Babysitting: Tips for the Novice Nanny

By Makaria Sanders

         As a general rule, we (teenagers) spend a lot of money. In fact, according to Reference.com, “The average teenager spends $9,626.76 per year.” That’s almost thirty dollars EVERY DAY! Since most of those teenagers (ages 13-18) don’t have full-time or even part-time jobs, their parents are the ones who foot the bill. If your parents are like mine, they want you to pay for the nonessential things, if you can. They may draw the line, and say that restaurant eat-outs, shopping trips, and movie theater tickets should be on you. Take heart! There are many ways you can earn money. One of them is babysitting.

         Before you decide to babysit, you should make sure you have as many items checked off of this list as possible.

  1. Know the family.

         Of course, you can’t always know everything about the kids you will be watching, but it is important that you know some of the fundamentals.

  • First of all, obviously, learn their names.
  • Second, learn their ages or grade levels. Since you could be spending hours with them, you need to make sure you are prepared for different maturity levels and playtime activities. Planning ahead for babysitting a fourth grade child is often very different from babysitting a four-year-old.
  • Also, make sure you clarify exactly what time they need you to be there. If the parents are leaving for a long while, make sure you arrive at least ten minutes early, so you can make sure you understand what their expectations are for you.

      2. Plan for emergencies.

         You should always be prepared so that you can handle difficult situations with a calm and efficient mindset.

  • Always have a phone nearby. You never know when you may have to contact the parents, a doctor, or 911.
  • It is always best to go through CPR training before actually babysitting. Many high schools offer these courses, but if you haven’t taken them, click on the link here to find out what our area offers in regards to this training.

       3. Cover your bases.

         You should always have a mental “inventory” of the house.

  • Most importantly, know where the children are. You should never leave a child alone in a room and even if they have a sibling with them, check periodically to make sure they are okay.
  • Check the appliances after using them. Is the oven or stove turned off? Is the microwave clean? Is the refrigerator door closed?
  • Never leave the door unlocked. Not only does this precaution protect against intrusion, it also ensures that none of the children will try to leave without your knowledge.

        4. Bring backup.

         I don’t mean that you should babysit with someone else, although tag teaming is effective. Any good babysitter knows that you never leave the kids with time to themselves. Keeping them busy is a good way to keep them safe. Here is a good way to do that.

  • Pack a bag full of activities. Put puzzles, games, coloring books and crayons, toys, or movies into a bag, and put it somewhere the kids can’t get to it. Then, whenever you need to distract them, you can pull something out of the bag that will occupy them for a while.

Note: NEVER bring out every item from the bag at once. Try and keep as many tricks up your sleeve as possible, and only bring out the fun surprises when you need to.

        5. Finish Strong.

         It is always a good idea to end the night on a happy note. The best case scenario when the parents come home is to find a quiet, peaceful home with children who are ready for bed and a house that is clean. However, this fairy tale almost never happens, especially with babysitting beginners. Just make sure you do your best to have the children fed and clean. If you have extra time, wash the dishes in the sink, wipe the table, and other odd jobs around the house. The babysitter that cleans is the babysitter that returns.

         Overall, babysitting can be an effective (and even fun) way to earn some extra cash. Dorman Sophomore Hannah Herring says, “Babysitting is a great experience because it’s nice to earn a little extra money, and usually the kids brighten my day.” Just follow these simple steps, and you will be better prepared than the average amateur.

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