I think that babysitting is a fantastic job, but don't let me or anyone else decide for you. You'll need to figure out for yourself if it's appropriate for your situation.
Is babysitting right for you?
The most important question to ask yourself before becoming a babysitter is whether you enjoy spending time with children or not. You should also consider whether you have time in your schedule if you're active enough to chase children around and if you're responsible enough.
In this article, I'll be going over questions you should ask yourself to decide if babysitting is really right for you. The more of these questions that you answer yes to, the more likely it is that babysitting is a great fit for you.
Do You Like Spending Time With Children?
A great babysitter must love kids.
Don't get into babysitting because you think it pays well or you think it will be an easy job where you just sit and watch tv all night. If that's the case, you aren't getting into babysitting for the right reasons.
Some people love interacting and spending time with children. Other people don't, and that's okay too. But if you are neutral towards kids or have negative feelings about them, babysitting isn't right for you. Children are very perceptive and will know if their babysitter doesn't care or like spending time with them.
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Are You Old Enough?
You might be eager to get your first job. Babysitting may be the only job that you think people will consider you for, aside from delivering newspapers or mowing people's lawns.
But if you're under 13, you might not be ready for babysitting yet. And in some places, the law might even prevent you from becoming a babysitter at younger ages.
Some parents will consider hiring babysitters as young as 9 to 12. But before you start babysitting in this age range, you need to ask yourself if you're really ready. Taking care of other children is a lot of responsibility. Are you really prepared to handle emergency situations where someone gets sick or hurt, or if the electricity goes out?
If not, you may want to wait a few years before you start babysitting. That's not to say that you won't make a great babysitter in the future. It’s a good idea to get some experience first looking after siblings or relatives, and then you'll be more equipped to handle a babysitting job when you're a bit older.
Still not sure if you're old enough to start babysitting? check out my article Babysitting Age: When Can You Start? (Laws & Maturity Requirements) for more details.
Do You Have Time In Your Schedule?
If you have a lot of after-school activities that you participate in, or you need a lot of time to focus on studying and doing your homework, then maybe babysitting isn't right for you at this time in your life. You might be able to babysit sometimes, but then take time off when things get too busy and stressful to fit it in.
Parents appreciate flexible babysitters who are available on short notice, or able to stay later than expected. Extra flexibility usually comes with better pay and getting offered more babysitting hours than other sitters who might say no more often.
Some parts of your schedule are outside of your control, like certain nights of the week that you have basketball practice.
In other parts of your schedule, you can plan around babysitting. If you know that most parents want you to babysit on Friday nights and weekends, you can focus on getting all of your homework and other responsibilities out of the way during the week. That way you're more likely to be available for any last-minute babysitting jobs that come up. You can also plan social time with your friends during the week to leave weekends open for babysitting too.
Are You Physically Active?
Children have tons of energy and they're always on the go. A good babysitter needs to be able to keep up, day or night. If you don't have the stamina or strength to play and chase kids around all night, babysitting might be too physically demanding for you.
You'll probably be too physically tired to babysit after a big sports match, or if you stayed up late studying for an exam the night before.
Do You Have The Basic Qualifications?
While not required, I would strongly recommend that all new babysitters get their basic qualifications before they start working. This includes taking a babysitting course, as well as basic CPR and First Aid training.
On most other jobs, you would receive on-the-job training that lets you know what tasks will be required of you and how to do them correctly. But with babysitting, that's not the case. Most of the time you're left alone with children and it's assumed that you know enough to fend by yourself. So I feel that taking a babysitting course is a must-do to have a good understanding of what a babysitter's job is, and how to do it.
See my recommended babysitting courses.
For more reasons why you should have babysitting qualifications, be sure to read my article Can You Babysit Without Qualifications?
Are You Responsible?
Parents want a babysitter who is trustworthy and dependable. They are putting you in charge of their child, one of the most important things in their life. So they have high expectations for how you will handle the situation.
If you're not responsible and constantly falling short of parent's expectations, chances are you won't be getting many calls back for repeat babysitting jobs. You also won't get recommended to other parents either.
If you just aren't at a point where you're mature enough to put your own needs aside to take care of a child, that's okay. But babysitting might not be right for you yet.
Are You Punctual?
Showing up on time is part of being responsible. But it's so important that I think it deserves its own heading as well.
As a parent, there's nothing worse than planning a nice evening out for weeks, only to have your babysitter not show up on time. Then I have to ask myself if they're just running late, did they forget, or are they not showing up at all? And it leads to a stressful situation of trying to get in touch with them to find out what's going on.
As a babysitter, you need to keep track of when you're working and be sure to show up a little early. If parents are having to show up late to their dinner reservations or miss the start of a play because of you, they probably won't be hiring you to babysit for them again.
Are You Playful?
Both children and parents are looking for babysitters with a strong imagination, who are good at coming up with activities, crafts, and games. Babysitters typically get paid higher than minimum wage, so they're expecting to get a playful and interactive babysitter for what they pay.
Just sitting a child down with a tablet or in front of the television isn't the kind of experience that parents are looking for. They want something engaging, active, and ideally healthy for their children.
Do You Have Experience?
Babysitting isn't just a matter of showing up. There are skills, supplies, and other things that you need to prepare in advance. If you have basic qualifications as described above, that's a good start. But nothing is a substitute for actual on-the-job babysitting experience.
Parents want experienced babysitters and will usually pay more for someone with a few years of experience, as opposed to a brand new sitter. They want someone who has the knowledge to deal with any unexpected situations that come up, and keep calm while dealing with it.
Of course, everybody has to start somewhere. If you don't have any experience, see if you can babysit for relatives and family members before offering to babysit for strangers. You might also consider being a mother's helper, which is basically a babysitter who works while the parent is still in the home. That way you can easily ask questions if anything unexpected comes up.
Are You Trustworthy?
If it isn't already obvious, babysitting comes with a lot of power and responsibility. What other job comes with the ability to go through your bosses’ closet and drawers if you wanted to? But a good babysitter needs to be trustworthy enough that parents aren't worried you'll go snooping through their stuff or discussing private matters from inside the home with outside parties.
Parents need to have trust and confidence that you'll keep their children safe. They want a babysitter who does what they say they'll do and doesn't lie or keep things from them.
Are You Empathetic?
Children are highly sensitive, and babysitters need to be able to relate and sympathize with them. You can't just laugh or brush a child's idea or fear off as silly. You've got to be able to respond to their concerns in a loving and kind way.
A good babysitter knows how children feel, and how different decisions will affect them. You have to know how to pick your battles and do what's best for the child's feelings and wellbeing. You might not always want to read a book or play a particular game, but you have to put a child's needs first and do what will keep them content.
Do You Like To Teach?
A good babysitter is usually good at teaching and instructing. You don't necessarily need formal training as a teacher, but you should be able to explain concepts and ideas to children in a way that they can understand.
Kids will often have questions about why something is a particular way, or how something is done. As a babysitter, you'll need to address a lot of these questions. You don't necessarily need to know every answer, but you can at least point kids in the right direction or help look up the answer.
You might sometimes be tasked as a tutor as part of your babysitting duties. Are you able to help children with their homework and work through any questions or issues that might arise?
Are You An Authority Figure?
Some people aren't naturally good at standing up to children or enforcing rules. As a babysitter, this is a skill you'll need to learn how to develop. Babysitting isn't all playing and having fun. Sometimes you'll need to try and get children to clean up their toys, or eat their vegetables. Or you may need to enforce specific rules that parents give you, like no television after a certain time.
Being able to enforce rules and tell kids no sometimes doesn't mean that you need to be a strict disciplinarian though. You can be kind and gentle, but still firm on your stance on rules and other important issues.
Parents will have all sorts of different ways of handling discipline and unique rules for their household. As a babysitter, you'll need to be able to adapt and follow parent's wishes, even if you don't necessarily agree with all of them.
Are You A Good Communicator?
Good communication is a valuable asset for babysitters during all parts of the job process.
You'll need to communicate well in writing when creating a resume and applying for jobs, as well as when you're texting or emailing parents.
You'll need to be able to effectively communicate on the phone if parents call to check up on their children if you need to call and ask for advice, or to arrange babysitting bookings.
And most importantly, you'll need to be able to effectively communicate face-to-face with both parents and their children.
Having an open line of communication with parents is crucial for building up a sense of trust and dependability.
Are You Observant?
Children can get themselves into all kinds of bad situations within just a few seconds if they aren't being watched. They could reach for a hot stove, pinch their fingers in a drawer, try to stick things in an electrical socket, try to swallow an object and choke, or any number of other things if you turn your attention away for just a brief moment.
While it's important to be prepared for any emergency, it's even more valuable to be watchful enough to prevent them from happening in the first place.
You'll need to be able to multitask and pick up toys or wash the dishes while also keeping an eye on the children. And definitely avoid getting distracted by text messages or phone calls while you're on the job.
Are You Organized?
A busy babysitter will likely have several families that they babysit for at any given time. So you need an effective way of keeping track of appointments to make sure that you don't miss any. I would recommend either using a paper day planner or an app on your phone to keep track.
While you're working, you'll also need to keep track of schedules that parents set for you. Children do best with lots of structure and routine, and it can cause problems if you start to stray from the schedule. Keep track of things like when they eat, when they take a nap, when you change their diapers, playtimes, and other important details.
For keeping everything organized, I suggest keeping a babysitting binder. You can learn how to make one for yourself from my article Babysitting Binder (20 Documents & Fun Items to Include!)
Can You Handle Criticism?
You'll almost never get things perfect the very first time you try. Parents are likely to have some feedback about how you do things, and it might take babysitting for a family a few times before you get completely in sync with what's expected of you. You may even do things unintentionally that worry or upset a parent.
To improve as a babysitter, you'll need to be open to criticism and feedback. Be open to hearing the concerns that parents have. Try to see it as a way to improve and do a better job, as opposed to just the fact that you've gotten in trouble.
I'm not saying you should ever put up with a verbally abusive parent. If someone you babysit for is shouting at you or using inappropriate language, then you most likely don't want to babysit for them again. But it's important to have a thick enough skin that you can handle some constructive criticism.
Babysitting can be a great part-time or full-time job. But it isn't for everyone. After reading through the questions above, now you should have a good idea of whether babysitting is right for you or not.
You might not have said yes to every question. But the more that you agreed with, the more likely it is that babysitting will be a good fit for your personality and current life situation.
If you really feel like you want to be a babysitter but found you answered no to most of the questions above, don't despair! A lot of the items I listed like being a good communicator or being organized are skills that you can learn.
And if after reading this list, you realized that maybe babysitting isn't for you, that's perfectly okay too. It's better to come to that realization now, instead of after you've gone through the effort to complete babysitting courses and certification and taken on clients.
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