Advice & Features Articles

Babysitting: Are You Ready For This Responsible Job?

By Tania Cowling

During the tween years, it’s normal to begin your first paying jobs: mowing lawns, walking dogs, or babysitting.  These activities help to build a sense of independence as well as teach the importance of scheduling, dependability, and managing finances.  Babysitting is more than watching small children while their parents are away from home; it’s a real job that demands responsibility and full-time attention.  Can you handle this task? Below is a checklist to see if this job is for you!  

Can your tweens and teens answer these questions?

Are you comfortable staying alone?  It’s important to be at ease being alone at home, both during daylight and nighttime hours.  If you’re nervous about staying home alone, you may not be ready to be alone in someone else’s home and responsible for other children. Some tweens may be okay during the day, but become apprehensive after dark.  In this case, begin with daytime babysitting only.

How do you relate to younger children?  Do you treat children with patience and compassion?  Can you take command of situations that require guidance or supervision?  Do younger children respond to you positively? 

Can you handle unexpected or emergency situations?  Are you able to stay calm and proceed wisely in a crisis?  Preparing a plan of action and learning basic emergency procedures can be helpful in handling unexpected situations that may arise.

Are you skilled in the basics of childcare?  Do you know how to hold, feed, and change diapers?  Can you soothe a crying child who woke up with a bad dream, misses her parents, or has fallen during play?  If you feel apprehensive with very young children, maybe watching older children would be wise until you gain more experience.

Can you handle the business of babysitting?  Babysitting is a job that requires interaction with parents as well as children.  Be businesslike and explain the days and hours you are available.  Be confident in discussing what you charge per hour.  Try to arrange a visit prior to babysitting to meet the children.  Make arrangements for transportation to and from the job.

If you answered yes to these questions, babysitting can be a rewarding experience. The job of babysitting is serious, and part of this responsibility is to protect the children and yourself.  Make sure to practice these safety tips:

• Obtain the location and phone number where the parents can  be reached in case of emergency.

• Be sure doors and windows are locked and ask which lights should be left on if you’re to stay late at night.

• Locate fire escapes, fire extinguisher, or second exit.

• Never tell telephone callers that you are alone with the children.

• Never open doors to strangers.Since you are a “guest” in your employer’s home remember these tips:

• Don’t be distracted by social media or texting on your phone.

• Don’t allow friends to visit.

• Stay out of closets, desk drawers, and personal papers.

• Enjoy only those snacks that you’ve been offered.

Editor’s Note: Tania Cowling is a former teacher and now grandmother who enjoys writing and blogging about mothering. 

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