I want to be a babysitter, how do I get started?

Tips for becoming a babysitter and getting hired.

Babysitting is a huge responsibility; these tips from Michigan State University Extension will help you decide if you’re ready and what you may need to know to get hired.

Do you like kids? This may sound like a silly question, but think about it. Small kids need attention all the time, you may need to feed them, change their diapers, answer endless questions and when you sit down, you may have a lapful of kids. It’s important that you like to spend time with children or everyone will be miserable.

Can you stand up for yourself? What if you don’t get paid? What if the neighbor kids arrive at the house every time you babysit? What if the parents are drunk when they get home; are you safe getting a ride home? Plan ahead with your parents by discussing possible situations that may arise and what you would do.

Have you taken a first-aid and CPR class? Kids get bumps and bruises in everyday play. Kids take chances like jumping off couches, climbing and reaching for items outside a safe reach zone. They run in the house and play catch with just about anything they can pick up. If you are playing with the kids they are less likely to get into trouble and less likely to get hurt, but you need to be prepared to act if an incident occurs, that is why you are there.

Have you taken a babysitter class? Look for a babysitting class at your local Michigan State University Extension office, hospital, school or Red Cross office. If none are available you can ask your parents for tips. Find someone who is already babysitting; contact a child care provider or a preschool teacher. Most adults who work with young children know how important it is for babysitters to know about kids and would be willing to talk with you.

What do you know about kids? What do you know about child development? When can children roll over, sit up, walk? While it’s not required to know at what stages children can do certain skills, if you do know your expectations for children it will help you to understand why children do what they do. Stop by your local 4-H office (your local Michigan State University Extension office), as they may have materials related to child development. Visit utah4h.org/.../curriculum&child-development-child-care-and-babysit for helpful information.

Deciding who to babysit for: Do babies make you nervous? If they do, don’t agree to sit for that particular family. If you feel four children are too many to watch at one time, pass on that sitting job or ask the parents if they would agree to two sitters instead of one. You and a friend can take the job together and split the money.

Spend time with the family before you babysit: Make arrangements to meet the parents and children before you babysit. Talk about responsibilities and expectations. Ask for a tour of the house, discover where the back door is, ask what rooms are off-limits to the kids and learn about rules, the kid’s routines, preferred snacks, TV or computer time and bedtime. It’s a good idea to ask parents to fill out an information sheet. Seattle Children’s Hospital Better Babysitter program offers has an electronic copy of a family information form. To download this form go to https://www.seattlechildrens.org If you don’t have internet access at home, every public library, as well as your school, where there are computers you can access.

Know emergency numbers. Take the family information sheet with you when you babysit and you’ll have all the necessary information you need while the parents are gone.

Practice safe household habits. Protect yourself and the children:

  • Lock all doors.
  • Close all curtains/shades/blinds and lock windows.
  • Be careful with phone calls.
  • Don't open the door to strangers.

Watch children at all times. Your responsibility while babysitting is watching the children and keeping them as safe as possible. Discuss discipline with the family in advance of problems arising. Know how to set and stick to limits. Never slap, shake, or physically punish a child.

Obey house rules: Breaking rules may get you into dangerous or embarrassing situations. If you mess up, be honest with the parents, it’s never a good idea to try a cover-up or deny when something has happened.

If you love children and enjoy spending time with them, babysitting can be one of the most enjoyable jobs you’ll ever have. It’s rare that caring and prepared babysitters have trouble with the children they are watching, as many children are excited when a babysitter arrives. So be prepared and keep in mind that children are worth your best efforts!

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