnt bottoms on that slide!swing set sitters
  5. Bug bites- With the warm, sunny weather comes bugs! Ticks, mosquitoes, and chiggers are just a few of the bug bites you might see over the summer.  Make sure you apply insect repellent before going outside, especially in grassy areas.  Always check for bites when returning inside; many of these bugs can carry disease like Lyme Disease and West Nile, so it’s important to protect yourself and the children you are watching!  Beware of allowing the children into tall grass, as larger predators like snakes may not be easily seen until too late!
  6. Poison Ivy/Oak- Make sure you know how to recognize poisonous plants, and if you or the kids run into it, how to treat it! While typically not life threatening unless there is a severe allergy, you still want to be sure to let the parents know so that they can continue treatment and if possible, to have them remove the poisonous playing

Always stay in communication with the parents so they are up to date with any concerns. No matter how hot or cold your summer is, be prepared by following these babysitting summer safety tips!

The Top 3 Signs of a Bad Babysitter

You’ve landed the dream babysitting job. Congrats! Now, how do you keep it? By making sure that you’re the best babysitter the family has ever had. Or, you could make these signature bad babysitter mistakes and find yourself out of a job.

#1 — Ignore the Kids for Your Mobile Device
A bad babysitter is notorious for using her smartphone instead of playing with the children she’s been hired to care for. Rather than sit around and text or play Candy Crush all night, put the phone in your bag and break out some board games for everyone to play. Keep in mind, too, that the children will most definitely report back to their parents a play-by-play of everything that happened—or didn’t. Make sure they have a great report to give.

#2 — Empty the Fridge
You have been hired to care for the family’s kids, not eat them out of house and home. A bad babysitter will help herself to anything and everything she wants from the fridge or pantry. Avoid that faux pas and instead bring your own snacks. Save the family’s food for the family.

#3 — Invite People Over
The most disrespectful thing a sitter can do is invite her friends or, worse, her boyfriend over to hang out while she’s on the job. Even if you’re caring for a sleeping baby, you shouldn’t have guests over to distract you from your duties. It’s best to save your social time for another time.

The best way to ensure a successful babysitting gig is to make sure you do the job you’re hired to do. And that is, to pay attention to and interact with the children. Let the bad babysitters make the mistakes; that’s all the more work you’ll get!

Have we forgotten any mistakes? Share your suggestions for what NOT to do in the comments section.


Determining a Fair Babysitting Rate

Babysitting is often a person’s first real job. That is, it’s the first time that they are working for a wage. And since it’s not a job with a company, no rate is set in stone. This means that you need to determine the babysitting rate and how much—or little—you’re willing to work for. But how do you determine a fair babysitting rate? Take these tips to heart when you’re trying to establish your market value.

Location is (Almost) Everything
As with most things, where you live will help determine how much you can fairly charge for a babysitting job. For instance, if you live in New York City, where the cost of living is higher than, say, St. Joseph, Missouri, you can easily charge around $10 (or more!). But if you live in a smaller, more rural town, you’ll likely need to adjust your asking price to something more reasonable.

Numbers Matter
What babysitting rate you set is often dependent upon how many children you’re caring for. If you have only one child, you’ll not charge as much as if you have five children on your watch. Use your best judgment, though. If you have five children versus just one, you can’t charge five times what you normally would. Be fair to both yourself and the family.

Do You Have Any Experience?
In life, the more experience you have, the more value you bring. And it’s no different for babysitting. If this is your first gig, you’ll need to offer a fairly low rate to simply get your foot in the door, so to speak. But if you’ve been sitting since before the dawn of time, you’ve earned your stripes and are more marketable. You have the knowledge and the know-how, and parents are willing to pay more for this experience.

Ultimately, you are the one who will determine what your time is worth. The key is to be fair to both sides so that each party feels they’re getting a fair value.

How much do you charge your babysitting families? Share your suggestions for setting a fair price in the comments section.

Study Support: 4 Tips Every Babysitter Should Know

Schooldesk Empty Book BackpackHomework is a part of life with school-age children. As a babysitter, there will be times where you will need to provide study support for the children you’re caring for. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind to help with this.

Does the Child Have Homework Struggles?
The best way to provide good study support is to know where the child is having issues. With that information you can find ways to help guide them and give them the assistance they need.

Work on Their Level
It is important to work on the same level as the child because if you talk below their level you will bore them. At the same time, talking above their level will do them no good either. Ask them frequently if they understand what you are saying to keep them on track with you.

Use Real World Comparisons
For many children, it is easier to grasp a concept if they can see a real life scenario. For instance, if you are teaching a child about subtraction, grabbing some Goldfish crackers and having them eat the subtracted ones can be helpful.

Use Incentives
Incentives are a great tool in study support no matter what the age of a child. It could be something as simple as getting to play video games with you when they have finished their homework or going outside to play their favorite game. Using incentives can help keep the child on track for studying as well as for behavior.

Most kids can agree that homework is no fun, especially if it’s challenging. But by taking these suggestions to heart, which will enable you to provide better study support, the work can go by quicker and easier and you’ll be able to get to the fun stuff, like playing!


What study support tactics do you use with the kids you babysit? Share them in the comments section.


Childcare Discipline: What Babysitters Should Know


CREDIT: Tiffany Terry

It’s a fact: children will act out. So there might be a need for discipline during childcare. As a sitter, you should know the appropriate ways to discipline a child when you are babysitting.

Talk With the Parent
Talk to the parent to find out if they have certain rules and punishments that they use in the home. This can help you maintain discipline consistency. While you may not feel comfortable with all punishments, you will have a basic guideline to use.

RELATED: Top Babysitter Tips for Parental Peace of Mind

Redirection: the First Course of Action
Rather than jumping to a punishment, the first thing you should always do is redirect a child to a more appropriate activity. For instance, if you have told them not to jump on the furniture and they are now doing this, send them outside to expend some energy.

Find Discipline Techniques That Make Them Think
If you are repeatedly telling a child to stop doing something, then the best thing you can do is find a discipline technique that will cause them to think about their actions. For instance, if a child is hitting their sibling, a common childcare technique is time out. This gives the child time to think about why they hit their sibling. Perhaps have them follow it up with a written letter of apology.

Remember the Age
The biggest thing you must do is remember the age of the child being disciplined as this will play a big role in what methods you use. Even if you use time out, remember the rule of one minute per year of age.

Ultimately, all children have their moments. If you’re faced with a situation that requires discipline, knowing how to handle it by discussing tactics with the parents ahead of time will get your prepared for the inevitable time when it happens.

Have you ever had to discipline a child you’re babysitting for? How did you handle it? Share in the comments section.


When Pets are Included

SeekingSitters_Dog_450There will be times when you will have to watch both children and pets. When this happens, you should be prepared with some of the ways to make the situation easier.

Find Out About the Pets
Ask as many questions as possible to get a better understanding of everyone’s needs, pets included. For instance, you may find that the pet needs to be walked every hour to avoid having an accident. You should also ask if there are any specific rules for the children with the pets.

Ask About Treats
Sometimes the easiest way to get on the pet’s good side is by bribing them with a treat or two. Make sure to ask if there are treats available for the pets, and how many its allowed to have. It is also good to know if they get treats for certain behaviors so you can keep up with the rules of the house.

Find Ways to Get the Children Involved
A great way to make your job easier is to have the children play with you and the pets. This can help you to learn more about the animal and the children. Talk to them about what the pet likes to do as well as what they like to do with the pet. For instance, you may find that the dog’s favorite game is fetch and which child loves to race with the dog to try and get the ball first. This can be a great way to spend time together and keep both children and animals entertained.

Ultimately, you’re there to care for the kids first, but if pets are a part of the family as well, preparedness is the key to ensuring that your job is enjoyable, not a hassle.

Do you sit for a family with pets? What tips can you share with fellow sitters? Share them in the comments section below.

5 Indoor Activities Babysitters Should Know

inside playingWhile taking children outside can be a lot of fun, babysitters know that there are times when this is simply not an option, such as on rainy days. This is why it is helpful to know some great indoor activities that you can do at times like these.

There are many different types of sculpting materials that you can bring with you for sitting. If store-bought sculpting dough seems too common, there are other options, such as foam or clay. You can make this yourself or buy them at a craft store.

RELATED: Crafting Up a Fun Indoor Activity

There are a number of books that are great for babysitters to read to children; it’s always good to bring some options along with you when you babysit. You might be surprised at how much the children enjoy being read to. Also, keep in mind that children learning to read will enjoy getting to help read the book as well.

Spy Training
This is a fun activity that helps kids develop their coordination while having fun. You simply tape red yarn in lines across the hallway in different directions. Then they can maneuver through the maze just like the spies do with laser beams in the movies.

Build a Fort
Every child loves forts. Babysitters can help build a great fort where they can play with their toys or simply make believe that they are the king or queen. Use items like couch cushions and spare blankets to make a fort as big or small as you like.

There are many sites where you can download and print out coloring pages for children with different themes or characters. This is helpful for children who want to color the same pages as their sibling or friend as you can print out multiple copies of the same page.

What are some of the best indoor activities that you enjoy doing with children? Share them in the comments section below.


The Terrible-Twos: Sugar and Spice and Not Everything Nice

Toddlers tend to look their cutest at the age that their behavior is their ugliest: the terrible-twos. The worrisome news of finding out you are babysitting a child stuck in this defiant stage of meltdowns and hissy-fits can seem like a recipe for trouble; there are some things only a mother’s love can handle.

Hope is not lost though, with these tips you can master the most artful, and trust me it is an art, way of keeping your cool as well as the kid’s.

36467109Make sure you have communicated well with the parents before you’re on your own for the night. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and make sure you know all the child’s likes and dislikes! Cover all the basics and then some: what to feed them, their favorite toys, their bed/nap time, what calms them down and what some signs are that a meltdown might be on its way.

36467110Since you’re not the mom, it is important to approach the situation as catering to whatever the child needs. If dancing around with their stuffed animal on your head makes them happy, dance the night away.


36467111Keep the little spitfire busy at all times! The busier they are, the less likely there is a chance for them to think about the absence of their parents. Boredom leads to fussiness and that is not your friend. Keeping them active will also make it easier when it is time to put them down for a nap or bedtime. They won’t throw a fit if they are actually tired from lots of activities!

36467112Don’t be afraid to regress back to your youth when it comes to playing around with a child! Have fun with the cutie and don’t be embarrassed to not act your age. The better you can get along and relate to them, the easier it will be on the job and your stress level.

Photo credit © Monkey Business Images |

Time Out Stress Relief for Moms

Time Out Stress Relief for Moms

The dog is chewing on the area rug.  The kitchen smells like dinner is burning and the dirty plates in the sink make you wonder if there are any clean plates or cups in the house. The kids are fighting over toys, and the house needs to be picked up so it won’t look like a disaster. Does this scene sound familiar? Oh yeah, and you’re behind schedule!

A mom’s life can be very stressful and built up tension is not healthy. You need a little down time (besides sleep!).

When Mom needs a time-out to relieve stress consider these options:

1.   Dance Your Heart Out!

Try boogying in your car to your favorite music (just ignore the stares from other drivers) or choreographing your own routine in the family room to your favorite iTunes.

2.   Coffee Shop.

Most people visit a coffee shop to chill and relax while sipping a favorite drink, reading or listening to the music.  The atmosphere of most coffee shops is a welcome change from work site or the house.

3.   Blow Steam Off. 
Have a mini workout for 15 to 20 minutes and do jumping jacks, pushups, jumping rope, or beating a nerf ball against a garage wall with a tennis racquet.  (Nerf balls are definitely less of a liability than a tennis ball and less likely to break windows.)

4.   Pamper Yourself. 
Indulge yourself with ice cream or a chocolate bar, or read your favorite book.  Maybe get online and look up a movie to see, go shopping, or meet somewhere to chat with a good friend.

5.   Schedule Quiet Time. 
Set the timer for 20 minutes and let your children know that you need some quiet time in your bedroom.  Most kids honor your request and are okay with this.

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