Note: I wrote this post awhile back, but never got around to publishing it on the site. Nevertheless, I feel bad for totally neglecting this blog, so hopefully I will get back into the cycle of posting soon! Also, I decided to split my Babysitting Tips 101 into different parts, so look for Part 2 coming soon!
First of all, a little background: I know that there are plenty of sites out there already offering lots of tips and advice on this topic, I just figured I’d add my own two cents to the mix as somebody who has babysat for several years now and have decided to offer some of my own wisdom…most I wish someone had told me before I had entered the world of sitting.
Tip #1: Figure out if you want/are able to babysit!
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by the number of people who just don’t. Babysitting is not just about making some money – although making money is definitely a benefit of babysitting, it really shouldn’t be the deciding factor. You should babysit because you genuinely want to help take care of and connect with kids. Once you’ve decided that you definitely want to sit – and feel comfortable doing so, keeping in mind that you need to be comfortable being home alone and have full responsibility of kids – you’ll have to start thinking about whether or not babysitting is a realistic option.
Tip #2: Are you old enough?
This is a common question people ask when they begin to sit, so that’s why there’s a whole tip for it. 🙂 I started babysitting when I was 13 – but I have two younger siblings and had babysat for free for my parents several times before that. This can be a difficult question to figure out because there is no set age: most of the time it comes down to how responsible and mature you are. I would say that around 11 or 12 is an ok time to be a mother’s helper (Somebody who babysits for kids while the mother/father is still in the house, they usually get paid about half of the amount a regular babysitter would) and 13+ an ok time to “really” babysit on your own. Generally most parents want to hire somebody at least in high school, but I did get a few clients the summer going into 8th grade when I started. This is also something you should discuss with your parental units (heh heh) and make sure they’re ok with you sitting, especially if they’re the ones providing transportation. They also might want to set some rules for you – for example, when you can sit, who you can sit for, etc.
Tip #3: Take a First Aid/CPR/Babysitting Course
Yes, these courses usually do cost a little bit of money, but they are definitely worth it, especially if you want to become a serious sitter and want to have good credentials to show parents. (I got an official looking “badge” that had my name written on it and that I was certified in the American Red Cross Babysitter’s Course – which sounds a lot more professional than you might feel after the course…but it looks pretty impressive!) Most of the time they are only one day – the American Red Cross usually hosts the course through YMCA’s, Girl Scout programs, or local community/athletic centers. The course I took was specifically for babysitters, (titled the American Red Cross Babysitting Course) but there are so many First Aid/CPR course out there that it is generally pretty easy to find one in your area – just google the title and your city – that will also impress parents.
And even if you don’t think having “credentials” will help get more clients, it’s still good to take a course like this, as they do give you some good tips on being a babysitter – especially safety related ones. It will make you aware of a lot of different situations you might not have otherwise thought of, as well as give you hands on experience on first aid, rescue breathing, and possibly CPR. My course also went through how to change a diaper, which is always fun. 😀 Finally, if you’re still on the fence about sitting, this can be a good course to take so you can help decide if this is something you want to do.
Tip #4: Clients/Jobs!
Getting clients, especially when you start out, can be kind of difficult…but once you get a few “regular” clients who like you, often they will tell their fellow parents about your amazing skills, which is when word of mouth can work in your favor. But getting those original clients can be tough…here are a few tips to help get you started:
- When I began sitting, I made a mini “business card” with my name, credentials, and contact info. Then, I asked my parents to pass these out to their coworkers and friends who have young children. This is usually my #1 tip for new sitters – use your parents to help get you some jobs. One of my regular clients is a couple who used to work with my parents, and I’ve gotten the most work from them. This tip can really work! It’s also good because you can at least partly trust them if they’re your parent’s friends – it’s a lot safer, than, say, posting your information online (which I would never really recommend, unless it’s through e-mail to contacts you know) or posting your information on a public bulletin board. I see a lot of people who do this, but even if you live in a small town, I still wouldn’t suggest it. It’s not very safe, nor is putting up your phone number or e-mail address for anyone to use to contact you. Stick with people you at least have partial connection to. (For example, friend of a friend)
- If you have younger siblings, see if you can somehow contact your younger sibling’s friend’s parents. Sometimes your parents can also get ahold of their class list with contact information, and you can always look around and see if they need jobs for their young children.
- Check with your neighbors – if you live in a big neighborhood, chances are there’s somebody who’s looking for a sitter. Look around and see if they have young children to hand out your card to.
Tip #5 will be coming soon in Part 2 – what did you guys think of this advice style post? Please let me know!!