UPDATE: We published this post last year but wanted to update it and bring it back as a reminder.
Allison babysat a lot this summer and one of the things my friends stressed was that they LOVED that when they got home, she had cleaned up. She even cleans up stuff that was not messed up during the babysitting time. So if you have babysitters, remind them the importance of cleaning up the (toys/mess) that was made while they were babysitting. Also tell them that if they clean up other stuff, this is something that will almost guarantee another call back.
My friend Tracy had my friend Veronique’s daughters babysit. One thing that she loved that they did was bring activities with them for the babysitting job. This is a great idea. Her daughter Lucy loved it! It would be easy to have a babysitting tackle box from the dollar store of fun activities.
Dear __________ (Isabella, Sophia, Finley)
First, I am so proud of you that you want to be a babysitter. Years ago I babysat and thought most of the time it was a pretty good gig. Before you take your first babysitting job, I want to make sure that you have taken this idea very seriously. People trust you to care for their children, the most important people in their life. I want you to read through the following list to make sure this is the right job for you. If any of these items seem unreasonable, that is ok; you can always find other jobs such as pet sitting, grocery cashier, lawn mower, etc.
1. Do you LOVE children? Do you enjoy being around them and understand that they will all at one time have melt downs?
2. Are you willing to be “present” the entire time you are babysitting? What I mean by this is that you are interacting with these children the entire time you are there when they are awake. You are playing games with them, coloring, doing crafts. Remember the parents are paying you to be with their children and not for you to be on your phone or stick them in front of a tv.
3. Make sure you are always on time! In fact, it never hurts to be a few minutes early so that the parents can go over any procedures and you can ask questions.
4. Do not, I repeat, do not be on your phone! It is ok to have your phone nearby in case the parent wants to text and check up on you and the kids. However, it is never appropriate for you to be on your phone texting, facebooking, instagramming if the children are awake.
5. This is not a job where you can ”take a break” because you are “tired”. YOU decided that YOU wanted to be a babysitter. If a parent is paying you $8.00, $10.00, or even $12.00 an hour to watch their children and you “take a break” or are on your phone, you are not doing your primary job, watching the kids.
6. Do not expect or demand to be paid crazy amounts of money if you are under 18, do not have any professional certifications, etc. If you expect to be paid 3 times minimum wage for watching 2 or 3 children, then you need to make sure you bring a broom, mop, and cleaning supplies.
7. Pick up after yourself and the children while you are on the job. Ideally this will happen when the children are sleeping.
8. If the children fall asleep, what should you do? Ideally you will spend a few minutes cleaning up downstairs (even if you didn’t make the mess). I’m not saying you have to deep clean their house, but if the parents were in a rush and there are plates in the sink and things lying around, why not tidy up? This small gesture will go far with parents. In fact, I tend to leave babysitters tips for this type of stuff.
9. Is there ever a time I can get on my phone or do my homework while I am babysitting? Yes, if the kids are sleeping, and the house is tidy.
10. Should I tell the parents how much I charge up front? You can if the parent asks or you can let them decide how much to pay. It’s kind of like tipping for large parties. If you are a waiter you may automatically include the gratuity or gamble that the patrons will actually pay a larger rate. In fact, when I hired babysitters I told them my set rate, but often paid a bit more at the end of the night if I felt they went above and beyond. Also, I will pay more for babysitters who can drive themselves to and from my house. Having to pick up/drop off a babysitter is kind of a pain. I will only do this if the babysitter is OUTSTANDING and doesn’t expect crazy amounts of money.
11. What should I do if the parents are not home when they said they would be? It depends on your age and circumstances. If you are in middle school and it is a school night, then of course you should not be expected to stay until midnight. Make sure to be clear if you have a set time you must be home. With that being said, if you are older, it’s a weekend, the parents are having a great time and ask to stay out longer, you should consider it. Trust me, they will remember the kind gesture when they are paying you.
12. What happens if parents catch me on my phone or if I demand a crazy hourly rate? Unfortunately they will probably never call you back. In fact, they will probably tell all of their friends who have small children. Word of mouth and referrals are huge. Be professional, polite, play with the children, tidy up, and you will be booked with babysitting jobs.
13. Is there anything else you may suggest? Yes, you would set yourself apart if you tried to come up with a cheap craft (doesn’t have to be fancy) for the kids to do. Maybe you could have a tackle box with fun “babysitting” supplies. Mention to the parents you plan on bringing it with you.
Love, your mom!
P.S. to Parents reading this: Here are a few tips for you:
· Be considerate about time. If you say you will be home at 10pm, try and be home near this time. If you want to stay out longer, text the babysitter and see if it is possible.
· Make sure you leave food or snacks for the babysitter.
· Ask your child the next day how they liked the babysitter. I know my 6 year old will be honest and tell me if she liked the babysitter and if the babysitter played with them.
· Maybe have a few fun crafts or activities out for the babysitter to do. I have left cupcake stuff for the kids to make.
Here are a couple of useful links (printable with important information).