Babysitting Rules

Many parents or guardians will load you down with more babysitting rules for their children than you knew existed. That doesn't mean the kids will adhere to them voluntarily, though they may. The flip side is the parents who are in a rush or assume you know their rules already and more or less tell you "good luck!" as they fly out the door. Here are two sets of rules: a set for the babysitter to enforce, and a set for the babysitter. These rules ought to help keep everybody in line until the parents return.

For the Kids:

Any rules their parents made for them, keep them. Easy. However, if the parents didn't leave any rules, it's up to you and your judgement. Babysitting is a dangerous job if you don't lay down the law. This list is a good "go-by" set of babysitting rules for the kids.

1. Make them pick up after themselves before getting out another item to play with.

2. Nip unruly behavior in the bud before things get out of hand.

3. Be wary when children tell you, "Our mom lets us do it!" She might... or she might not. Go with your gut and always consider the consequences of allowing them to do something that the parent actually does not allow.

4. Unless you are quite comfortable with the idea, don't let the children have friends over while you're sitting, unless the parents have already arranged it.

5. Likewise, don't let them go to the neighbor's house unless all has been pre-arranged between the parent and the neighbor. Eventually you may get to know the neighbors and get a feel of whether they mind if the kids you're babysitting drop by, but it's a good idea not to let them stay longer than 30 minutes or so.

6. Don't let them play video games/watch TV/stay on the computer the entire time you're there. Switch up the activities so they are away from screens at least part of the time. For ideas, see Babysitting Activities.

7. Don't allow them to stay up late. Not only is this unfair to the parents, but it's unfair to the child (though he doesn't realize it), as he will be tired and likely grumpy the next day.

Take a look at these rules for extra tips.

For the Babysitter:

If you're babysitting in the first place, the idea is that you are responsible and use good judgement, but we can all use reminders now and again on how to be on best behavior.

1. Be sure that the children understand the babysitting rules, or the babysitting guidelines set in place when their parents leave.

2. Don't let your boyfriend come over, even if the parents say it's OK. *For babysitting help, you could ask the parents prior to coming over whether a friend who also babysits may join you for the evening.

3. Don't drink any alcohol, even if the parents say it's OK.

4. Only use the phone if you must--kids are trained to know this is a no-no on the babysitter's part and will likely tell the parents, or worse, may take advantage of the fact that you're distracted.

5. Don't take the children on any sort of excursion (out to eat, amusement park, to the mall) unless pre-OKed by the parents.

6. Don't let the children disappear in their rooms or elsewhere longer than 15 minutes at a time. They may want privacy, but you need to make sure they're behaving. A gentle knock on the door while opening it will do. They should not be allowed to lock doors.

7. In any emergency, call 911, and call the parents immediately afterward.

8. WATCH YOUR MOUTH. Not only for curse words, which should never be used, but also for random tidbits of personal information that will go straight to the parents.

These babysitting rules should provide a zone of comfort, safety, and fun for the children and the sitter.

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