When babysitting, there are different tasks and responsibilities that need doing if you're working at night time.
What to do when babysitting at night? You may need to prepare or order dinner, help children with homework, run the bedtime routine which may include a bath, brushing their teeth, putting on their pajamas, and reading a bedtime story. Once the children are asleep, you can tidy up a bit then have some downtime.
Babysitting At Night
Sometimes you might get asked to babysit during the day or in the afternoon. But for part-time babysitters, most of their work shifts will be in the evening and night time.
Most parents are looking to hire babysitters as a way to get away for a romantic dinner or date for a few hours. So the most common times that your services will be requested are Friday and Saturday nights.
Getting Dinner Ready
If you're babysitting at night, then one of the first tasks you might have is to prepare dinner.
There are a few different options for dinner, and usually, the parents will tell you what their preference is.
Heating up leftovers. The easiest dinners for a babysitter is when the parents leave you leftovers or frozen meals that you simply have to warm up for the children. Pop them in the microwave or oven and you're pretty much done.
Making a meal from scratch. Other parents may leave you the ingredients that you need to prepare a basic meal for the children from scratch. Normally it's simple dishes like spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, or hot dogs.
Ordering food. Alternatively, parents might leave their credit card or give you access to a food delivery app so that you're able to order take-out to be delivered to the house. Usually, they'll give a few suggestions of restaurants that the children like. Pizza is often a favorite for babysitters and kids alike!
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If you're babysitting during dinner time, it's usually assumed that you'll be sitting with the children and partaking in the meal yourself. After all, you probably didn't have much time to eat between when you got home from classes or work and when you had to start babysitting!
If you have food allergies or dietary restrictions, it's a good idea to let the family know. Especially if they'll be providing food for you. Or you can always let them know that you'll be bringing your own meal and snacks if you prefer.
If you're preparing food for kids, make sure you read our food safety guide for babysitters first.
Helping Children With Their Homework
If you're babysitting on a school night, then there's a good chance that the children you're watching will have homework to do.
They might be fine to work on it on their own. In that case, your only duty is making sure that they actually sit down and do the work.
Some children might have a desk and do their homework in their room. But I usually recommend ensuring they do their work at the dinner table where there are fewer gadgets and distractions, and you can keep a closer eye on them.
If the children you're watching struggle with a particular lesson, then you might have to help them out yourself.
Do you find yourself having to tutor the children you're watching on a regular basis? It might be worth asking for a bit of a babysitting raise since you're acting as an educator and doing more than what would be expected of most babysitters.
Parents are often happy to pay a bit extra to have you help the children out, instead of having to do it themselves!
If the thought of helping them with their math homework makes you anxious, don't worry. Even if it's been a few years since you've done long division yourself, there are usually plenty of free educational resources online. They can help give you the refresher you need to help them out.
The same is true of any other subject or topic that you might not understand at first glance.
Worst case scenario, you can do your best and their parents can have a look when they get home.
Night Time Babysitting Activities
Here are some babysitting activities that you may want to do with the kids you're watching between dinner and bedtime.
Go for a walk. If it's still early in the evening after you've made dinner and the sun is still up, you can consider taking the children for a walk.
You can just walk around the neighborhood, or go to a nearby park or playground to let them play outside for a bit. Either way, it's a good strategy to help burn off some of their extra energy from dinner so they'll be more ready for bed.
If you don't feel comfortable taking the children you're watching out in public, playing in the backyard is another option.
It's not really an option in the winter when it's cold outside and gets dark early. But in the summer, it's great to go outside and get some fresh air.
If you go outside, just make sure to ask the parents for a key so that you don't lock yourself out!
Games. Children of all ages, love playing different kinds of games. Most homes have at least a few board games. Let the children pick their favorite game and play with them. It should keep them busy for a few hours.
Try some of our recommended kids games if you're stuck for ideas.
Crafts. Parents might be willing to provide you with craft supplies that you can use to keep their children busy while babysitting. Or better yet, maybe you want to take the initiative and bring some crafting materials with you. See our giant list of kids craft activities if you’re looking for ideas.
Giving Children Their Baths
Parents might ask you to give the children a bath, especially if you will be putting them to bed before they get home.
Don't assume though that every child you babysit will need a bath if you're putting them to bed.
Sometimes children bath or shower at other times of the day or some parents may be uncomfortable with you helping their child with such an intimate task. Make sure that you get permission and consent from the parents first, otherwise, you could end up with a serious misunderstanding.
If you do need to help children with their bath, the extent of your involvement will mostly depend on the age of the children you're watching.
Older children don't need to be supervised and might even be able to take showers instead of baths.
It is important to keep in mind that children under 5 should never be left alone in the bathtub. For younger children, you'll want to prepare the bathwater for them and make sure it isn't too hot or too cold.
Try to keep the bathtime routine the same as what they are used to, including bubble bath and any of their favorite bathtime toys.
See our guide to bathing kids for babysitters and download our handy bathtime checklist.
Also, try one of our fun bathtime activities and be sure you read our kids water safety tips as a precaution.
The Bedtime Routine
When it's time for bed, have children put their pajamas on and brush their teeth. Make sure they use the bathroom before bed too. You may also want to check if they wear a night-time diaper to bed as some children still wear these even when toilet trained during the day (see our diaper changing guide for more info).
If they're young you may need to help them get dressed. But just like bathing, be sure to check with parents first to make sure they're comfortable with you supervising and helping their children while they're undressed.
Parents will normally have a set bedtime routine that they'll want you to follow, possibly including things like reading their child a bedtime story.
Bedtime is when you are most likely to experience resistance from children, who may not want to sleep. Following their regular routine will help get them into bed more easily.
Read our bedtime guide: How to get kids to bed when babysitting, for more sleeping tips for stubborn children.
Once children are in bed, it's a good idea to check up on them every half hour or so.
After the children are asleep, you can quietly clean up the dishes from dinner as well as cleaning up any mess from crafts or other activities. Parents will appreciate this a lot, and it usually only takes 5 or 10 minutes.
Just be sure that you're not being loud so that you don't wake up the children!
Once the children are in bed and you've cleaned up a bit, you can pretty much do whatever you want to keep yourself busy until the parents get home.
Read a book, catch up on some of your own homework, or relax. Just make sure it's relatively quiet so there's no risk of waking up the kids.
Learn what else you can do in your downtime by reading our article: Things to do after the kids are asleep, it’s amazing how productive you can be.
And be sure not to fall asleep on the job! ;)
Stay Safe On Your Way Home
Leaving an unfamiliar house at night to find your way home has its dangers.
Make sure you get a lift home or have a friend pick you up if you're not driving yourself.
If you're planning on walking, let a friend know exactly where you are at all times, talk to them on the phone on the way home and tell them about your day!
Read our safety guide: How to stay safe when babysitting for other essential tips.
What should I bring if I'm babysitting overnight?
Sometimes parents will go out of town and you may need to sleep over while babysitting. In that case, bring everything you'd normally need to stay in a hotel or anywhere else.
That includes things like your own toothbrush and toothpaste, toiletries, pajamas, a phone charger, and a spare set of clothes.
If you're staying over then make sure you read our overnight babysitting guide for lots of helpful tips.
What do I do if the children keep getting up and won't sleep?
You can help to avoid this by having children do some kind of physical activity before bed to tire themselves out a bit. Also, avoid giving them candy or anything with lots of sugar for at least a few hours before bedtime.
Children usually already have an established bedtime routine, and sticking to it can help make bedtime a smoother transition.
If you're still struggling to get children to bed, try to make bedtime fun. Find a way to make it into a game, play some calming music for them, or read them a story.
For extra help getting kids to sleep read our article: How to get kids to bed when babysitting, for lots more tips.
Had no sleep at all? Read our night shift babysitting guide for tips to get your sleep routine back in order, fast!
- Things to do after kids are asleep
- Can babysitters sleep on the job?
- A guide to NYE babysitting
- How to negotiate a good babysitting rate
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