Babysitting Tips

This Web site is full of a variety of babysitting tips, but the idea of this page is to help you think outside of the box. The Starting Out page offers a great list of DOs and DO NOTs, which are great babysitting tips, but this page goes a little deeper.

1. Quickly Connect
One of the first tips for babysitting is to quickly connect with the children. Even if you feel fairly comfortable around kids, knowing characteristics of children regarding their ages, sex and birth orders can be a helpful way to bond. If you’re clueless what to talk about with an 11-year-old boy, an easy starter is to ask if he plays any sports. No? How about any instruments? No? Does he like to read? What types of books? And go from there. These babysitting tips should help you create a comfortable atmosphere for the kids as you get to know them and care for them.

2. Guidance on Discipline
Maybe the most difficult of all babysitting tips is determining how to discipline children. This child discipline guide offers tips for babysitting when the going gets rough, as well as how to mitigate problems as they arise. Children behave differently when their parents aren't home, and that's a fact!

3. Age Appropriate?
Another babysitting tip you don't find many places is help on figuring out what is age appropriate for particular ages of children. This isn't made easier by the fact that multiple children means multiple levels of maturity and interests. The main point of this babysitting tip is to please the small crowd and not to give the young ones nightmares! This is especially important when deciding what to watch on TV, what movies are best, and whether the kids are allowed to play certain video games and computer games.

4. Emergency Preparedness
There is no sure-proof way to prevent accidents from ever occurring (especially around kids), so the way to look at is to stop dangerous behavior immediately; know all the numbers for parents, poison control, doctors, etc.; and to remain calm. Remember that parents have likely seen and dealt with nearly everything that might happen to their children and home, so never try to hide something from them out of fear or embarrassment. In most cases, accidents and babysitting emergencies aren't due to a lack of emergency preparedness.

5. Cleaning Up - What's Expected
Remember, this page is called Babysitting Tipsnot Cleaning Tips. We all strive to do our bests for the families we’re babysitting or nannying. However, sometimes there simply isn’t time to clean the kitchen or living room. If it comes down to a choice of scrubbing a pot or watching the kids, the choice is obvious. Not cleaning doesn’t mean you’re a bad sitter--sometimes it means you’re a better sitter. Save the cleaning for when the children are in bed (unless it’s a “mess” that has to be cleaned up immediately).

As for how much to clean. Remember that you are being paid to watch the children. Light cleaning when the children are asleep, or picking up toys with the kids, is OK. Try to have the kitchen looking nice when the parents get home. Unless specifically asked, however, don’t become Merry Maid when the parents leave. Some people don’t like when another person cleans for them; others may feel obligated to tip you. Tidying is a great idea, but full-out cleaning is not necessary.

6. Angels on Board
When you are responsible for picking up carpool or taking someone else’s kids anywhere, there are some simple things to keep in mind that will make the experience much easier.
1. Know where you’re going. Whether that means mapping it out before you leave, using the GPS, or calling the parent, make sure you know.
2. Leave early. Even if you think you know where a child’s karate class is, things could get confusing, or traffic could be bad. Or, you could run into a situation where a misbehaving child may not tell you where his/her friend lives, because they don’t want their friend to go home. Don’t get in this situation.
3. Always make the kids buckle up. No questions.
4. Don’t allow them to blare the radio or a movie (if the automobile provides). You need to concentrate on the road.
5. Never EVER speed.
6. Don’t talk on the phone or text. Kids will delight in telling their parents that their babysitter used the phone while driving.
7. Depending on the length of the trip, you may have some car games prepared.

7. Overnight Stay
When parents ask you to stay the night, or several nights, it brings forth a separate set of babysitting tips: ones that have to do with pay. You’ll likely negotiate a pay scale slightly different than what you charge per hour. (Most people agree you wouldn’t pay someone as much when they are sleeping as when they are babysitting). Typical for a bigger city may be anywhere from $50 - $75 per night, plus $100 for the day.

Scenario 1: You get to the house at 7:00 p.m., spend the night, take the children to school the next day and then are finished. The parents should pay $75 - $100. (Several hours of being awake/cooking/driving, plus spending the night there).

Scenario 2: You come on a Thursday afternoon and don’t leave until the following Monday afternoon. You’ve spent 4 days and 3 nights. You should make $500 - $700, depending on the prices you negotiate for “nights” and “days.”

*From 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. is 12 hours. If you normally charge $10 an hour, that’s already $120.00 for the daytime. Charging $100 for the “day” and $50 for the “night” (when you are sleeping) is not too much.

8. When Kids Say Weird Things
You can usually tell when a child is being mischievous or naughty, versus when a child is being curious or thoughtful. Sometimes a child will ask difficult questions, say things he or she may not realize are inappropriate, or weird you out somehow. When kids say weird things, try to remember these conversational babysitting tips, and make sure to tell the parents if something the child says really worries you.

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