Now that my eldest has entered into high school, her babysitting dance card is starting to get full with requests to watch other people’s kiddos on most weekends this fall. I guess that’s one of the rites of passage for tweens who are now becoming well-sought after commodities by other moms seeking reliable babysitters for weekly date nights.
Last year, my daughter took a babysitting certification course with a professional instructor at our local recreation center, which gave her the street cred she needed to open up shop and start soliciting moms for her business. CPR or First Aid Courses in CPR are offered in a variety of locations for free. Local fire departments are usually a great resource for these training courses for teenagers. Many areas offer babysitting courses through social services or even high school counselors. Courses like these, or related childcare development training, can be very beneficial for the prospective babysitter in your family.
Armed with her certification and the motivation to make a little extra spending cash, my daughter was well on her way to becoming a babysitting mogul primed for an upcoming episode of “Shark Tank” – or so I thought. But I have to hand it to her – she has a real heart for working with little children. She even serves in our Children’s Ministry at church to work with the kindergarteners because she simply enjoys it. She’s patient, kind and keeps the children engaged and entertained – important assets for moms scouting out up-and-coming babysitter recruits. (Moms in pursuit of that rare night-out-on-the-town want to keep that playing roster full).
Since it wasn’t that long ago that I was actually a procurer of the available babysitting talent pool, I find myself on both sides of the fence. On one hand I know what skill set I looked for in a qualified babysitter when my girls were younger. While on the other hand, I’ve learned lessons from my own daughter about what tweens can do as “vendors” to help catapult them into babysitter super stardom.
Here are 12 tips you can share with the babysitter in your household that just might turn your tween into a neighborhood rock star on the Sippy Cup Circuit.
Who Are They? A good idea for your babysitting tween is to get to know the family he or she will be working for prior to the job. This will help determine if the job will be a good fit. Let your child know that it’s okay to turn down a babysitting job if she doesn’t think it’s a right choice. Listen to those instincts.
Plan ahead. Before your tween begins her babysitting job, encourage her to consider the age and gender of the kids she’s babysitting. She might try to think of activities that will appeal to everyone. Even if she’s sitting for just one child, try to plan something fun ahead of time to avoid default activities like TV or video games.
Punctuality. A babysitting job should be viewed like any other. Parents don’t want to be kept waiting if their babysitter is late. Your child needs to know that if he or she is late, it could cause a ripple effect making everyone else late as well.
Emergency Contacts. After she accepts the job, one of first things your child needs to establish is who to call in the event of an emergency. This includes where the parents are going to be while your kid is babysitting. Of course, locking all doors, windows, and ignoring strangers at the door can keep the household safe.
Rules of the Home. Your child needs to know and follow the rules of the home that he or she is babysitting in. These rules were developed for a reason and it’s not your teen’s place to question what works for the other family.
Family Communication. Your child needs to keep in communication with you as well as his or her employer. Keeping you informed can help eliminate any miscommunication as to what is going on.
Be engaged. Remind your tween to put down the cell phone, unplug the iPad and tune into the kids that he or she is watching. Your tween should know that her role while babysitter is “caretaker.” Limit distractions and keep eyes on the kids at all times. Encourage your tween to avoid texting or calling people so she can stay committed to her main duty, since kids can sometimes get into trouble quickly.
Be Entertaining. Providing entertainment for the one being babysat can help your teen keep control of the situation. Develop a good list of fun activities that can keep the child engaged.
Foods. One important aspect of babysitting is knowing what foods the child can and cannot eat. Your babysitter doesn’t want to inadvertently cause an allergic reaction if he or she is preparing meals or snacks.
Feedback. Parents appreciate honest feedback about how the day of babysitting went. Teach your child that communication with a parent about the situation is not the same as being a “tattle-tale.” Encourage your tween to give an honest report when the parents get home. Though it may feel embarrassing to admit if kids were difficult, it is vital that parents know the truth so they can respond in a way that fits in with their child-raising beliefs.
Payment. Most babysitting jobs can be negotiable when it comes to pay, but your child should have a basic idea of what her time is worth.
Work it and have fun. When your tween is babysitting, she is a role model. So remind your child to just be herself and let her light shine. Be kind, gentle, and patient. Smile, laugh, and listen. Children are very impressionable, so encourage your tween to lead by example.
Lastly, make sure your child knows that he or she always needs to have your permission before taking a babysitting job. Although much of this may seem like babysitting common sense, you’d be amazed how often these simple tips are overlooked.
If your own child is preparing her own babysitting job, make sure she’s ready for the situation. Like any other job, the more knowledge she has, the more successful she’ll be. And who knows, your kid just might end up on “Shark Tank” too!